The Athenian is fun, affordable and most of all, delicious, writes Sammy Milton
In the midst of a freak summer heatwave, some people lose their appetites, craving only light bites such as limp salads or sugary ice lollies. Happily, I am not one of those people, and was absolutely delighted at the prospect of trying out The Athenian, one of the hottest new restaurants at the buzzing Cargo 2 in Wapping Warf on the hottest day of the year.
Hot being the operative word – it was around 30 degrees outside and unimaginably sweltering in the shipping-container-come-restaurant – not that this put these guys off. It was all hands on deck, and with a huge queue snaking out the door and round the corner, it was clear to all that this place was already making a great first impression.
Despite the huge crowds, manager Jordan was immediately out to meet us and was happy to answer any questions we might have had. We placed our orders and took a seat outside with a nice cold Greek beer.
First up we were brought a platter of their very special pittas and dips. The bread was lovely, light and firm, and is handmade in Athens and imported directly over to their shops. The dips (also handmade), were gorgeous and varied. We had the honour of trying all four – tyrokafteri, tzatziki, souvlaki sauce and melitzanosalata – and all were excellent. Large portions, they are priced at £3.00 each.
For our main courses, we went for a bit of a mix. The menu at The Athenian is simple and easy to follow, and provides many options for meat eaters, vegetarians and vegans alike. You can go handheld and order a souvlaki – one of their wraps with a choice of one or two grilled fillings and fries – or go larger with kebabs of meat, halloumi, fries and salad in a box. Sides include olives, salads and more of those delicious fries, and all prices vary on what you choose – though nothing is over £10.00.
I went with a ‘super’ souvlaki, a wrap with grilled pork and halloumi, fries, salad and tzatziki (£6.50), and was slightly taken aback when it arrived. It was huge – you get a lot for your money here – and full to the brim with gorgeous, fresh fillings.
The pork was perfect, fatty and juicy (just how I like it) and the halloumi was unlike any I’ve tried before. And rightly so – they import theirs straight from southern Greece. The salad was crunchy, the fries fluffy and well-seasoned and the sauce completed it. Excellent.
My dining companion went one up and ordered a ‘meaty’ box. With two skewers of chicken and pork, salad, fries and more lovely sauces and pitta (£7.50), this again was a generous portion with everything to offer. The meat was perfectly cooked, and it was the perfect meal for a bright summer's eve.
Overall, we found The Athenian a complete and utter triumph. The service was excellent, the food even more so and, judging by the crowds of people we saw that evening, everyone else seems to think so too. We can’t wait to come back.
Unit 16, Cargo 2, Wapping Wharf, Bristol BS1 6WD