God I adore Xmas. The cherubic singing of carols, hot mince pies straight from the oven, good cheer to all and a smile in the heart of every true Englishman. False. These are of course lies. I really enjoy the excellent TV, room temperature mince pies and mandatory vacation days. Children ruin Christmas for everyone and Christmas music triggers a violent reaction for which no court in the land (land = Honduras) would convict me. Christmas music is only slightly preferable to having a vengeful Frenchman cheesegrate my nutbag. I’ve evolved from blaming Christmas music itself rather the insufferable villains who insist on playing it. The only good piece of Xmas music used to (inexplicably) be the one by The Pogues, but even that has been tainted by over-playing. Screw you Xmas music. Screw you.
Which is why going to Vine Leaves Taverna (http://www.vineleavestaverna.co.uk/) was such a breath of fresh air. Christmas lights and cards aside, you wouldn’t have known it was late December. In Vine Leaves Taverna you are transported not to a sterile Xmas wonderland, but to somewhere in Greece presumably where the owner comes from. Traditional/hilarious Greek ballads piped through the sound system meaning I could breath a sigh of relief. After a brief natter with the friendly chief, who clearly loves his food, myself and Mrs Del Monte over-ordered a platter of meze. It was all excellent and I’ll let the pictures do the talking
But special mention must be made of the Saganaki. Not only was it the target of the Enola Gay but also deep fried Haloumi coated with breadcrumbs, coriander and chilli. This stuff is the real deal. Imagine garlic bread, but instead of bread it’s cheese. If for no other reason we should bail out Greece as often as those tax-dodging, early retirees want. Stuff democracy, the Olympics and the cotton gin. Saganaki is the real Greek gift to the world.
£27.35 for two people with only one tall, cool Mythos beer. I shall go again. In fact, I shall break in to get me some more of that there Saganaki.
I spent a week in Santorini eating excellent Greek food. You have to go a long way to beat fresh fish grilled on the beach. And proper Greek salad with a slab of Feta plonked on top. No silly little cubes of white gold from the real Greeks. And excellent white wine.
Vine Leaves Taverna
71 Uxbridge Road
Tel: 020 8749 0325