I have such a ridiculous backlog of good food places that I want to write about, but I eat out so much that I never seem to get round to writing about them as I keep going to new places that I can’t wait to share! 🙂
Last Friday evening I met up with an old uni friend for a catch up over dinner. It was the perfect evening – good food and good company 🙂 When I’m going out for dinner I usually try to book somewhere if possible, especially at the weekend when places can get so busy and waiting outside in the cold for an indeterminate amount of time isn’t my idea of a fun Friday night. A lot of places on my dinner list either didn’t take bookings or were already fully booked so I decided to go for Opso.. it had been on my list for ages but I’d actually been planning to go for brunch.
Opso is a Greek tapas place in Marylebone with a beautiful interior. The upstairs area serves as a restaurant and a bar and the downstairs area has the cutest little ‘caves’ which are available as booths for larger parties. ‘Opso’ is an ancient Greek word for ‘a delectable morsel of food’ and they create modern Greek tapas based on quality ingredients, most of which they say are supplied directly from Greece. Their whole dinner menu consists of small dishes which was perfect as we got to try so many! I love tapas – it means that I can try everything and I love to eat lots of different things at once. I also love Greek food – meat, cheeses, olives bread and all of their dips – so I was happy to eat anything on the menu (okay except the snails..). We got bread and olives, skordalya (olive oil – rye bread spread with garlic and toasted crumbled walnuts) with olive crackers, spanakopita, vegetable sandwich (‘Koulouri’ sesame covered milk bread with grilled zucchini, aubergine, red onions red peppers and tomato jam), souvlaki (slow cooked pork belly, tomatoes, red onion and tzatziki sauce in a pita bread), salmon burger (grilled fresh salmon fillet with tomato jam and aioli mayo in a squid ink bun), hand cut oregano chips and the ‘Kleftiko’ lamb (papillote style cooked lamb with roast potatoes and peppers).
I don’t know where to start – every single dish was incredible. My favourite was probably the souvlaki. For some reason when we were ordering, I though that out of the three sandwiches it would be my least favourite. I think that I associate pork belly with the Asian version which I’ve had in the past, which has a thick layer of soggy fat but this could not have been further from it. It was incredible. A soft pitta stuffed with tzatziki (which I am obsessed with!) and a huge chunk of the softest and tastiest pork. I could’ve eaten about ten of them. Then there was the lamb. Although it looked incredibly ugly bundled up in white paper (I couldn’t even bring myself to post a picture!) it was the most tender meat imaginable. I can’t even begin to describe how soft it was, it literally melted in my mouth. We were a bit baffled by the menu description when ordering the dip, as ‘olive oil – rye bread spread with garlic and toasted crumbled walnuts’ sounded to me as though it would be a spread on rye bread, but I think that rye bread was blended up as part of the dip, as we got crackers on the side. Not that I cared about the detail – it was so delicious. Creamy, smooth and flavoursome, and the olive oil crackers were the perfect accompaniment. The vegetable sandwich and the salmon burger were both so beautifully constructed and presented in little boxes. They were perfect – delicious fillings on soft bread with a less-ordinary twist, what more could you want!?
Even the bread and olives were amazing – the bread was soft sourdough, cut into chunks and drizzled with olive oil and oregano. I have to admit that I found the chips a little disappointing, but that’s just my personal taste so don’t let it stop you from trying them. I’m a huge fan of unique takes on everyday foods and they were certainly different – but they were so thin that they were almost like shavings, personally I’d rather have had more potato. My friend loved them though, and in fairness I think they’d have been good hot, but because they were so thin they went cold (and a bit soggy) quickly.
Then there were the desserts. I scanned the menu for about a millisecond (not that the waiter would have given us longer..) before immediately setting my heart on the Moustokoulouro Ice Cream Sandwich (molasses & chocolate soft cookie with walnuts and butterscotch sauce and salted caramel ice cream). Have you ever heard of a more perfect sounding dessert!? And it was every bit as good as it sounded. Just look at it!
How long did you look at it for!? 😛 Two incredibly soft chocolatey cookies, sandwiched together with smooth, creamy salted caramel ice cream, with toasted walnuts and a generous drizzle of butterscotch sauce.. perfection! They had some more traditional desserts such as a Greek milk pie and Loukoumades (greek puffed ‘donuts’ with honey, walnuts and kaimaki ice cream but I’ll be honest – if I go back for dinner, I’ll struggle not to get this again! I’m a sucker for chocolate, cookies and anything salted caramel flavour, so put them all together and I’ll love you forever 🙂
While the food was incredible, the service left a lot to be desired. Our waiter was hovering around like a fly, ready to swipe things off the table or take away plates we weren’t finished with faster than we could even think of objecting. When we first sat down, he asked us what drinks we wanted before we’d even had a split second to scan the drinks menu. We asked for tap water to start with and he came back immediately with a jug, only to ask us again. We ended up pressure ordering as he didn’t seem to want to give us a food menu until we’d decided on drinks. He then kept trying to take away the drinks menu even though I was considering getting an iced coffee or a chocolate milkshake later on in the meal! Towards the end of our meal (I didn’t even get time to order my milkshake 😦 ) they kept pressuring us saying the next people were here for our table. In such good company two hours had absolutely flown by and although I completely understand that most places in London have time limits on bookings they were quite rude and did make it incredibly awkward! Half way through our dessert they even suggested that we finished it at the bar! When we then (understandably) didn’t want to pay the full 12.5% (discretionary!) service charge, they asked us what was wrong. I know it’s a London thing but seriously – what’s with assuming everyone will pay the service charge.. personally I’ll tip if I think the service was good and I don’t feel like I should have to feel obliged to tip if the service was very average (at best). Despite the average service, I definitely wouldn’t let it stop me from coming back though. Good food done well, at reasonable prices in a beautiful area of London. I’m definitely going to try their brunch! The menu looks perfect – it has all of the best parts of the dinner menu as well as some unique twists on more standard breakfast items.. and all my favourite carbs – a bread basket, pancakes, brioche and homemade Valrhona chocolate-praline spread…. 🙂
Would I recommend it? Yep
Worth going out of your way for? Yes, and Marylebone is a beautiful area – I spotted a couple of lovely bakeries that I’d definitely stop by if I went during the day!
Would I go back? I’ll definitely go back for brunch.. and I’d like to take Marcus for dinner too.
Link to their website: http://www.opso.co.uk