You might be in Mornington Crescent, but step into Karavas and you'll be transported back to summer holidays and all the homely tastes of Greece and the Aegean Sea.
White linen table clothes, single roses and vast wine racks give Karavas the feel of an old school Greek or Italian restaurant. They could certainly teach some restaurants a thing or two about what matters in this trade, with a simple and airy venue that evokes the homeland impeccably.
It’s Grecian good times here. Service is friendly and unlaboured, and it’s hard not to be happy as the food comes out. Best with a group and a few bottles of wine, it’s a place for laughter and lively conversation - something that's encouraged by the enthusiastic staff.
You may come to Karavas with the thought that you’ll limit yourself to a main or a couple of starters. Presented with the menu, though, and any thoughts of not having at least two courses will vanish. Perfect starters include traditional dishes with heaped baskets of bread. Hummus, taramasalata and tzatziki are just £3.40, and deliver the savoury kick of garlic and herbs to start off a great meal.
Tasty salads of aubergine (£4.20) and tabouleh (£3.40), or a warm starter of grilled haloumi (£4.20), or loukanki (a spicy sausage at £4.20) are all recommended. The dolmades (£3.70) should not be missed, either - they're faithful (and therefore excellent) recreations of just what you get in Greece. There is so much appetising choice that a number of starters between the table is the best option - you'll polish them all off.
Many of the best options are meat-based, but for vegetarians there is a tasty and meatless moussaka, or the gemista, a dish of peppers stuffed with rice and herbs (both £10.20). There are delicious spit-roasted souvla (lamb, pork and chicken) served with tzatziki and tabouleh, though the recommendation has to be the kleftiko (13.40); the slow cooked lamb knuckle rubbed and marinated with bay, oregano and lemon juice before being cooked to perfection.
Standard drinks offering with wine by the bottle and the glass. Of course there’s always a little bit of Ouzo to be had to round of the night - just to ram home the authenticity.
The Last Word
Certainly not the trendiest of eateries around these parts, but it is one of the best in terms of food, service and value. It delivers on each, and there's not a smashed plate in sight.