The Chicken Gyros – not good for a first date, but might be worth going home alone for!
There are some operators who stay largely under the radar and create a solid, loyal following based on sincere credibility. A case in point is Elia, the Greek restaurant at the ironicallynamed Majestic Hotel in Bur Dubai. I’ve had the pleasure of dining there a few times and every time it was enjoyable and reliable. This is how you create a sustainable business, bythe way.
So, when I heard that the Elia management, the M Management Company and Chef Ilias Kokoroskos, were launching a new Greek restaurant in Mythos Kouzina & Grill, I penciled itin my diary. And then promptly forgot about it.
Until last night. And, boy, I am glad I remembered. According to Chef Ilias, Mythos is “Greek comfort food in its purest and most delicious form.” And we all know that Greece coulddo with a little comfort right now.
So, Mythos is a bit tricky to find – you park up top at Armada Blue Bay Hotel in JLT and then you head downstairs to the lower level from the parking lot. You will see a strangelynamed Hugs and Mugs café on your right, but don’t be distracted by their fancy name and lights. You are on a mission, remember. Keep left and stay on the foot path. Pretty soon,you will find a little building with an entrance that Mythos share with another F&B place. Mythos is the one with the Mythos sign on the door. Enter.
I must admit; one of my pet peeves is when a restaurant tries to force themed authenticity down my throat, and I was worried that Mythos might have gone tried too hard with theinterior design. However, the only thing wrong with it was my preconception.
Archways and rough stone walls, exposed bulbs with warm filaments, faded Santorini blues and distressed whites, elegant mirrors and bleached raft wood ceilings.
Upon sitting down, you really got a sense of the Cyclades islands’ way of life. Simple, elegant and understated. The floor plan is casual and uncomplicated – banquet seating withsome independent tables as well. All arranged down a long, slender room. They have a small terrace, but during the summer, I don’t stray more than 3 meters from an AC unit, so Ihave no idea what it looks like.
The Serb had spent some time in Greece and vouched for the look and feel of the place. She actually got quite emotional whilst reminiscing, so thank you Mythos, because ansentimental Serb is just what I want during my dinner.
So, onto the food. No wait, before I get to the food, let me get my first gripe out of the way. When dining out, I expect the waiter or waitress to be able to respond to my mood atall times. If I am quiet, they must be silent. If I am telling jokes, they must act like I am the funniest man they have ever met. That night, I was in quite a jovial mood; it was aspecial night. I felt that the waiter could have read the mood better at our table. I would have, for once, enjoyed a conversation about the menu, suggestions, anecdotes, chef’sfavourites, etc. But there was none of that. Just an efficient, order taker. No bonding, no bromance, nothing. It wasn’t a big issue, but something I did notice.
Nevertheless, the food arrived, and everything was ok in the world again. Every now and again, a chef comes along with a thundering reminder of how good an casual diningexperience can really be. Chef Ilias, although on vacation when I dined there, has left a very capable team in charge.
The Greek salad was spot on – it was fresh, crisp and acidic with all the flavours happening at the front of your mouth as they are meant to. The grilled calamari came in twoseasoned tentacles, semi-sliced and grilled, drizzled in olive oil and served with lemon. Simple, clean and fresh.
But now it’s time for my second gripe. The Dakos salad is the Greek answer to Italy’s Bruschetta. But not as good. This dish was the weakest of the evening, in my opinion. It isshredded tomato and feta cheese over Cretan barley rusk. It was soggy, stodgy and heavy. I don’t want to dwell on it.
However, I have left the best till last – the Chicken Gyros and the Keftedakia. The Gyros might have been the best I have ever tasted. The “Greek Shawarma,” this example was theperfect size with a strong, confident tzatziki sauce and marinated chicken that had just a touch of char to the meat. It was wrapped in a warm pita and served on a wooden board.Magical. The aroma is still with me this morning. Literally. Not good for a first date, by the way, but might be worth going home alone for.
The Keftedakia, which are simply Greek meatballs, were the star of the evening. A perfect culinary embodiment of what Mythos is all about; unpretentious, simple and classy.Presented five in a bowl, with a little garnish, the balls were juicy, flavourful and slightly pink in the middle. Never underestimate how easy it is to overcook and serve a dry, tastelessmeatball. This simple dish was a direct reflection of the care and focus that has gone into the menu. Chef Ilias wasn’t lying when he said it was Greek comfort food at its mostdelicious.
The restaurant is small – only 70 seats or so and on that mid-week evening, there were maybe twenty other guests dining there. The atmosphere was relaxed and comfortable.Even the usually horrific Greek music managed to play its part perfectly. This is the sort of restaurant that subconsciously encourages strangers to talk to one another from table totable. A Greek couple were helping another table choose their food with genuine interest and care. (My point about the waiter was instantly vindicated) Mythos seems to effortlesslydo what many other restaurants strive their whole life-cycles to accomplish. They bring people together through their love of good food.
Mythos Kouzina & Grill deserve to be busy. They deserve reviews like this.