10 Greek Street
Eating Out

It’s a 10 from me

Lunching at one of Soho’s finest as it celebrates a decade of unassuming excellence

This article is taken from the April 2022 issue of The Critic. To get the full magazine why not subscribe? Right now we’re offering five issues for just £10.

There’s a moment in the Netflix series The Crown where Princess Margaret, played by Vanessa Kirby, recites John Betjeman’s Blitz-time poem, In Westminster Abbey:

Think of what our Nation stands for,
Books from Boots and country lanes,
Free speech, free passes, class distinction,
Democracy and proper drains.

In the film, the quote figures as a wry tribute from privilege to provincialism, but the whole poem is a scathing condemnation of smugness, selfishness and cowardice. Its lady speaker prays for all the proper things she ought to pray for, but most of all for her own safety. She concludes:

And now, dear Lord, I cannot wait
Because I have a luncheon date.

So just write the restaurant review. Something suitably light, bright and sparkling, a quirky fact here, a snarky comment there. Don’t add to the convoy of futile words, don’t be a vindicated Cassandra signalling your own superior knowledge, don’t paint yet another gloss on the enormity of our twenty years’ complacency. Light a candle if you must, go on the march, send the donation and the powdered milk, lobby your MP for an urgent amendment to the disgrace that is the Home Office visa scheme, but don’t try to assuage your own sense of horrified powerlessness by writing about it. 

More a flatbread with inspired flavouring than a pizza

10 Greek Street celebrates its tenth anniversary in Soho this year and still looks as current as when it was opened by Cameron Emirali in the year that Vladimir Putin succeeded Dmitry Medvedev to serve his third term in the Kremlin. 

White tiles, big windows, small tables, dangly plants, current but not trying so hard it became a hipster cliché. At present, the modern European menu has an Italian bent, perhaps a nod to the fact that it started offering pizza as a lockdown-friendly option in 2020. 

Extremely superior pizza — the three listed at lunch included butternut squash, olives, Blu di Bufala and rosemary, ‘Nduja, ricotta and broccoli and our choice, salt cod with cockles, tomatoes, lemon and capers. Not really a pizza in the strictest sense of the word, more a flatbread with inspired flavouring, but I loved the way the flavours conjured an older, riparian London, the pickle and brine of the Thames soothed and sweetened by the fruit. It’s a clever chef who can remind you that tomatoes were once exotic. 

Cockles also featured in leek fritters with properly asperous aioli (best avoided if you have a post-lunch meeting), whilst the capers lent their vinegary tang to a Spanish-y hake with cauliflower and raisins, one of just ten dishes on a lunch menu which is as varied as it is pointedly concise. 

Whole quail with sobrasada and olives was tempting, but crumbed lamb’s tongue with tartare sauce and watercress was unignorable. 10 Greek Street is known for having an unassuming yet original flair for the kinds of humble ingredients that are often cried up as challengingly edgy. 

Cook for Ukraine is offering workshops in London with proceeds going to UNICEF

10 Greek Street is a truly excellent restaurant and it deserves better than this review. The prices are extraordinarily reasonable for central London, let alone cooking of this level of refinement, the staff are poised and helpful, and as well as the regular wine list they offer a handwritten “little black book” of unusual one-off bottles. 

It’s streamlined enough for a business lunch, sexy enough for a date and wonderfully free of that Soho archness that still sends some establishments in what used to be the square mile of sin a bit Danny La Rue. 

I called 10 Greek Street and they confirmed that they were intending to participate in the Cook for Ukraine initiative. For anyone who doesn’t know, this London-founded charity, created by Ukrainian chef Olia Hercules and her Russian friend Alissa Timoshkina, aims to raise awareness of the present crisis and provide funds for supplies and feeding refugees. 

Over 200 UK restaurants are already involved and the movement has spread worldwide, celebrating traditional Ukrainian cooking and partnering with World Central Kitchen which is supplying meals in and around the war zone. 

Cook for Ukraine is offering workshops in London with proceeds going to UNICEF. Their Instagram account provides recipes, fundraising suggestions and — perhaps even more importantly — requests for information from Ukrainians attempting to get their families out. 

Please take a look at it. Food is humanity’s oldest conversation and everybody gets a seat at the table. This isn’t about stewing up a pot of borscht and giving yourself a pat on the back. It’s about helping desperate people who need maps and money who have nonetheless taken the time to post their recipes and ingredients, those primal points of human connection which throw bridges across the world and between generations which have lasted longer than any empire. 

Enjoying The Critic online? It's even better in print

Try five issues of Britain’s newest magazine for £10

Critic magazine cover