Halloumi

Whenever it’s one of my squads birthday it’s now tradition that the birthday boy or girl gets to choose where we go out to eat. So to celebrating the birth of one of my BFF’s Louise we found ourselves a few weeks ago in Halloumi in the city center to enjoy a little Greek eats.

I’d only visited once before for their launch night last year, so was really keen to give them a proper try.

Halloumi is a Greek-Cypriot mezze restaurant which is doing a modern take on a Greek restaurant. And these guys should definitely know their Greek food, because they are the sister restaurant to Athena on Elderslie Street… which I really like.

The contemporary stylish décor at Halloumi is clean and bright, with a nod to the traditional which can be found in the framed broken plate mosaic and the large Greek flag on the wall. I like that the open kitchen at the back of the restaurant becomes quite a big feature of the restaurant, the lighting is low in the restaurant (horrendous for pictures) so the bright light spreading from the kitchen keeps catching the eye. It’s a cool, modern restaurant with a relaxed vibe.

Staff wise our waiter was really lovely – friendly, a little chatty and seemed to always be smiling. A really nice guy – which we all commented on.

As I said before this is a mezze restaurant so the dishes are all small sharing style plates…. Great! You know that I love sharing food so I was excited. However after looking at the menu and with being a large table of 8 we decided just to order our own plates, because quite a few of the dishes (Gyros, moussaka etc) just didn’t look at easy to share. So we all decided to order three dishes each with the agreement that everyone was happy to share if someone wanted to try something.

To get the food ball rolling we decided to order up some pittas and dips, which arrived at the table quickly. The pita was warm and soft so they obviously tasted great, it’s hard not to love warm dough, right? We order 3 different dips to go with the pitas – Houmous, Taramasalata and Tzatziki, all of which were good. Although if I had to pick a favourite it would definitely be the Taramasalata, which was thick and creamy with just enough of the fishy flavour from the cod roe coming through.

With our mains we ordered sharing portions of Halloumi fries and Hand cut chips with grated halloumi for the table. Well, we figured it would be rude to visit Halloumi without getting some Halloumi.

WOWZERS – so halloumi fries are most definitely a thing! The coating was crunchy and give the fries texture, and inside was soft gooey melty halloumi..there is literally nothing not to like about these sticks of moorish cheese, which is why it was easily my dish of the night.

As I said we went with the recommended 3 dishes per person in addition to the fries, I decided to order………

Crispy Calamari with garlic mayo – okay so let’s get the negative out of the way first…the calamari were definitely not crispy, in fact I would say that the batter was actually kind of soft. That negative aside they still tasted good – the squid was cooked nicely, the batter was well seasoned and the garlic mayo I could have happily bathed in it was so lovely. If the batter had a bit of bite they would have been perfect.

Chicken Souvlaki – these chicken kebabs were certainly up there for consideration as dish of the night for me. The chicken was juicy but utterly packed with smoked charred flavour from the grill. It just such a simple dish but so fantastically flavourful, especially once you added the crunchy tangy onion and pepper salad to the plate.

Pork Gyros – which is a toasted flatbread with marinated pork tzatziki, chips and salad. This dish was massive and in fact would have been enough for me just on it’s own. So after I’d finished the calamari and souvlaki I only managed to eat about half of my gyros. It was nice – there was lots of large tender chunks of pork, lashings of made in house tzatziki and chips all dusted with paprika. My only complaint was that by the time I got round to eating it it was cold…that is obviously no fault of the restaurants tho.

Price wise I have to say I did find it a tad on the expensive side, at £32 per person for a 1 course meal and a few dips and pita breads to start. Don’t get me wrong the food really good on the whole, and no one had any real complaints about it…. But we did all raise our eyebrows at a bill of £65 a couple.

For me personally Halloumi isn’t really a Saturday night venue, not because it’s not nice and the vibe wasn’t cool. It more because we were in and out within an hour, I should point out that we never at any point felt rushed by the staff at all, that was just as long as it took to order and eat. I do however think it’s a fantastic lunch or after work spot to enjoy a few dishes and a glass of wine. I will definitely pop in again if I was near by and fancied a quick bite of tasty food.

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