OX: Bringing a modern twist to the Greek grill

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Behind the Hilton, in one of the city's strongest restaurant squares, OX by Ioannis Morakis, Giorgos Melissaris, Panos Politis and Thomas Grubac opened a while ago.

With the menu inspired by the award-winning chef Michalis Nourloglou and the head of the kitchen by Haris Frago, his partner of four years (see Brunello), this new meat restaurant emphasises the spits and grills we love, but also all those side dishes that elevate them by presenting somewhat different from what we are used to.

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Let's take the things from the beginning.

The decoration of the space is modern and simple (ADD Architects). Black and earthy colours take centre stage, warm lights create a welcoming atmosphere, while the arrangements of old favourite Greek songs that musically clothe the evenings at OX set a nostalgic and, at the same time, youthful tone.

The first reason for all this is, of course, the open kitchen with the fires and the wood-burning oven stealing the impressions, like a mini improvisational theatre performance presented every night by the well-coordinated team of cooks.

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The list is simple and comprehensive, including everything we enjoy as children in a classic Greek grill. In practice, of course, some things are a little (or a lot) different, which is remarkable in this case.

We tried a lot of different dishes, from which the fresh and mild garlic tzatziki made with organic sheep's yogurt and fermented cucumber and the fresh, fragrant parsley salad definitely stood out from the first bite.

In both cases, a necessary condition is the handmade Rhodes pies, which, although they are delicious on their own, go perfectly with all the spreads in the menu.

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Also, from the first, the wonderfully congealed butter pasta with noodles and fresh and burnt mizithra, which is the definition of comfort food, stands out by far.

So is the pie of the day, a full traditional spinach pie with feta that, like all the pie options that change daily, is made by the excellent chef Maro Diakatou and baked in the wood-fired oven.

Soon it was the turn of the pan where pasha kefte goes, i.e. meatballs made of minced lamb and beef which are lightly fried in butter, then baked in the oven and served with grated pastourma.

Frygadelli is also made in the pan in a completely unconventional version: tender liver, cooked as it should be, and on top of it grated bread fried in bolia. Practically, it doesn't resemble anything of its traditional self, but that doesn't stop it from being a very tasty dish.

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We tried all the spits, and the truth is that it was difficult to choose the best one since each one has its own charm.

The kokoretsi is exemplary, dry and crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside, with all the deliciousness of the classic version.

In the pork kontosouvli, pickled onion, boukovo and sumac raise the taste to another level, while the chicken kontosouvli is marinated with plenty of spices, resulting in nice aromas reminiscent of the East.

Of the sweets, the ekmet with pistachio praline, velvety white cream and syrupy bun is certainly the best; however, the chocolate mousse with the salted caramel was an unforgettable combination.

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In addition to the kitchen, the cellar, which contains more than 100 wine labels. The list curated by Yiannis Makris is fully geared towards the dishes on the menu and contains mostly Greek wines and some fine labels from international vineyards.

info: Hatzigianni Mexi 9, Ilisia, tel: 210 7107 070

Price: 40-45 euros without wine

Zoi Papafotiou is a columnist for Olive Magazine.

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