Following a recent trip to Greece, I have been in search for somewhere that serves authentic Greek food in Manchester. I didn’t know much about Greek cuisine before spending some time in Greece with two Greek friends who did an amazing job of immersing me in the local culture and introducing me to their amazing cuisine. Turns out it’s not all pita, feta and chicken on sticks!
Dimitri’s embodies the spirit of Greece. Loud, jovial music resonates throughout the restaurant and bar, the staff are extremely friendly and food is authentic, great-tasting and served promptly. Prices are very reasonable.
The walls are brightly painted with images of Greek mythology, adding to the warm and inviting mood. For slightly more intimacy, you can escape the hubbub of music and chatter in the restaurant’s charming atrium.
With live music from the bar drifting into the dining room, we read through the menu. Dishes are written in Greek, with English explanations beneath, so you’ll need a few minutes. Our waitress was a great help with selecting dishes and explaining the cuisine. Once we were happy, she briskly put in our order with the chefs and returned with a bottle of Retsina Greek white wine; when in.. Athens? The wine had a unique flavour; it is lightly infused with pine resin which leaves a delicate flavour on your palette. The Retsina paired excellently with the various dips and pita, and even its mature flavour added a little something to the pork sausage dish.
The kitchen is run by a multinational team, a couple of whom are Greek and keep a watchful eye on the authenticity of the cooking. I didn’t spot any English servers; all spoke with gorgeous foreign accents and I felt as if I was truly in Greece.
The dips and pita can be eaten as a starter, however I love to mix and match my foods so we asked that all our dishes arrived together. Our chosen dips were a classic hummus, the tirokefteri (a blend of feta and red pepper), taramasalata (made with salted and cured cod’s roe) and finally the chunky Istanbuli tomato and herb dip. These came with a generous basket of warm pita bread, cut into pieces for easy dipping. The hummus had great texture; it was left a little rough rather than blended until completely smooth, whereas the taramasalata was silky smooth and although understandable quite salty, balanced by a hint of lemon.
Rather than ordering a full sized horiatiki (or Greek salad to you and me), our waitress advised that we pick a side order of mixed leaf salad with peppers, cucumber, red onion and tomatoes, then add-on feta cheese which gives you an exact replica of the full sized salad (which is meant as a meal-for-one by itself). Although a Greek salad never contains leaves, this alteration was fine by me. The peppery rocket, crisp iceberg and slightly bitter red chard went nicely with several of the meze dishes.
My favourite dish of the night was the chilli gamberas; large prawns in a spicy tomato and dill sauce with sliced fresh green chillies. You need not be a lover of spice to enjoy this as the heat level is mild, but the flavour certainly is not. The sauce had great depth. It was fresh, aromatic and gives a little heat, but is not overpowering; the prawns are still the star.
Another impressive dish was the yemistes; green bell peppers, halved and stuffed with rice and herbs, then baked topped with béchamel sauce. The rice retained a nice bite and was packed with fragrant dill. The béchamel was light and refreshing, unlike the buttery and rich béchamel of French and Italian dishes.
I was a little disappointed by the Loukaniki (traditional Greek pork sausage), but this may be because I was expecting something quite different. I found the sausage too dense and a touch on the sweet side. It was more like a hot dog sausage than the minced, meaty kind I am used to in the UK. The accompanying tzatziki (garlic and cucumber yoghurt dip) was flavoursome – I mopped it up with some of the pita bread.
Our last pick was the ‘Blue Funghi’; bouncy button mushrooms in a light blue cheese sauce. This rounded off the meal nicely.
Overall the spread was a filling and varied selection; seafood, meat, salad, veg and rice. I always meze/tapas-style eating; it allows diners so try a little of everything and gives a relaxed feeling to dining out. Take your time, have a couple of beers, some of Dimitri’s house-made Greek Ouzo punch or share a bottle of wine, chat into the early hours. You’ll never feel as if you have overstayed your welcome here.
Dimitri’s Taverna and Bar
T: +44 (0)161 839 3319
Open 11:00-00:00 (Mon-Thurs & Sun), 11:00-02:00 (Fri & Sat)