In mid-winter, what could be more welcome than a taste of the sunny Mediterranean? Conveniently, Hadley Wood’s popular Greek restaurant Thymari offers just that, and rather stylishly.
Thymari is located in the busy little parade of shops near Hadley Wood station and stands out with some outdoor seating. Inside, the brown and cream décor has a grown-up sleekness punctuated by pretty home accessories. It’s a straightforward rectangular room with mixed seating and a bar running down one side, but the dimmed lights help boost the atmosphere.
My first visit to Thymari was with The Big Choir who took over the restaurant for their Christmas night out in early December. We all had variations of the festive set menu (£29.95 including glass of Prosecco), in my case the meat and fish mezedakia with a starter of mixed dips and dessert and coffee. I hadn’t known what to expect, but the food was difficult to fault and cooking consistently well for such a large group was an impressive feat. New manager Paul and his team had taken over the restaurant in November and were charming and welcoming – and put up with all our singing.
Unlike many Greek restaurants in London the wine list includes some decent examples from Greece (and not just Retsina). I selected a white and a red: a fresh, aromatic Moschofilero from the Peloponnese (£24) and a juicy Agiorgitiko from the same region (£26.50). The well-edited wine list includes is pretty international including some higher-end French classics and kicks off at £17. There are also cocktails from £7.50.
Having had such a good time on my first visit, I recently returned with my family. Even on a Saturday in early January Thymari was busy with people coming in all through the evening. In order to try a broad range of dishes we had the meat and fish tasting menu and the kids’ menu for our daughter. We had a bottle of Malagousia (£27.50), another crisp aromatic Greek white wine. The Kreata Kai Thalassina (minimum two people £28pp) includes a choice of three dips served with hot pitta bread and a mixed grill of kalamari skaras (squid), garides skaras (tiger prawns) chicken and pork souvlaki, sheftalia (Cypriot crepinette of minced pork, onion and aromatic herbs), loucanico (red wine and coriander pork sausages), pastourma (spicy cured beef sausage), paidakia (marinated lamb chops) and halloumi. The set menu also includes chips with oregano and sea salt, Greek salad and grilled vegetables and is good value considering main courses start at about £15.
The substantial kids’ menu for the under 10s has three mains: chargrilled chicken fillet with houmous, crudités, pitta bread and hand-cut chips or rice (our daughter’s choice); pitta bread and halloumi sandwich with hand-cut chips; and orzo pasta with tomato and basil sauce with crudités and houmous. The price is £6.95 and includes ice cream and a drink (and they can keep themselves amused with some colouring – when they’re not nicking our food which was all very child-friendly).
The delicious portokalopita (syrupy orange, filo and yoghurt cake) with vanilla and salted caramel ice cream on the Christmas menu wasn’t available this time, so I went for Thymari’s bougatsa (layers of crisp filo pastry with custard on cinnamon soil with coffee ice cream) £5.95 was an elegant way to finish the meal. I inquired about Samos Muscat (a historic Mediterranean sweet wine and one of Greece’s finest) but they don’t list it, so I settled for a glass of Monbazillac (£7.50) from southwest France which my husband shared with his fruit plate (while also finding space for a cheeky glass of red).
I have to admit to being rather biased towards Greek cuisine as I have close friends in Athens and regularly visit. I love the food at Thymari – from the refined dips and little pies to the confident use of the grill, and those excellent chips with oregano and sea salt. Delicious, authentic, but with interesting little twists. What a great local restaurant.
Tuesday to Friday: 5.30–11.30pm