The Greek dish called Kleftiko – basically lamb shoulder or shank braised in white wine, stock and herbs – is one of my favourite creations of all time. It originated with bandidos who cooked it under the ground so no one would know their whereabouts as they prepared dinner while leading a life of crime in the Greek countryside.
For a long time, I was convinced that the best version of this dish was the one at Lemonia: a wondrous Greek restaurant near my mother’s Primrose Hill home in London, England.
However, on my most recent trip to visit her earlier this year, I found a rendition that surpassed even this delectable creation. Believe it or not, the ultimate Kleftiko (admittedly I haven’t sleuthed it yet in North America) is to be had at Retsina, a family-run Greek eatery in the same vicinity as Lemonia and one I discovered when it was a finalist on Gordon Ramsay’s TV search for top neighbourhood dining spots.
I highly recommend lunch or dinner at Retsina. Although I will always order the huge and luscious Kelftiko, their salads are superb as are the deep-fried Calamari. Don’t bother with the mundane desserts.
Still in the U.K., I always go to Brighton where my brother Jonny lives.
On a tip from a foodie friend, I checked out the amazing Mock Turtle Cafe, hidden in a back alley near the ocean boardwalk, where they make delicious Rock Cakes, divine doughnuts and excellent scones.
Nearby, Terre a Terre, where I’ve been meaning to eat for a couple of years but circumstances have got in the way, looks wonderfully welcoming and has a top-rated, eclectic meatless menu (the Observer has named it Vegetarian Restaurant of the Year more than once) that made me salivate. Watch this space for news on this after my next U.K. trip later this year.