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Restaurant review: Christaki's Greek Taverna

Andrew Hobbs gets into another fine meze

Published on January 14th 2010.

Restaurant review: Christaki's Greek Taverna

I DON'T want choice, I want quality. Hospitals, schools, arranged marriages, restaurant menus, the same rules apply. Convince me you know what you’re doing, and I’ll trust you and take what you offer.

No doubt you could
get all snooty about how authentic the food is, the quality of ingredients, the no-frills presentation, but that would be to criticise a Ford for not being a Bentley

Choice is so often a con. If the main courses outnumber the tables, there’s probably a huge freezer and a busy microwave involved.

And that’s why I like short menus, tasting menus, and “banquets”. I’m not fussy – in the past I’ve enjoyed rat stew, fried caterpillars and even a Ginsters pasty, so I’ll eat more or less anything, as long as it’s cooked well (okay, the Ginsters pasty was a mistake).

Mid-week, early evening, the Christakis Greek Taverna £16 “meat banquet” is a great deal, in more ways than one. Otherwise known as meze, the eastern Mediterranean version of tapas, it includes more than 20 dishes, and there are also vegetarian (£15) and fish (£17.50) banquets too, besides an a la carte menu.

That’s all we had, the meat banquet and a bottle of Cypriot wine, a dry white called Aphrodite (£13.95). Wikipedia informs me that Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love, was created from the splash made in the sea by the severed genitals of Ouranos. Anyway, it was a decent wine at a reasonable price.

And that’s what Christakis is about, really. The food is hearty and filling, great value for money, but at the weekends food and drink take second place to plate-smashing, belly-dancing and that funny Greek dance a bit like a sideways conga, where everyone bends at the knees. That’s every Friday and Saturday night, until 2am, and it’s only £15 per person.

Despite its narrow frontage, the restaurant is a big, high-ceilinged room, decorated with contemporary paintings giving an irreverent take on Greek culture, such as someone snogging a classical statue. Ho hum. It feels like a space designed for night-time rather than daylight.

What were those 20 courses? you ask. Having had only half a bottle of wine, I can remember most of them: Greek salad, olives, pitta bread, garlic bread, stuffed vine leaves, houmus, tzatziki, tahini, taramosalata, beetroot salad, sheftalia (home-made sausages with mince meat, onion, parsley and spices), halloumi and lounzta (grilled smoked fillet of pork), kalamari, grilled king prawns, lamb chops, afelia pork (cooked with wine and coriander), pork kebab, chicken kebab, meatballs in tomato sauce and for dessert, fresh fruit.

Highlights were the halloumi (salty grilled cheese, recommended for barbecues because it doesn’t melt), the exquisite garlic bread, the meat balls and sausages, and the houmus.

Dishes arrived in twos and threes, served deftly by strong, silent types, perhaps saving themselves for the weekend high-jinks, and the sweeping up afterwards all that broken crockery, I wonder if they sell it on for mosaic-making and flowerpot drainage material?

No doubt you could get all snooty about how authentic the food is, the quality of ingredients, the no-frills presentation, but that would be to criticise a Ford for not being a Bentley.

Unlike some restaurants that trade on their party atmosphere, Christakis also makes sure that the food is good, so that in the cold light of day, mostly sober, you can enjoy a decent running buffet at a great price. If you loitered at the Sainsbury deli counter all day, you could probably fill up for free on the little snacks they put out on trays with cocktail sticks, but apart from that, the Christakis banquet must be the best value in town. Choose it.

Venues are rated against the best examples of their kind: Fine dining against the best fine dining, cafés against the best cafés etc... Following on from this, the scores represent: 1-5: Saw off your leg and eat that; 6-9: Get a DVD; 10-11: Only in an emergency; 12-13: If you’re passing; 14-15 Worth a trip; 16-17 Exceptional; 18-19: Verging on greatness; 20: Does it get any better? No.

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28 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

ScousemaidAugust 4th 2009.

I don't understand how you can criticise what has to be one of the best restauants in the city. The food id always good, and well presented. We always take visitors to the city there and those with a real love of Greece and Greek culture really appreciate it. The staff are friendly and helpful and the food is good! I think that you must have mixed it up with somewhere else. The pre 7p.m. £9.99 menu is also excellent with plenty of choice.

MISSYBAugust 4th 2009.

OH MY ! Dig, thats not very nice is it. I actually lived near Sefton Park, South Liverpool darling ! Allerton road penthouse to be precise, Very european, uber cool and not a scally in sight ! (ha ha - Dig you are very cheeky) Mr Christaki was more concerned with Andreas playing the right music to create the right ambience ! ha ha

Acropolis Hair cream for tall gentlemenAugust 4th 2009.

Yammas, did I read you right? Only that kind of rant usually says it can only be found in Manchester..is it you have you moved south?

MISSYBAugust 4th 2009.

ha ha something to consider anyway !

Mr. Ray's Wig WorldAugust 4th 2009.

I thought he was more like 'The Hood' in Thunderbirds myself, Inspector.

Inspector Gideon SwayAugust 4th 2009.

May I use your pages on behalf of the Kirkby Constabulary (Barneys and Binge Division) to issue the following warning to the female readership of you upstanding organ?There is a bounder and a cad utilising the review sections of numerous electronic publications to entice young ladies out for an evening's quiet entertainment at popular hostels and public houses. At a given signal an altercation will take place between a two adjacent drinkers and they will embroil the chosen young lady within the fracas. Once the lady is held in a headlock by the female and the male participant is pulling at her ankles, across the table, the bounder and cad will intervene having returned from hi visit to the conveniences and demand they unhand his companion forthwith or both get a good thrashing. They release the shaken and dirnk soaked victim of the scam and he fetches them both a good clip round the ear warning them to watch their ways in the company of civilised folk. He will then comfort his companion, having won her confidence as a hero and a gentleman and escort her to the Mule Maison or Donkey Shed as it is known amongst the criminal classes. Once inside, the operation will conclude with a high pressure sales pitch and the lady will be left with a set of keys and the log book to a rusting 1977 Datsun Cherry "classic" her bank account £750 lighter.If you have been invited to such an evening please exercise due caution. The cad is known to carry a shovel and will often try to pass himself off as classic British film actor Mr Robert Morley, who we believe was most recently seen hosting the television series Britains Toughest Gangs after quiting his role in NorthEnders.

yammasAugust 4th 2009.

Dont waste your money here.Its not authentic Greek.For authentic Greek food only London can provide the true taste of Greece instead of the sickening taste of grease that these people slop onto your plates.

MISSYBAugust 4th 2009.

juice fm all day ! they even do promotions for the place. Dig make it town on Friday and your on ! Apologises are acceptable in form of cocktails or southern comfort !

Canin StreetAugust 4th 2009.

That doesn't say much Spanish Fly, you could quite easily substitute "in Christakis" for On a park bench.

Alec DaneAugust 4th 2009.


Inspector Gideon Sway a bit moreAugust 4th 2009.

Give yourself up lad, before it's too late. There's more to life than headlocks and drink.....then again that's how Mrs Sway got me to the altar.

V. H. F. RobertsAugust 4th 2009.

What? They have advertising on the wireless? When?

The Shovel Carrier to whom the Inspector refersAugust 4th 2009.

Hilarious. That's bordering on slander that Inspector. I'll have you know the lady your warning has already spent countless none quiet, drink soaked evenings in headlocks with myself and mutual cads & bounders.

Spanish flyAugust 4th 2009.

had a great time in cristakis last night. Still pissed!

Lord StreetAugust 4th 2009.

Arf arf arf!

DigAugust 4th 2009.

They ignored your booking and tried to keep you out on purpose. Can't take you Kirkby scallies anywhere.

ADAugust 4th 2009.

Why does this reviewer call any reader who has a diferent opinion to his snooty? what a way to make friends and influence people!

Bob Danvers WalkerAugust 4th 2009.

Michael I never know which one you are. Did you do the Austin Mitchell Goldmember of the House things or are you the man from "Take your Pick" with the yes and no gong?

EditorialAugust 4th 2009.

Dig, you can pay for this one yourself

queeny eyeAugust 4th 2009.

I think the reviewer is complimenting the food, AD...

missybAugust 4th 2009.

Ha ha surely only the only place you are going to get the true taste of Greece , is errrr in Greece ? Or are you telling us sheftalia,stuffed vine leaves, houmus, tzatziki, taramosalata are new dishes of London ? Ha ha - who has claimed bangers and mash, fish and chips ?

Afelia StifadoAugust 4th 2009.

Do footballers frequent Purleaki? If so, count me out! I can imagine them all loitering around the tradesman's entrance looking for a fight.

Long John BaldyAugust 4th 2009.

Is it possible that this preyer on women disguises himself? Perhaps with a bit of slap?

FellafeelAugust 4th 2009.

If you fancy a change from Christaki I would recomend a trip to Purpleaki. A very interesting dining experience. the only downside being that sadly there are no tables and you have to squat while the owner sits on your back. Avoid the mussels, they have got the owner into trouble before.

DigAugust 4th 2009.

Alright sorry. Can take you somewhere. Kirkby. Or The Horse and Jockey or Blue Anchor if you promise to behave.

MISSYBAugust 4th 2009.

Sadly Idon't agree that this resturant lives up to the constant radio advertsing hype. It really was a dissapointment. We made booking for 3 for after work meal before heading into town. We booked and double confirmed. We arrived and were promptly told by Mr Christaki we did not book. I advised that I did book bit upset but defeated, we turned to leave and he tells us we can eat if we are ok with a small table in a unwelcoming huff. A small table it was a prop up table in the corner and we then were told we would have 45 minutes to eat and leave ! Seriously ! Then half way through our food which was sloppy, badly presented and over cooked our bill arrived. I guess this was our gentle push out the door. Never again ! Never ever ! That said it was cheap. Maybe a reason for that.

Mr Michael MyersAugust 4th 2009.

Hilarious, as ever!

yammasAugust 4th 2009.

Nothing authentic about this place. Tourist food badly cooked and sloppily presented by uninterested staff.A terrible experience. If you want repeat custom dont give your diners indigestion with partly cooked food and dirty dishes.

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