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Friday 29 September 2017

Estiatorio Milos - Exquisite Greek Fine-Dining on No.1 Regent Street London

Name: Estiatorio Milos

Where: 1 Regent Street, St James, London SW1Y 4NR, http://milos.ca/

Cost: A 3-course meal at Estiatorio Milos will cost around £75 per person not including drinks or service charge. Dishes from the fish and seafood counter are priced per kilo for example lobster at £85/kg. Main courses are priced from £32 to £50 per person, with side dishes priced at £6. 

There is a weekday lunch-time menu of 3 courses for £29 (midday to 3pm). For solo diners, there is the "One and Only" priced at £79 for a tasting selection of all the Milos specials, thought this was not displayed on the menu. There is also a pre- and post- theatre menu of 3 courses for £49 available Monday-Saturday from 5.30pm-7pm and 10pm-11pm.

About: Estiatorio Milos is decked out like something out of Miami Vice - all white marble, white tablecloths, the chairs featuring the softest, cream coloured leather seats, clearly no expense has been spared in the construction of this stunning London restaurant taking up two floors on swanky no.1 Regent Street.

With branches in North America and Europe, Estiatorio Milos first opened its doors 40 years ago in Montreal, Canada followed by the New York restaurant 20 years later. There are also branches in Las Vegas, Miami, Athens and now London.

Unsurprisingly, the diners in the London restaurant are a well-heeled international crowd, many of whom visiting from Canada and the USA where Estiatorio Milos has a strong following.

The visual centre-piece of the restaurant, apart from the cool cocktail bar, is the huge, raw fish and seafood counter. Featuring local and diver-caught Greek oysters, tuna, salmon and a vast selection of raw fish flown in from Greece daily, it is surely one of the most impressive in London. 

Diners make their choice of fish and seafood, these are weighed there and then and cooked as requested.

The menu is 90% fish and seafood, and includes some classic Greek dishes, executed with great finesse and artistry and using excellent Greek produce. Beyond the fish and seafood, noteworthy on our visit were the tomatoes – these are also flown in from Greece daily, and were so sweet and flavoursome as only Greek tomatoes can be.

Estiatorio is the Greek word for a restaurant that is more upmarket than a family-run taverna.

What We Ate: After some freshly baked bread with Greek extra-virgin olive oil and fresh oregano, we kicked off with the simple but stunning-looking Milos Special, made from lightly battered, fried slices of courgette and aubergine, served with tzatziki (cre and Kafalograviera cheese (£29). Light, crunchy and delicious, this was a centre-piece dish.

The Greek Ceviche (£32) had seabass and a selection of  Mediterranean flavours beautifully presented - wild herbs, Kastoria white beans, tomato, cucumber, red chillies and feta cheese. This was zingy, refreshing and a great start to our dinner.

Next up was the langoustine sashimi from the Raw Bar - with yuzu kosho (a Japanese condiment made with yuzu rind, green chillies and salt), olive oil, lemon juice and red amaranth, this was fresh and delicately flavoured with a hint of chilli from the yuzu kosho.

The raw oysters were from Lindisfarne, they were rich, creamy and ultra-fresh.

Mediterranean cuttlefish came simply grilled, dressed with aromatic olive oil, micro basil and coriander, and served with blank ink risotto (£29).

Our Greek salad (£18) came dressed traditionally - just in Greek olive oil and sea salt. A staple Greek salad, combining feta cheese with the sweetest Greek tomatoes, cucumber, raw onion and parsley, this was without a doubt, the best Greek Salad I have eaten. 

The Carabinieros (£149 per kg) were huge Spanish red prawns, served with vintage sherry. The way to enjoy these is to pour the sherry into the head of the prawns and suck their content, which we did with gusto. The prawns were so creamy and delicious, I still think about them to this day!

For our main course we shared a grilled red snapper, and a platter of griddled vegetables and cheese. This was a superbly meaty fish, served simply with lemon, parsley and capers, the best way to appreciate its flavour and freshness. 

The caramelisation on the vegetables left a wonderful charred flavour, this was a great accompaniment to the fish.

For dessert, we shared a deliciously creamy Greek yoghurt, served with thyme-honey from Kythira and black cherries (£15), and some seasonal fresh fruit including blackcherries, the sweetest chilled black grapes, melon and peach. This was a sublime end to our dinner.

What We Drank: The wine menu has a strong focus on Greek wines, but has also a wide range of French, American and international wines. There is a good selection of wines by the glass. 

The entry level white is a Tinaktorogos, Brintziki, Ilias 2014 at £45 while the entry level red is an Agiorgitiko Driopi from Nemea 2013, priced at £39. Prices head north steeply, with the majority costing three figures, but sommelier Alexandros was luckily on hand to advise. 

We started with a couple of the special martinis on the menu. The cucumber martini (£17) was gin-based, with fresh cucumber and lemon juice. The Ginger Martini (£17) was vodka-based, with ginger, honey and lemon juice. They were both well made, strong and very refreshing.

With our meal, we shared a bottle of Museum Collection 2014 (£85), Gerovassiliou, Epanomi, a blend of 5 varieties made especially for Milos in London with a total production of 2,500 per year. It is a blend of 2 Greek (Malagousia, Assyrtiko) and 3 French (Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Viognier) varietals. The winery is at 450 metres altitude, near Mount Olympus, and has cooling winds from the sea, with steeply sloping vineyards. An elegant, well made wine, this was rich in tropical and stone fruit flavours - pineapple, mango, apricot, nectarine, peach and mineral. Complex and with a long finish, this was superb with our selection of fish and seafood dishes.

As a digestif, we had a glass of Mastika (a very traditional Greed drink, they even flavour ice cream with it), made from sap of the tree from which chewing gum was first made - herbaceous and gently aniseed flavoured, this was a great digestif.

Likes: The Milos Special is a wonder to behold, the Lindisfarn oysters were magnificent, as was the grilled snapper. The tomatoes, the fresh fruit were so sweet and delicious. Excellent, friendly and well informed service-staff.

Dislikes: Prices quoted by kilo, at the fish and seafood counter, are frighteningly expensive (£99/kg for white fish); perhaps, prices should be quoted by 100g? The restaurant should have tasting menus available for groups of 2 or more.

Verdict: For some of the most exquisite Greek food in London and North America, there is a great deal to like about Estiatorio Milos. The Greek produce and wine are of outstanding quality. Highly recommended but be ready to crack open that wallet!  

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