With more than a passing resemblance to Wolverine, motorbike racer and lorry mechanic Guy Martin is nothing if not a character. Adrenalin junkie, rogue and joker rolled into one, the Grimsby native is never dull and frequently entertaining. In the first episode of a new four-part series, Martin attempts to break the UK record for fastest outright speed on a bicycle: a rather daunting 110mph.
To achieve this feat, he enlists the help of various experts, including a bike builder, an engineer, a truck racer and Olympic medallist Laura Trott, the last of whom is a target of some shameless flirting. Of course, the practice, preparation and team assembly merely comprise the necessary preamble for the record attempt, but it’s more entertaining than it might be thanks to Martin’s infectious personality. His fearlessness is astounding too, although it’s quite possible that he’s just a little bit mad.
This Greek spot in Marylebone didn’t exactly hit the ground running. In Opso’s first month it took me three visits to find the kitchen in full tilt. Visit one had a partial menu. On visit two the restaurant was unexpectedly closed. A stoic third attempt was rewarded with some excellent meze dishes. Opso blends its modern architectural look with a contemporary menu of small plate dishes – mezédes – that are pimped up almost beyond recognition. ‘Taramas cream’ (taramasalata) was a world away from bright pink supermarket tubs. Served with crisp olive crackers, the pale, untinged cod roe was delicate and fresh. Served as a dessert, tsoureki – a brioche-like bread usually eaten at Easter – was like a panettone in appearance and lightness. This, like all the other baked goods, was made in house. It came flavoured with mahlab and mastic, traditional Greek spices made from cherry kernels and tree resin respectively, giving it a distinctive, almost bitter almond or cedar aroma. Served with clotted cream and sour cherry jam, it was like an Attic afternoon tea. Not all dishes were improved by modernisation, though. Pastitsio is usually a lasagne-like slab of macaroni baked with ground beef and béchamel sauce: comfort food. But here the elements were deconstructed and swapped around, then plated in a mound, ‘MasterChef Greece’-style. Although the allspice flavours in the beef were good, tagliatelle-style pasta was a fiddle too far. The simpler dishes worked best, such as the dakos,