Lemonia is a Greek family fun tavern situated in between Primrose Hill and Chalk Farm. This is not our usual hangout but we had been recommended this place by Greek friends. The restaurant is huge and split in two by a brick fireplace, wall and bar. It is light and airy and the large windows open out onto the front of the street in the summer and tables spill out onto the bustling paths.
As we walked in we managed to grab a flustered waiter and he found our reservation and sat us down. We were seated by the window but on a very tiny table and when we asked if we could move further into the restaurant our ask was declined as it was going to be a busy service apparently. To be honest it did get busier later but there were still tables available. To be honest I think it was just hassle for them and they didn’t want it on a Friday night.
The huge restaurant was split into three; one space where the fireplace, wall were on the opposite side, the mirror area where the bar was, and the area we were in with split by a low brick wall onto an almost courtyard looking area. This area had a glass ceiling and fake ivory around it (that was the area we had hoped to be moved to.)
Anyway we were seated and were given bread and the menu. We ordered a bottle of rioja and the meze for two. The waiter was flustered but this seemed the way of all of the staff. Do not get me wrong they were efficient but looked constantly flustered despite not being busy early on and I was stunned at how many of them there were. I would say a member of staff for every 3 or 4 people in the restaurant. Incredible! Big family I say!
Dishes of salad and dips were first served, including aubergine dip, a coriander and lemon dip, tzatziki dip, hummus, olives, pitta bread. As the table was so small the dishes would not fit so we asked if we could use the next table to us until people came to occupy this. After um’ing and arh’ing the waiter decided that we could put the bread and wine on there for a ‘short time’. We tucked in and have to say that it was all very delicious and Mediterranean. I did not feel as though it was all homemade – I may be wrong about that but that was my personal judgment. It came out too quick, the textures were too smooth and the flavour was not strong or personalised by the chef enough.
We then were served with squid, calamari, prawns and white bait. All of these dishes were delicious, served in a thick lemony mayonnaise cream. It was a little rich I have to admit but the seafood was not over cooked and was thoroughly enjoyable.
The meat dish followed; this consisted of small sausages, gammon pieces, halloumi and chicken. The chicken was the star here, cut into thick chucks and was moist and juicy. The gammon pieces were salty as gammon often is but was very tasty. The halloumi was cooked to perfection and the sausages were nice and not greasy at all. The meat course was a clear favourite here. We were stuffed but thought we had desert to come – as that is the traditional way in Greek meze’s I am told – however we were asked if we wanted to order a separate dessert so were clearly wrong (or more likely they cut corners.)
To be fair our dishes were taken away quickly, our water and wine were topped up and the waiters knew their stuff. The only issue I had was that once we said we did not want desert and we asked for the bill and it took the longest while to catch the attention of the waiters. In the end we decided to walk up to reception and pay as we had a train to catch. Not ideal.
This place is perfect for families, old friends and anyone who wants a casual place to eat and drink with no reason to impress. Do not get me wrong this was one of the best Greek’s I have had in London and is pretty authentic but the scatty service, the strange seating arrangements and the half and half home cooked dishes are not for occasions to impress. As a result we give this place:
Food Atmosphere Service