The Real Greek has recently joined the list of chains branching out their menu into the vegan market. I joined them last week to taste the 30 dishes ahead of their launch to the public, and boy am I impressed!
Whenever I visit a mainstream restaurant (let alone a chain), I am often tempted to have a small meal beforehand, just to avoid the inevitable hunger following the only vegan option available being a drab salad, or worst case a consume (trying to forget my terrible Babalon London experience). Times are changing y'all.
Firstly, I have to admit, this invitation was especially of interest, having never stepped into a Real Greek restaurant, mainly due to lack of options, I really didn't see this vegan menu coming.
I wasn't in the room for longer than five minutes before my hand was clutching a refreshing white wine (vegan of course), and was greeting by a lovely, typically Greek reception; pride of the food being served, ensuring my glass and my plate were always full and the warmest of service. Nothing was too much trouble.
On to the food...
So much choice, so little time! You could easily feast on the starters and leave happy (don't do it, what is coming later is worth saving room from). From fava bean mashes to beetroot and lentil salad, my highlight was definitely somewhere between the Melitzanosalata (a vegan twist on the famous taramasalata made with fish) and the Santorini Fava. Each dish is £5 or less, great for a classic Greek Mezze between friends to start a dinner.
The Melitzanosalata was perfectly tangy and garlicky. Total heaven and I would even suggest this for someone who isn't keen on aubergine...kind of like a gateway drug, but food...maybe.
Tastes better than it looks FYI ;)
Who knew yellow lentils could be so tasty!
If you're in it for the long haul with your dip game, grab some of the fluffy flatbread and just order one of each if you're a big party.
Next up we tried the delicious Hot Mezze..let's just say, I should have held back on eating the week leading up to the event...
Greek food hasn't been on my menu very often since going vegan, travelling to Crete last year and Mikonos the previous year was a feast of stuffed vegetables slow cooked and served with potatoes or fries. (Check out my own interpretation of this dish here available in my recipe page). I was delighted upon scanning the menu to see so many Greek classics had gone vegen. It was like a gift from the gods.
Highlights from the Mezze menu for me were definitely the Gigandes Plaki (slow cooked beans in a tomato based sauce and the chickpea filo parcels...just wow!
Nothing fills me with joy like a hearty plate of home cooked food, but having so many delicious options available from on menu is simply amazing!
Every single dish brought out was so satisfying; crispy falafel with a moist centre served with pickled onion slices, tender braised artichokes and beautiful jackfruit Stifado.
Following the Hot Mezze dishes came the Jack Fruit Souvlaki wrap...
Following all of the delights we tried on the night, I was feeling pretty full to the gills...aaaannd then they brought our spicy jackfruit gyros...and my stomach magically stopped feeling so full.
Behold this sacred offering from the Greek gods and goddesses to hungry vegans everywhere...well in close proximity to a Real Greek restaurant...
We finished our evening with potentially one of the creamiest vegan ice creams I have tried...I mean, I am still not over my Ben and Jerry's experience, and it would take some beating, but MY GOODNESS is this stuff good! But who can resist a traditional homemade baklava? Not me.
I am most definitely adding The Real Greek to my list of favourites and am genuinely looking forward to my next visit! Tonia and the team have put a great deal of effort into the vegan offerings and it was clear when we spoke just how passionate she is about the menu. She explained that she has been pushing for the vegan menu for some time and it is genuinely thrilling to hear that!
It is truly so exciting to be part of the vegan shift which is taking place, I can't wait to see more venues following in the footsteps of The Real Greek!
For more information about the new vegan menu, visit the official Real Greek website: http://www.therealgreek.com
Want to create your own Greek banquet at home? Check out my favourite cook book for some inspiration:
Thanks for visiting!