With all the fantastic eateries down London Road, Pathenonas can easily be missed. Indeed, I had missed it many, many times. With a dated feel and dark windows it’s hardly welcoming and it’s so easy to choose one of the more inviting neighbouring restaurants over this place.
So when I spotted a Groupon voucher offering a meal of meze with a glass of wine and a shot of ouzo thrown in I was sceptical but I thought it was worth a punt at around £14.
Gav and I decided to make this a mid week treat and one Tuesday evening arrived at the restaurant. I confirmed our reservation and handed over the voucher and the waiter showed us to our table. He then simply asked whether we wanted red or white wine (we went for white) and left.
As we waited for our wine I took in the décor of the place. My god. Dated is not the word. Pale blue walls adorned with decorative plates, tiled flooring & plastic table cloths. Nice!
The seat of my chair almost fell through when I sat on it (no not because of my fat arse, but because the damn thing was so old/broken). To the left of me were those huge floor to ceiling darkened windows, not that you could see through them due to the line of tall plants obstructing the view (not that there is much of a view actually).
There were a few other diners, a couple of friends enjoying a catch up, a lone male diner reading a book and a couple who looked like they were trying to relive a recent Greek holiday (he wore a light linen suit, she a floaty white cotton dress).
Wine arrived and I was instantly put about by the size of my glass. Maybe it was a wine to be sipped slowly; to be savoured. Wishful thinking I’m afraid. It was ok, nothing more, nothing less.
We waited for our food and wondered what exactly was going to be served up to us. The waiter had not given us any indication of what to expect and although there is a Meze menu on the restaurant’s website, I didn’t want to assume that was what we would be getting. One point to make here is that the waiter hadn’t even asked if either of us were vegetarian, or whether we had any allergies. Given that we were in the hands of the chefs, I think these simple questions are essential.
Food started to arrive. Again there was little (no?) conversation with the waiter so we didn’t know a) what was in front of us or b) whether this was all we were getting.
Meze is one of my favourite ways to eat. I love the fresh flavours of the typical Greek dishes and as I surveyed our food, I was happy to note that a few of the old favourites were there for the taking. I eagerly tucked in…..
…..only to be disappointed. A plate of dips looked fresh and inviting but houmous needed more garlic and lemon, taramasalata was bland and aubergine purée was a gloopy gluey mess. Tzatziki was harmless enough, but we were just talking yoghurt and cucumber.
Vine leaves served in a tomato and butter bean sauce was pretty dire. The vine leaves were stuffed with over cooked rice and had little flavour, but worst of all the tomato sauce looked and tasted bought in. It had that sickly sweet tang to it and it lacked the richness that comes from cooking tomatoes down for hours.
The red pepper stuffed with feta was ok. I like feta and it was a good job as there was a lot of the strong and salty cheese. It was a shame that the bottom of the pepper was burnt to black, but hey. There were two chunks of haloumi too. This is probably my least favourite cheese. To me, eating halloumi is like eating a salted rubber dinghy. However Gav likes the stuff so he wolfed down my portion.
The filo pastry parcels were fine. The pastry was good and light, but I can’t actually remember what they were stuffed with.
We ate all that we wanted and as our plates were taken away the only sign to confirm there was more to come was the indication from the waiter that he would bring us clean cutlery out.
At this point the peaceful ambiance of the restaurant was disturbed as a group of 12 loud diners had chosen Parthenonas to celebrate a 25th wedding anniversary (I have already established with Gav that I AM NOT celebrating my 25th anniversary at Parthenonas).
They were jovial and loud and although I have nothing against people having fun, I do like to be able to think whilst eating my dinner! So we asked the waiter if we could switch tables. The look on his face suggested not, but there was a bit of a smirk there too suggesting he was being sarcastic. Either way, it took him a while to answer our request and just as I was about to give him a bit of a what for, he smiled and showed us to another table.
Our mains then arrived and I was pleased to see some meat arrive in the form of chicken and pork kebabs. Both meats were cooked well, but there was a distinct lack of flavour. If the meats had been marinated, they needed a few hours longer!
A pasta and mince meat dish topped with bechamel sauce was packed with the flavour of nutmeg, but little else. Pasta was pulverised and meat was totally lost under the nutmeggy bechamel sauce.
Side order of potatoes was embarrassing. At first we didn’t know what they were and initially I thought the dish was some form of dessert. But no, there were two chunks of roasted potatoes on the plate. Normally I love roast potatoes. Cooked until crisp with garlic and rosemary there is little better. These, however, were greasy, undercooked and free of flavour.
The highlight of the whole meal was the feta salad. Ok, so the tomatoes were standard and pretty insipid, but olives, red onion, pepper and cucumber were nice and fresh. There were two nice sized chunks of feta in there too.
Unfortunately the salad was too little too late. With poor food and off service we had long since decided that this trip was our first and last trip to Parthenonas. Although it is Turkish, Lokanta is a far better option for restaurant meze food. For takeaway and lunch, try The Greedy Greek Deli.