For me, Greek food screams Spring / Summer. So Notting Hill’s Suzi Tros – which conjures up all the vibes of the Mediterranean, visually and culinary – was a natural choice for small plates over Easter weekend’s very blue skies and the final arrival of Spring. For years, you could count the number of genuinely good Greek restaurants in London on one hand (on this, see my review of Opso here). In short succession though, two sizzlers rocked up. First came Notting Hill’s excellent Mazi, opened seven years ago by Christina Mouratoglou and her husband Adrien Carre. Christina is from Thessaloniki, claimed by some (probably people from Thessaloniki) to be Greece’s culinary capital. Just a few months later, a spin-off next door, Suzi Tros, opened. More widely, Notting Hill seems to have become a centreground for Greek food – Zephyr (sister to Pachamama and Chicama) is also on My List.
Suzi Tros (translated: Suzy, You Eat) references the 1969 Greek film I Parisiana, in which a seamstress sets out to dazzle le tout Mykonos with allegedly French couture. Compared with its more rustic sibling, Suzi is lighter and brighter than Mazi and has more of a modern bistro vibe: window seats and a clean-lined counter at the front giving way to the dining room, a place of patterned floor tiles, farmhouse chairs and flickering oil lights. As we walked in, the speakers were blaring Greek power ballads and over the evening, as the lights dimmed, those softened to funkier grooves. A chilled Ibiza vibw. The air was thick with the loud chatter of a full room and the restaurant’s manager – Roy – greeting the continuous arrival of table reservations, even at 9.45pm. As Roy boastfully explained, tables (and stools) at Suzi Tros book up over a week in advance. Just based on the noise and chatter of the dining room and kitchen area, everyone seems to be having a good time. Partly because of the staff, who know their stuff and brim with enthusiasm. Partly because of the company – like Greek culture, dining here is all about togetherness. And partly because of the food.
The menu, which is divided into hors d’oeuvres, raw, garden, fish market and butcher, is designed to share. With a lot to choose from, you’ll want to pick wisely to avoid any table envy. Though seated at the counter, you’re on prime position for eyeing up the best plates here. And amazingly for a Greek restaurant, some of those best plates are vegan. Not least, the Smoked aubergine with soy glaze and red pepper cream (£14) – which should be a plate at the top of any order here – veggie or otherwise. To my initial disappointment, their renowned smoked aubergine laden with tahini and honey is no longer on the menu but its substitute must be stiff (or rather smokey…) competition. A tender flesh and a smokey finish, this aubergine is melt-in-the-mouth. With a strong umami quality, the red pepper cream has a wonderful savoury deliciousness – it would pair well with any veggie. The kitchen here clearly takes great pride in its produce – I learnt that even the tahini used here is freshly made, with sesame seeds ground over a 7-day period and the paste then made on site.
Also not to miss is the Homemade grilled leek bread (£4). The leeks are boiled and infused into the dough, with the baked bread than grilled in what must be the finest of Greek EVOO. The charcoal finish is utterly moreish.
Another solid veggie is the Flamed tenderstem broccoli, dill and spring onion (£12). With all the freshness of Spring greens, yet the smokey finish thanks to the open-fired cooking, it’s just the right balance of flavours and finish.
Though prices easily tot up at Suzi, it somehow all feels worth it thanks to the general ambience and the experience on offer. Head here for authentic, well balanced, ingredient-led food in a polished, trendy bistro. Great food in a buzzy, atmospheric room: Suzi Tros ticks a lot of boxes.
Suzi Tros, 18 Hillgate Street, Notting Hill, London W8 7SR