As our little Susanitta was off sunning herself on a boat somewhere off a Greek island, the rest of us decided to be with her in spirit and head to a Greek style taverna and have a meal in her honor.
So we decided to go and try Tsiakkos & Charcoal in Maida Vale, which was our number one choice, before we decided to go all German a week or so ago. I’m still recovering from that boozy weekend. How much wine can you drink before it buggers up your liver.
Tsiakkos & Charcoal is deep within Maida Vale, a quaint leafy suburb that harks back to when London was more gentile and easy going.
We had tried to telephone the restaurant but no one ever picked up the phone, so we ambled past it very early. I mean 7pm early. I know, but some of us were really famished. It was then that we found out that they open at 7.30, so we wandered over to the Neeld Arms, the local on the corner. A nice old Irish boozer, but oddly the only beers they had on draught were either extra cold or super cold. I mean who the bloody hell started that off. Anyhows it’s a nice place, friendly locals, nice vibe, never be a gastro I hope, as we need to keep some of these places just as they are, and I’m sure the locals would fight it to the death as well.
After a couple of extra cold pints we returned to Tsiakkos & Charcoal. I’d read a review about this place, that said “The whole place looks like someone's front room during a power cut”. Nuff said. It sums it up so well, so does Cheese and Biscuits blog post as well.
I rather like places that do not adhere to the norm. Those oh so clinically designed chain restaurants that squeak as you walk in, which are becoming the norm, so hats off to Tsiakkos & Charcoal for its charming but rather odd décor attitudes.
The menu is short and sweet. Although on this Saturday night, some of the starters and mains were not available. Plus it is a cash only gaff, so a run to a cash point was needed.
We settled on a few starters to wet the palette before heading on to the mains. The tzatziki and the taramasalata were chunky, rustic but tasted so good. The grilled halloumi was just that, but it was bathing in good olive oil and was perfect mopping up liquid for the warm pita bread.
For the mains we had the pork kebab, kleftiko and the pastitsio, because the moussaka was not being served that day. All the mains were well cooked, all slightly under seasoned and therefore not as good as they could have been, but nice none the less.
I was expecting some potatoes with my kleftiko, or a salad with the pastitsio, but all we got were portions of rice, although very tasty rice I might add, but rice none the less. I mean who has ever had a pasta dish served with rice as an accompaniment. Crazy. We all wished we had ordered a portion of the feta salad, which looked amazing with a large portion of feta sitting atop a nice looking salad. Would have been better than the rice. It’s funny but rarely are the starters better than the mains. But they were.
We were also a tad disappointed that the beer on offer was just Budweiser, and the red was from Rioja. Where’s the Greek? To top it off there was no ouzo. Saddened we were, saddened.
Our dessert junkie had to ask, and thankfully for everyone that night they had some baklava. Lovely it was too, nice and sticky with honey. Yum.
Only at small places do you get told to pay at the counter as you leave, and having to tell the owner what we had as they had no idea. Quality.
It is very much loved by locals as it was brimming with them on this night, and a real jovial bunch they were too. Tsiakkos & Charcoal is what it is really, a good local, although slightly mad in appearance, doing nice food for a small price. Whether this is the best Greek in London I do not know. More investigating will have to be had.