A slice of Santorini in Dubai
I love discovering a new restaurant in Dubai that immediately takes my breath away with its no-frills simplicity and charm. In this case it’s partly down to a degree of surprise given the obscure and contrasting urban location in JLT, hidden behind the Armada Bay hotel. Even though I know where I am heading, I have no expectations. Swinging open the door, I happen upon powdered stone walls, flowing arches and geometric tile flooring, with rustic, white-washed taverna chairs and blue-striped cushioned banquettes. Cutlery sits casually in a small bucket on the table. It literally is a slice of Santorini in Dubai. Mythos Kouzina & Grill is a new casual Greek restaurant developed by the folks behind long-standing success story Elia in Bur Dubai. So new, it has yet to secure an alcohol licence, but that’s en route apparently.
In the meantime, expect traditional, authentic taverna dishes, unlike Eat Greek on The Beach whose cuisine has a modern twist. The menu is divided into starters, salads, ‘kouzina’ aka classic home-made kitchen dishes, grills, ‘souvlaki’ kebabs including pork galore, and desserts of course.
The tomato kefta or the ‘tomatokeftedes’ as we prefer to call them (if you don’t already know I am half Greek-Cypriot) is a traditional dish hailing from Santorini. A pure veggie dish of fried tomato and fetta fritters served on a wooden chopping board arrive as little balls of delicious fried goodness. A seafood taverna staple of fried calamari marries the freshly crisped texture of fried batter with super tender flesh.
You can always tell a good Greek restaurant by its Greek salad – and Mythos’ is as authentic as it gets. Brimming with chopped cucumbers, tomatoes, slivers of red onions, Kalamata olives (which are also served with a bread basket on arrival), a huge slab of feta cheese sprinkled with oregano, and drizzled with olive oil – it is unlike Cyprus‘ version where much to the dismay of Greeks, we add lettuce.
Onto main courses, a grilled sea bass drizzled with lemon and olive oil disappoints with an over-cooked fillet that does not fall apart at the touch of a fork. A little more generosity with the accompanying steamed wild greens wouldn’t go amiss either. On the other hand, two ample skewers of chicken souvlaki kebab, a glorified street food dish, is excellent, with some of the most succulent chicken breast meat I have eaten in a long time here. A mini pot of tzatziki, the traditional yoghurt dip of cucumber, dill and garlic is smooth and on point. Served with hand-cut fries and home-made pitta that my low-carb diet sadly does not allow – but that instead permits my friend to polish them off. A couple of desserts call out to me once this diet is done and dusted – the loukoumades (a lighter version of luqeimat), and baklava.
Service is a little off with different waiters asking whether we would like to order water one after the other, right through to the typically impossible task of grasping their attention when we want to settle the bill – super frustrating. A shame as it’s a pretty affordable one at AED150 for three courses per person. Admittedly the restaurant is packed on a Monday night to the point that because I have not booked we are asked to sit at the entrance on high stools at bar tables, until a spot in the main dining room becomes available. It’s wonderful to see a new restaurant that is not even serving booze yet buzzing from the outset with residents, many of whom are Greeks. And trust me they are a fussy bunch known as serial complainers, so their custom really is testament to the quality of Mythos.
The service most definitely needs improving and I expect given our issue with the fish, some dishes are better executed than others, however all-in-all, if you’re after a a cheap, cheerful and charming lunch or dinner, then Mythos is your new Santorini-in-Dubai hangout.
Have you dined at any of Dubai’s Greek restaurants? What’s your favourite Greek dish?
P.S – the same folks are opening Nola next door, a New Orleans-inspired restaurant and bar with jazz.