Thinking about Greece many things can come to your mind: Sokrates, Pythagoras, Plato and Philosophy but also the amazing view of Santorini, beautiful mediterranean beaches, maybe in your case also some food but in my case, I was completely new to Greek cuisine.
It's a shame Greek gastronomy is not as knows as Italian or Spanish, their cuisine includes the typical healthy mediterranean diet with fresh ingredients such as fish, cheeses, olives and some spices you can find in Italian cuisine like oregano, bay leaves and garlic, but it goes a little beyond that. It has some Ottoman and Middle Eastern influence which you can see in their flat bread, grills and dips such as melitzanosalata and taramosalata, which you can think of as a Greek version of the baba ghabnoush and a cured roe hummus-lika paste. It also incorporates some Italian ideas in dishes like pastitsio and mousakka, which are similar to Italian lassagna.
Taverna, is a Greek restaurant located in Souq Madinat, opposite to Trader Vic's and with a nice view of the lake. Wanna find out how good it is? bear with us.
To get to Taverna, first you need to reach Souq Madinat and park, once in the Souq, you can ask around, that's what we did, anyone who works there at the Souq will be happy to guide you to the restaurant, you'll need to take a lift downstairs, getting out of it you'll be outdoors, on your left side you'll see Trader Vic's and on your right, there will be Taverna, they have an outdoors seating option which I'm guessing is amazing when the weather is good (not in summer), otherwise, indoors is also nice and cozy.
In the Restaurant
The setting is cozy, it has plenty of light so you get to see what you're eating. The decoration is rustic yet elegant which make a statement about the whole Taverna experience. Once you enter, you're greeted by the host, who is wearing a mask, and taken to your table where you'll be then introduced to your waiter, who is also wearing a mask.
It was time to order, and we had:
- Grilled Octopus
- Grilled Calamari
- Ribeye on the bone
- Greek Yoghurt Pavlova
For drinks we had:
- Peach Iced Tea
- House white wine
Dish by Dish
This is like a salmon lumps hummus!, it's creamy, fishy and a bit tangy, the in-mouth feeling is very silky, it comes with a basket of flat bread, smoked with rosemary, which you can taste in the ashes, it's very refreshing and a great way to start your meal by dipping some bread and get the conversation going.
Woodfire grilled octopus
At some point we were obsessed with octopus, we tried octopus dishes at many restaurants and this is among our favorite ones, seriously I wold eat this thing all day!, we usually order everything for sharing and when we order Taverna's Woodfire Grilled Octopus, we have to order one for each, otherwise we will fight.
This is a slow-cooked octopus tentacle, probably in a sous-vide, then it goes to the grill. You can feel the crust from the grill on the outside, that smoky flavor from the wood grill as well. As you chew it, it becomes very tender and you can still feel the smoke from the grill and a hint of lemon in the octopus. It's perfectly cooked every time!, we've tried it on our countless visits by now and it's always spot on!.
It comes served with fava beans pouree and a fava beans and green apple salad, both complement the dish perfectly by adding flavor and texture, everything together makes a great dish, we order it every time. It tastes as good as it looks.
This might look weird, but it's not, this is a huge squid, grilled to perfection so it's not chewy at all, but still al-dente, served with a bit of fava bean pouree, grilled endives, feta cheese and lemon. It's as delicious as refreshing, the endives get a nice smoky flavor from the grill and adds a great texture to the whole dish, this is a must try if you visit Taverna, it's consistently good and spot on every single time we've ordered, and it's been quite a few.
Ribeye on the bone
Who doesn't love a very well prepared steak, I like it medium rare or medium depending on the cut and the type of beef, this one was perfectly medium and seasoned with a mix of greek spices which gives it a different taste, the salad is refreshing and a good way to reset your palate for the next bite. I loved the fries with a hint of oregano, everything together makes it a great bbq dish.
Greek yoghurt pavlova
This is one of our favorite desserts, it's very light and delicate. Layers of meringue with fruits and cream with a greek yoghurt ice cream on the side, topped with berries and figs. I have no words to describe how good this dessert is, I've tried other pavlovas and this is the one I like the most, I've also tried other desserts at Taverna but, again, this one gets all the prizes. You'll have to try it yourself, I really don't know what else to say.
When we order it for take away, I've had to fight the chef many times because they worry the pavlova will lose its integrity on the way, a very valid point and I appreciate they have such passion for their food, but I would eat it even if it's served all broken and a bit melted, this is how good it is. Just so the chef knows, no pavlovas had been harmed in our take-away orders so far.
Taverna is a very consistent restaurant, every single time we've visited the food has been up to the same standards, delicious every time, we've featured the dishes we tried the most in this review, but we've tried many more and you'll have to follow us on instagram if you want to know what else to try. If you're shopping at Souk Madinat or staying nearby, this is a great place to go for lunch or dinner.
- Overall: 5 out of 5. Friendly staff, nice ambience great food and delicious desserts
- Value for money: 5 out of 5, it won't break the bank if you don't go crazy with the wine, it's a very nice dining experience and you surely won't regret it.