Girdy and Birdy’s latest review saw them enjoying a Greek tapas-style feast at Kafeneion to Steki based in Leith.
Birdy: I didn’t know what to expect from Kafeneion to Steki when Girdy suggested we come here, and for once I didn’t sneakily look at the menu beforehand (as is my wont), so it was a nice surprise that it was tapas style! And lots of things on the menu I could eat.
Girdy: I never did get to Ostara in Leith, by the Water of Leith so perhaps that’s why I was keen to check out Kafeneion to Steki which opened in its place. I’d been once before, near opening day and enjoyed it so wanted to drag Birdy back and order more.
Birdy: I found the atmosphere to be fairly relaxed, and I thoroughly enjoyed the nautical theme – especially the net on the wall beside our table. I nabbed us a nice little window enclave, which was lovely.
I’ve since had a chance to read a little more about Kafeneion to Steki online, and have learned that as an authentic Greek ‘taverna’, the owners Joanna and Alexandra (originally from Athens and Crete respectively) want to promote the fact, unlike a traditional restaurant, you can just drop by for drinks!
Girdy: I don’t like stuck up places, by which I mean I’ve been to restaurants at which I’ve felt at risk of being at fault for doing something wrong. I don’t get that vibe from Kafeneion to Steki. I could come here to chill.
As it’s tapas, I followed Girdy’s lead and ordered three things from the menu, and whilst we were waiting, we were given some delicious homemade bread with olive oil, cheese and some of the crunchiest cucumber I can remember eating. Yum!
I didn’t know how to pronounce anything from the menu, but the first thing I chose were the kolokithaki tiganito – beer battered courgettes. This was a really great dish, very tasty – Girdy tried one, too!
Tigania kotopoulo was the next thing I chose, which is stir-fried diced chicken and red peppers, marinated in a delicious mustard and red wine sauce. It came with hand-cut chips, which were fab.
Finally, Girdy told me he was doing the responsible thing and ordering a salad, and I do love a bit of Greek salad myself, so I ordered the horiatiki! It came with lovely fresh tomatoes, red onions, green peppers, olive oil and Greek oregano – and a very generous helping of feta cheese! So good!
Although the salad was brilliant, the feta cheese portion was a little too generous for me, so I shared it with Girdy, who luckily didn’t have any with his own salad.
For my dessert I enjoyed a scoop of authentic Greek homemade ice cream with bits of chocolate through it. Very tasty, could easily have had more!
It’s not stealing a beer battered courgette when it’s a tapas, at least that’s my defense.
However, to try and feed my belly I started with a Maroulosalta which is a lettuce, spring onions, cucumber and dill salad. It was absolutely worth it and might have been the most healthy thing I ate that week.
I moved then on to a tapas selection of fava, mainly to get some anchovies into me and then knowing full well Birdy had ordered the same thing went for the stir-fry chicken of the tigania kotopoulo. There wasn’t enough of the latter to share, says this greedy blogger.
I did very well with pudding and with a generous slice of geek treat in a layered cake.
I have got a few thoughts on Kafeneion to Steki, and they’re not all “How on Earth do you pronounce this?”. One recurring one is that I must try and lure my food-cautious parents here. I think, but I am not sure, that they’ll like it. It’s a risk I’m prepared for them to take!
Another thought is that the photographs on the Kafeneion website do not do the food justice.
The thought that niggles me the most is that I can’t decide whether I like Kafeneion or really like it. I can’t quite place what the owners need to do to step up into that elite category securely. Hospitality is hard.
Birdy: I wasn’t left wanting for anything at Kafeneion to Steki, our server was absolutely lovely, and the food arrived quickly. I’d definitely recommend coming here if you’re looking to experience authentic Greek cuisine.
Girdy: I really like the vibe of the place, and the location is excellent for punters with the Water of Leith just outside (although a challenge for the business owners).
I think the Kafeneion nail the friendly Taverna vibe, pay enough attention for it to feel local and amicable without being clingy or table ghosts that haunt diners.
Kafeneion as a place to eat in Leith
We now have the trams running to Leith, which opens up this historic and proud community in the docks of Edinburgh to tourists and business travellers. I think it’s especially well suited to people staying at the Holiday Inn Express waterfront on Ocean Drive.
It’s worth knowing, perhaps, that Groupon sometimes has deals on hop-off/on bus tours to Britannia, and this Greek restaurant is well-placed if you fancy hopping off for a bit. It does pay to research Leith before a visit. Even Tripadvisor struggles a bit with their ‘Things to Do’ page listing memorials and monuments despite the area absolutely thriving with local activity. Team Edinburgh Reviews would recommend trips to arty venues like Coburg House and Graystone Gallery. Girdy puts the Lind & Lime Gin Distillery high on his list, and the UK’s first vertical distillery will be opening near Ocean Terminal soon. Ish. Probably.
Birdy: I very much enjoyed everything about our meal, although I wasn’t looking forward to going outside afterwards, as it’d decided to rain. Still, I’m so glad I was in Leith instead of anywhere in the vicinity of the Beyonce concert!
Girdy: Leith’s competitive, but I’d go back here without feeling as if I’ve sacrificed a trip to somewhere else. That said, I’m not sure whether Kafeneion will be the very next place to eat at when I next eat in Leith.
I want to be more adventurous with the drink selection as I think that’s a treasure chest on the menu that I’m yet to explore, and perhaps it’s that calorie-cautious cowardness which is niggling in the back of my mind. Perhaps Kafeneion is a place to get a little merry in.