A couple of years ago, there were articles in New York and London publications suggesting that following on from Peruvian and Mexican, Greek was about become the celebrated cuisine de jour.
Many were doubtful Greek food could enjoy such a revival, but it appears the predictions may have had some truth to them. And that is being reflected in the rise in the number of noteworthy places to eat Greek across the UAE.
Greek cuisine has always been with us of course – not surprisingly as the country practically created western civilisation. But for decades it has perhaps been one of the most underrated cuisines.
Elia Greek Restaurant at the Majestic Hotel in Bur Dubai has long been a beacon of Greek gastronomic brilliance, and in the cooler months the small terrace out the back is one of the enduring gems of the city’s dining scene. But recently, three branches of Eat Greek Kouzina have opened in Dubai Mall, Mall of the Emirates and The Beach at JBR, with another one about to open in Abu Dhabi at Galleria Mall, joining Acropolis at Le Méridien Village.
There’s also Little Greece, the Greek deli in Al Barsha Mall, Dubai, for those who are looking to buy authentic imported ingredients.
Grecian Grill in Dubai Marina Walk opened this month and the emirate’s JLT (Jumeirah Lake Towers) area has become something of a hub for Greek food, with Labbys The Hellenic House, Public Cafe and, most notably, Mythos Kouzina & Grill all in the area.
The latter is being touted as one of the best new restaurants in the city and has been a big word-of-mouth brunch success over the past 18 months.
Why this has become so popular – and not just in the UAE – is open to some conjecture, but the Mediterranean diet has undoubtedly grown in popularity over the past few decades, having been strongly promoted for health reasons. And Greek food epitomises that diet better than any other.
In fact, the Greek island of Ikaria is famous for its large population of healthy 80- and 90-year-olds, who experience Alzheimer’s and dementia at a rate of one-fifth of people the same age in the United States, largely because the diet there has remained consistently Greek for centuries.
Greek recipes have seen a resurgence off the back of findings like this, which has led to more restaurants and a rise in general interest. The cuisine also lends itself to the now-ubiquitous idea of the sharing concept. As we increasingly move away from the old starter-main-dessert “all for me, thanks” model of dining, the cuisines that are growing in popularity are – perhaps not coincidentally – ones that work well with a more communal style of eating. It is a perfect storm of a cuisine, ticking all the right boxes at the right time.
According to Fay and Alex Economides, the owners of Mythos Kouzina & Grill, well executed authentic Greek cuisine is always appreciated, and right now there is a better representation of the cuisine in the UAE than there was previously.