Ampéli is the new kid on the block at Charlotte Street – serving up both Greek and Eastern Mediterranean food and drink to the Fitzrovia masses.
And, unlike a lot of restaurants popping up these days, a lot of the focus starts at the wine list. Founder Jenny Pagoni has unfettering love and enthusiasm for indigenous Greek wines, resulted in Ampéli’s innovative, exciting wine list.
A typical evening would start with a glass of Greek sparkling, moving on to new age Retsina before settling on a vibrant Agiorgitiko or elegant Xinomavro. The list also features a wide range of Assyrtiko, a thrilling and intense grape which has boomed in popularity over the past few years.
As well as crowd-pleasers, the list also features a section dedicated to new wave natural and low intervention wines from across the country, including skin contact orange wines – still very on trend at the moment. They even have small section of ‘Discoveries’. These are rare native Greek varieties produced in very small quantities, a treat for the intrepid wine lover.
You could easily come here over and over just to sample the ever-changing wine list – cocktails and other drinks will surely be added to the menu once they stretch their legs a little too.
Food then follows with the same gusto, Lead by Head Chef Oren Goldfeld who has previously worked at Nopi and Tel Aviv’s acclaimed Toto restaurant. Oren has worked closely with Jenny to bring her favourite Greek dishes and family recipes to London – glamming them up a little for Central London diners.
Hot and cold social dishes act as taps-style starters made for sharing before the mains come out a little more traditionally – of course you easily share these too.
We can never turn down a classic feta saganaki and this one doesn’t disappoint – coming with a punchy tomato jam. The Jewish chopped chicken liver with caper leaves and cornichons was also a huge fave. Simple and unfussy, this is perfect for any pate lover.
For something heartier, there’s the Welsh lamb with Jerusalem mixed spice, a punchy blend of cardamom, cumin, turmeric, allspice and paprika, served with almond sauce and pickles is another win. The charred cabbage on a bed of semolina risotto is also divine. The semolina has been cooked more like a porridge and feels so honestly homey.
End the festivities with a good portion of homemade loukoumades and some top-notch coffee and you’re sorted. These traditional Greek doughnuts stand out with their yeasty taste and slightly undercooked centre. We just wanted buckets more honey drizzled on top. The only thing we would have changed here.