THE TRANSATLANTIC MAGAZINE
I spent most of lockdown cultivating good habits. I practiced breathing and yoga every day. I learned to eat with restraint and stopped drinking alcohol. Last night it all went out the window. It was magnificent!
INO is the brainchild of the team behind OPSO in Marylebone and 2 Michelin-starred Funky Gourmet in Athens. It’s all about cooking over charcoal and the countertop seating gives a bird’s-eye view of the fireworks.
The space is small so the music and kitchen create quite a buzz. After so long in quietude, the vibe just filled me with life. I wanted to down an Ouzo, smash my glass and dance my best Zorba. The lower level with 4 tables is more chilled but I recommend sitting in front of the kitchen. It’s a great show and the team are fun and helpful. We were served by Executive Chef Nikos Roussos. His enthusiasm is infectious. We had a ball.
The food is filled with fusion but never loses the flavor of Greek tradition. A lovely, smoky aroma permeates everything.
We started with Kakavia (£12). A light fish broth flavoured with lemon and olive oil and served with sashimi. It’s dip and sip and absolutely delicious. Taramas (£9) elevates the classic taramasalata beyond recognition. Served with slow-cooked egg yolk, bottarga and the best pitta bread I have ever tasted.
Okra (£8) came beautifully grilled with a rich tomato sauce and top quality feta. Fava beans (£12) are served stifado style, pureed with onions and vinegar and lightly smoked eel. Excellent. A Metsovone cheese croquette with strawberry jam (£8) would work better towards the end of the meal but flew down my hatch nonetheless.
Grilled octopus (£15) got a bit lost in a flatbread taco with smoked tomato and onion crisps but the meat dishes are superb. The funky burger (£7) is Nikos’ version of a gourmet slider, with a tahini brioche bun and tartar sauce. Iberico pork Presa (£12) made a sensational souvlaki and California Wagyu beef short ribs just rocked! Cut lengthwise into thin strips, grilled to perfection and served simply with a wedge of lemon to cut through the rich fat. An absolute must. Lamb chops (£12) with labneh and Greek chimichurri pack a full on flavour punch.
The wine list is all Greek and a pleasure to sample. Oenops, Apla, Assyrtiko (£10 per glass) was a standout. Great legs, tons of fruit and a good balance of sweetness and acid. A Katsaros Cabernet Sauvignon (£13 per glass) won the day. Full bodied, dark plum, spice and soft tannins. Superb with meat.
For dessert, the red box (£12) is a mini candy shop of baklava wafers, truffles and confections with edible wrappers. A joy.
Back home, I couldn’t breathe because my clothes had shrunk. Yoga was completely out of the question. I was intoxicated and restraint of any sort was clearly a thing of the past. Gee it’s great to be my old self again!