Ouzeri Mediterranean Restaurant Bar Cafe
To facilitate the year passing quickly and eventfully, a couple of uni friends and I decided to attempt dining out on a weekly basis. I short-listed some places I wanted to go and Justin chose Ouzeri as our first venture.
We went on a Tuesday evening. It was really early so there were hardly any other diners. Ouzeri is one of those restaurants that to me, is a landmark within West End. I was aware of it long before I got all these recommendations for it. Ouzeri has an expansive outdoor dining space that encompasses a corner block. Lots of blue and white checkered table cloths (love it :D).
After umming and ahhing over the menu, we went for the stress-free option of a Greek Banquet. Banquets are charged per head with a minimum of 2 people required for the order. Natasha was the only one of us who had been to Ouzeri before and she assured as that the banquets were huge so we should just order for 2 people and share between the 3 of us. Being the hungry savage I am, I was skeptical of this but it turned out that she was 100% correct.
The first course in the banquet was breads, dips, garlic bread, dolmades and grilled haloumi.
I'm not a huge fan of dolmades and the other 2 seemed to share my opinion. Grilled haloumi is always a win for me. The garlic bread was well, garlic bread. What stood out for us was the pita bread and dips. I loved the mild spiciness of the pita bread - it made them different to other conventional bread and dip offerings. As for the dips, we got: eggplant, potato (skordalia), fish roe (tarama) and something yogurty that didn't seem like tzatziki but perhaps it was.
Next in line was a large bowl of fried calamari and a bowl of Greek salad. I've heard raves about this particular Greek salad. Aside from the vegetables being fresh and it having a nicely balanced dressing, I personally didn't find it a stand out. Apparently the pickled jalapenos are what does it but I can't say that's my type of food.
The fried calamari are served with lemon and taste like your standard fish and chip shop deal. They were nice and crunchy and you can't really go wrong with deep fried calamari but they weren't like 'wow'.
By the time meat was served, we were already quite full. There were 2 types of souvlaki served - lamb and chicken. I thought I'd prefer the lamb hands down and it was lovely but the chicken was amazingly tender. Nice flavors. We ended up packing a couple of skewers for lunch the next day.
I have to make a comment on service. It's not usually something I make a note of unless service is exceptional or terrible. Here, I wouldn't say 'terrible' but we definitely got a bit of attitude from a couple of the waitresses. By which I mean eyerolls, abrupt speaking manner and just general unfriendliness. The food came out quickly though, I suppose because many tables were ordering banquets so it was easier for them to plate up.
The food at Ouzeri is nice and it's a great set up for large meals with friends because everything begs to be shared. Nothing really stood out to me as remarkable but I was told by a Greek friend that the food is authentic.