30th August 2015
It’s all Greek to me!
The Greek Olive Restaurant – Swindon
“The Greeks’ fierce pride in their heritage has kept the basic culture intact. Whether a slave under Roman rule, a captive under Turkish domination, or a newly arrived immigrant, the Greek is always aware that he is the direct descendant of men like Plato, Homer, Aristotle, Demosthenes, Aristophanes. The Greek who begins life in a new land on the bottom step of society as a dishwasher needs only to remember how Aesop left a legacy of poetry while cooking as a slave.”
Theresa Yianilos, ‘The Complete Greek Cookbook’
Well, what a lovely way to pass a few hours on a dreek and dismal Bank Holiday Sunday that was!
I refer to the Greek Olive restaurant on Faringdon Road in Swindon. And my apologies to them for the slightly out of focus photographs below. I’m blaming Aphrodite. The wine we drank by that name, not the actual Greek goddess of love, desire and beauty. Though, being as how the food and service at this place are embodied in those things, it’s kinda appropriate.
What a wonderful addition to Swindon’s epicurean offerings this place is. Xenia is the ancient Greek concept of hospitality and certainly it’s much in evidence in the Greek Olive. From the complimentary amuse-bouche to the complimentary baklava to the complimentary shot of Metaxa knocked back as our taxi arrived – everything was wonderful.
Chatting to Stamades ( I hope I’ve got that right) I discovered that his mother is a Swindonian and his father is Greek. He’s been here for three months fresh from the island of Kos. Now as much as I love Britain and Swindon, he must be wondering where on earth he’s come to in this grim weather.
From the restaurant’s Facebook page: ‘Proudly bringing to you from Greece, @Greek Olive – A family run restaurant. As we Greeks are passionate about our food, we were disappointed to discover that mediterranean food was not available in Swindon, after moving here from the Greek Island of Kos. As we missed our beloved Greek traditional food and the nearest restaurant was over 37 miles away, we decided, after a long family discussion that we would love to share our Greek kitchen with you all……….
Head chef, Michael Kalotinis has over 20 years experience running his own restaurant in Kos. He takes great pride in the meals served from his kitchen, serving only authentic, traditional Greek cuisine, a large amount of his ingredients will be direct from Greece, of course, to ensure you will experience the real Hellenic taste of the Mediterranean…..’
Well – Kos’ loss is certainly Swindon’s gain. It might lack a view of the Med or the Aegean but it has to be the next best thing to being there.
The place is pleasingly decorated in restful shades of (olive) green. The tables have actual linen tablecloths – a rare thing these days – and fresh roses on each table. A nice touch. The walls are adorned with lots of snaps of Greece – possibly Kos, I didn’t ask. I should have done. I’ll try and rectify that next time. And there’ll definitely be a next time – and soon I hope.
For a starter we settled on a hot meze platter for two people. This comprised a generously portioned selection of calamari, meatballs, gigante, grilled halloumi cheese, dolmades and three types of dip. It was all delicious.
Moving on to the main course we opted for fish. Sea bass for me and swordfish for my companion. Again all beautifully cooked.
We washed it all down with a bottle of Greek white wine that was dry and crisp and fresh. The Metaxa with which I rounded off my meal was smooth and lovely and slid down a treat.
So all in all great food, really great, friendly service and great value. The only real disappointment being the absence of plates being smashed. That said someone did break a glass while we were there… Yamas!