In amongst the buzzing pubs and the fabric shops of Wentworth Road, a new Greek restaurant is causing a stir. The Hungry Donkey has barely been open a month but on the Friday we visited, by 8pm the tables were full with punters enjoying classic Greek dips, warm pitta breads and the range of meat dishes that the Greeks do so well.
The restaurant is bright and modern, with floor to ceiling windows, a far cry from the sweet but chintzy Greek taverns, which we see too often in London. The place looks clean, slick and modern without too many ancient Greek relics. The light wooden chairs and tables sit beneath huge canopy lighting and a smart open plan kitchen hides at the back. On the warm early summer evening we visited, the doors on one side of the restaurant were open, allowing a semi-al fresco dining experience without the risk of showers.
We started with some delicious freshly baked pitta breads with a light and fresh Tzatziki and a creamy Htipiti feta dip. We also couldn’t resist the spanakopita, the popular Greek pastry of spinach and feta cheese encased in a coil of flaky pastry. Cut in to quarters, my friend and I divided the crisp and filling starter before we moved on to the mains.
By this point we were on our second glass of wine. I enjoyed the Greek rose, which was light and fruity, and my friend opted for a glass of white. Greek wine has come a long way and is finally making a name for itself, taking shelf space beside the Italian and Spanish wines that are perhaps better known.
The offering for the main course is varied with choices between souvlaki skewers, souvlaki pittas, classic dishes such as Moussaka and big plates filled with meats and salads. All the foods that the Greeks are famed for, The Hungry Donkey has honed and now serves up in abundance. We both went for the lamb souvlaki pitta, as lamb is a meat that the Greeks know so well. The Greeks can do things with lamb like no other nation and it was perfectly matched here with the soft, warm pitta bread it was encased in, the creamy yoghurt sauce and the sharp red onions. We had a Greek salad on the side, which was a perfect combo of salty feta, plump tomatoes, black olives and cucumber.
The dessert list looked tempting but after enjoying an indulgent, carb-heavy starter and main, sadly we couldn’t fit it in. I did however, eye up the Manouri cheesecake for my next visit.
The Hungry Donkey offers a vibrant new dining experience in the Aldgate area, with it’s bright modern restaurant and exciting, varied menu, it is bringing the best of fresh Greek cuisine to East London.