My first impressions of The Greek Larder, a relatively recent arrival in the new development to the north of Kings Cross station were not auspicious. The toilets were labelled "bathrooms", which in English is a place where you take off your clothes and lie in a tub of hot water. Why?
And the background music was loud (as well as probably not anyone's taste). But while I never got over the "bathroom" bit, the music proved a good idea as the place filled up, enabling you to converse with your own table while ignoring others.
One further moan. Even though it was obvious that all our party had not arrived, an over eager server asked us several times if we wanted her to go through the menu and place an order.
Once these gripes were out of the way, we could concentrate on the food - which after all was the reason for going there. Anyone expecting Greek food like holiday Greece is likely to be very disappointed. Or maybe, very happy because the grilled meat and more grilled meat so often served gets tedious after the first day.
The Greek Larder - you are surrounded by packets of Greek food which you can purchase - uses largely Greek ingredients with imagination and a degree of flair. The wine and beer list is entirely Greek. And somebody - Theodore Kyriakou - actually puts his name to this.
The portions are generous. Our party of six started with two meze platters (£13 each). These consisted of taramosolata, dolmadakia, htipiti, fava, tzatziki, gigandes, and skordalia. Half of these were unknown to us - the menu could have been more helpful here (as it is on main courses) - but even those we thought we knew were served in a more imaginative fashion. They were pronounced delicious.
Main courses are around £18-£22. In our group, three chose the stuffed old spot pork with apricots, vine leaves, chickpeas and Romanesque cauliflower assanta. They all loved it. Two went for the fish (what you get exactly depends on availability). This is cooked "Spetse style" with tomato, spring onions, herbs and bread crumbs. I've been to Spetse but never saw fish like this. It was good.
I opted for the Roast Goosenargh duck fricassee, slow cooked with seasonal greens. I was wary of this, a duck is rarely on a Greek menu, but eating it was a real pleasure. Between us, we consumed three portions of chips - they were good. You need some starch.
It was all washed down with a few bottles of Exis , a red wine from Macedonia described - and this is quite accurate as Good cohabitation of ruby colour, aroma and intense flavour with good acidity. (£28).
Despite the large portions, some of us still had a yearning for pudding. Desserts are more what you would expect - baklava (good) and cheesecake (a disappointing note).
Including wine and service, expect to pay around £45 per head.
The Greek Larder
Arthouse, I York Way, London N1C 4AS
Nearest station Kings Cross
Telephone 020 3780 2999