For years, you could count the number of genuinely good Greek restaurants in London on one hand. And not even a full hand: more like one that had been inadvertently reduced in the name of repaying gambling debts. Then, in quick succession, two sizzlers rocked up. First came Notting Hill’s excellent Mazi. Then, just a few months later, a spin-off next door: Suzi Tros.
And like so many younger siblings – Gigi to Bella, Liam to Chris, Jake to Maggie – she’s every bit as attractive, but, well, a little more fun. Lighter and brighter than the rustic Mazi, Suzi Tros has more of a modish bistro vibe: window seats and a clean-lined counter at the front giving way to the dining room, a place of patterned floor tiles, farmhouse chairs and flickering oil lights. As we walked in, the speakers were blaring Greek power ballads: over the evening, as the lights dimmed, these softened to funkier grooves, and then, finally, no music at all. The air was thick, instead, with the loud chatter of a full room. Everyone was having a good time. Partly because of the staff, who know their stuff and brim with enthusiasm. And partly because of the food. Which is stellar.
It began with the tarama to end all tarama. I mean, whipped cod roe has become one of those ubiquitous dishes you’ll find at all the cool small-plates places, usually served with some waffer-thin cracker, but this one was dreamier. Thick, yet somehow also light and delicate. Even better was the squid – grilled food is a strength – which arrived in a buttery sauce and was both smoky and impossibly tender. You typically only get squid this good in a Greek home or in Greece itself.
But away from the classics – a giant, golden-edged parcel of spanakopita (spinach and cheese in filo pastry), a plate of magnificent marinated anchovies, flecked with parsley and teensy jewels of chopped tomato – there are lesser-seen options you need to try. Like the dakos. Usually, this Cretan fave is a bit like a Greek bruschetta: a soaked piece of the island’s famous barley rusk topped with tomatoes, feta and olives. Here, that rusk has been crumbled then put back together into a dense circle, topped with a thick smear of creamed feta, then the best of all the usuals: tomatoes (the smallest, ripest ones), black olives, capers and oregano. It looked like a small cheesecake-for-one you might get in the supermarket, but was stunning to eat: crumble and crunch offset by creamy and salty, then deep and intense notes, then fruity and tangy. Lovely.
A few flattish notes: the chicken thigh ‘tacos’, though pleasant, were on the dull side. The leek bread was too doughy. But these were minor blips. Great food, charming service and a buzzy, atmospheric room: Suzi Tros has got the lot.