Atmosphere: Cosy, fresh, friendly and vibrant. This small dining spot in the heart of Notting hill is casual and unpretentious. As you enter you will see a selection of Greek specialities available for purchase so if you want to prepare some dish at home, you get the ingredients right here. There is a tiny dining area just at the entrance, and a bigger one after you pass an arched door with a sign “Life is beautiful” suggesting that Mazi’s owners enjoy what they are doing. Wear jeans or shorts and you will feel fine, there are no rules here in terms of clothing.
Food: Traditional Greek dishes reinterpreted to modern world with aesthetically appealing presentation. Owing to its name, Mazi means “together” in Greek, the food is designed to be shared on one table with your friends, family, partner or anyone you feel comfortable with. Mazi has received lots of attention from the press so far and its innovative approach is celebrated by many distinguished palates, nevertheless my experience was not as overwhelmingly exciting. The food was nice and interesting, but I cannot say I would put into my Top 20 restaurants to dine at in London.
To start with, one should go for one of the “Jars”. We tried the Kolokithopita, broken filo pastry, feta and mint and Beetroot, goat cheese and grape reduction, both original but not appealing to my palate. The ingredients are mixed together and presented to you in a glass jar from which you can serve the dish on a plate.
I much preferred the warm dishes such as the small Tiger Prawns “Saganaki”, Ouzo and smoked Metsovone. The prawns were grilled in the Greek speciality spirit called Ouzo and were intensely fragrant and tender. Another tasty nibble to share was the Feta Tempura with lemon marmalade and caper meringue. The fried cheese slightly creamy, but rather on the drier side, enveloped in a fried batter and served with sweet and sour condiments, perfect to flush with a glass of crisp and aromatic white wine such as the Greek Semillon we had.
My favourite dish was the Lobster with Orzo Pasta, lemon and dill (picture above), which is the most expensive dish on the menu, yet really seemed to be the most balanced and tasty. The orzo pasta in the shape of a large rice grain had a delicately chewy texture combined with the tender lobster and aromatic lemon foam were superb.
From the vegetarian selection I would highly recommend the Spinach Mousaka with Basil and Courgette purée. It was all about the melting cheese and the refreshing power of the basil and courgette purées, when all mixed together tasting like a roller coaster of vegetal flavours. It has some oil in it, but not as much as in traditional moussaka.
Drinks: Mazi has a great purely Greek wine list (with an exception of sparkling wines) with very reasonably priced wines. It is an excellent opportunity for the adventurous wine drinkers to explore the fruits of this ancient wine-producing country. It was in Greece where the philosophers once pondered over breakthrough ideas while sipping on a glass or a jar of wine. We went for the fresh, yet quite deep (short barrel ageing) and easy to drink Biblia Chora Ovilos Barrel, Semillon, 2011. Although on the more pricy side of the list, for £58 per bottle it was much less than at most fancy restaurants in London. Otherwise the wines start at £23. The Semillon was rather different from the oily character and burn-toast Semillons from Bordeaux (blended with Sauvignon Blanc in Pessac Leognan and used for the famous sweet wines from Sauternes) as its Greek version has somehow kept more freshness despite its generally low acidity.
Not in mood for alcohol? Then perhaps the Wild rose, Fresh mint or Greek Mountain pot of tea will warm up your spirit. The Wild Rose in particular looking very appealing and exotic. On the other hand the Greek Mountain tea known also as Shepherd’s tea is very popular in Greece to alleviate colds, respiratory problems, improve digestion, strengthen the immune system, and also it is a great source of anti-oxidants. It is also used as an anti-inflammatory to reduce fever and pain.
Cuisine: Greek modern tapas style.
Visit: March 2013
Price: Medium for London.
Opening hours: Monday – Thursday Lunch: CLOSED | Dinner: 6:30pm – 10:30pm
Friday – Sunday Lunch: 12pm – 3pm | Dinner: 6:30pm – 11pm
Address: 12-14 HILLGATE STREET, LONDON W8 7SR, UK
Contact: Tel: +(44)0 20 7229 3794