Gr/eat Eastbourne review: Why delicious Greek food made me wish I was a pelican
Good Greek food is sunshine on a platter.
It is decadent, vibrant and dancing with the sun-kissed flavours of the Mediterranean.
So you can only imagine what great Greek food tastes like – and that is what Gr/eat delivers.
Though it seems like a bedrock of the foodie end of Terminus Road by now, the restaurant was launched just three years ago by a talented couple.
Vasilis and Vicky hail from the north of Greece, where they worked as a head chef and hotel manager respectively. It was their vision to transport real Greek food over to the UK which set the whole concept in motion.
So they brought their sunshine over to Eastbourne in the form of some of the most delicious food you can taste in town.
It is fresh, rustic and utterly authentic Greek cuisine which we are lucky to have on our doorstep.
So it’s no surprise the place is teaming on a rainy Tuesday night.
Like most of the restaurants on this stretch, it’s a Tardis – much larger within than the exterior suggests. It’s decorated with tasteful splashes of olive green, creams, and white with light-coloured furnishings.
My only warning to anyone entering this establishment is this: make sure you bring a healthy appetite, because you are about to be spoiled.
We are welcomed warmly to our seats and decide to have a traditional mezze meal. In my view this is the ‘give me everything please’, option. What arrives is a wonder to behold.
There is a vegetarian platter stacked like a treasure trove of brightly coloured gems; a hulking great halloumi salad which comes presented like a star, a board splayed with golden seafood, and an unusual cheese dish.
So we dig in, eating like we’ve never seen food before.
I choose the cheese first. A slab of sesame crusted feta coated in honey oozes as you cut into it. It is a sensation. I keep going back to it and resent my eating companion whenever they take a bite.
The array of the veggie platter calls next. There are bites of falafel, rice parcels rolled like cigars in leaves, a tasty coleslaw salad, plump green chilli. These are accompanied by four dips: a beetroot-coloured one, tsatsiki drizzled with olive oil, a spicy butterbean concoction, and, of course, hummus.
These are partnered, inevitably, with pitta. The pitta is to die for. Everyone says ‘don’t fill up on the bread!’ but I challenge anyone to restrain themselves with this. It is soft and warm with just the right amount of crispness. Perfect to dip and pile up with the multifarious selection before you.
Then my rampage targets the halloumi salad: dark green leaves with a rose-shaped red onion nestled on top, with tortilla shards, gleaming strips of roasted pepper, aubergine, button mushrooms and blades of balsamic-brushed halloumi. Lip-smacking stuff.
The seafood selection includes crisp calamari and perfectly cooked, plump prawns.
As any observant reader may have guessed, we are vegetarian and pescetarian, but, glancing around the restaurant, were some impressive meat options.
It’s one of those places where you wish you had the abilities of certain animals to shovel in as much food as possible – the beak of a pelican, for instance, or cheeks of a hamster, perhaps even the jaw-unhooking ability of a snake.
But alas, I am only human, with a finite amount of space in my stomach. The portions are enormous and endlessly delicious. You don’t feel guilty though, because it’s all the good stuff.
This is food which stirs the emotions and makes you grateful you have taste buds. It is a feast in the purist definition of the word.
After a short heroic break we stagger on to desserts. This comes in the form of a selection of Greek pastries and cakes.
A lesser food critic would ask to take it home in some Tupperware, but I vow to see this through and, valiantly, dive in.
These are all honeyed sweetness with cinnamon woven through, or a dust of pistachio crumb. There is a monstrously gooey cake soaked in something delicious, some instricately woven strings of filo, flaky pastry puffs stuffed with sweet fruit, and, of course, baklava. This is all served with scoops of ice cream.
We conquer the final plate and, victorious and glutted, call it a night.
If you live in Eastbourne and haven’t been to Gr/eat, you should rectify that promptly. They are warm, friendly and easygoing hosts and the food is unreal. Pure sunshine.