INO Gastrobar Soho review: a new Greek classic that’s full of pride and passion
Go on a Grecian food and wine adventure in central London
INO Gastrobar, in London’s Soho, has got to be one of the best new places to eat in town. The restaurant from Andreas Labridis, Nikos Roussos and Georgianna Hiliadaki – founders of Marylebone restaurant OPSO and the Athens-based two Michelin-starred restaurant Funky Gourmet – is noisy, hot, full of life and vitality, offering superb and generous small plates designed to share.
In 2014, OPSO was introduced to London’s dining scene as the new approach on modern Greek comfort food, and INO follows this line of thought. Inspired by the chefs’ love of cooking over charcoal as well as the dining culture of classic tavernas across Greece, INO uses carefully sourced ingredients, supplied from the UK as well as directly from Greece.
Snug, rather than cramped, with eclectic music ranging from Destiny’s Child to the Red Hot Chili Peppers, the restaurant is essentially an open kitchen counter, with a jumble of chefs working over traditional Greek grills, jostling with staff mixing up jingling cocktails and pouring Greek wines. The atmosphere is convivial and cosy, although pretty packed. Our seats overlooking the street are perfect for a spot of people-watching, and feel nicely intimate but not too intense.
Derived from the ancient Greek word for wine (ΟΙΝΟΣ), INO showcases the most exciting Greek wines, all available by the glass, along with a selection of barrel-aged cocktails and chilled draft beers from boutique breweries. The barrel-aged whisky sour, with a single, chunky iceberg and delicate slice of lemon swimming in it, gets the evening off to a promising start. The Greek-inspired cocktails – the lemonjito and Athens Spritz – sound like a portal to a sunny Mediterranean island. In fact, all the flavours of the evening will make you nostalgic and hopeful for a Grecian adventure.
Sublime pieces of delicate sea bream sashimi on top of a bowl of kakavia (Greek fisherman’s broth) arrive first, quickly followed by a beautifully whipped, creamy tarama. The tarama comes with a happily plump golden egg yolk squat in the middle. Dunking the hand-stretched pitta bread in the perfectly piquant dip with a smear of soft egg yolk, is one of the highlights of the evening. The decadently sumptuous metsovone croquette, with a blob of sweet strawberry jam cutting through the gooey cheese, is utterly sublime, smile-inducing stuff.
In fact, INO excels at taking the Greek classics and making them feel fresh and innovative and simply better than how you’ve had them before. The lamb chops arrive on a bed of heady rosemary, with a side of fabulous labneh, strained for two days and a Greek “michichurri” chimichurri take; the Iberico pork souvlaki is fatty in the best possible way, salty and fragrant. The octopus taco, with smoked tomato and onion crisps, disappears in minutes.
Even the classic Greek salad, that hardy, ubiquitous Greek perennial, is on another level, with a really special, creamy 12-month barrel-matured feta, sitting proudly atop a summery jumble of perfectly ripe tomatoes, olives and capers.
There is real pride and passion behind the food at INO, which is confident, satisfying and homely. Get yourself a table as soon as you can this summer – you won’t regret it.
INO Gastrobar, 4 Newburgh Street, Carnaby, London, W1F 7RF; inogastrobar.com