By Jonathan Hatchman, Food Editor, @TLE_Food
Over the past couple of years, there’s been a rapid growth in focus on sharing within some of London’s best restaurants. Personally, I have absolutely no qualms against this ‘Social Food’ concept, as OPSO put it. However, most Londoners (and most of my friends) are a bit selfish when it comes to Food and they’re not so keen on the concept of sharing. Unfortunately, this is a bit of a disadvantage for restaurants such as OPSO – a ‘Modern Greek’ restaurant just steps away from Marylebone High Street, literally meaning ‘a delectable morsel of food’.
Unfortunately, since opening last year OPSO hasn’t enjoyed an overwhelming response from some of the city’s most revered food writers – however the food during our recent lunch visit is actually very good. Inside the 42-cover upstairs café/restaurant, a bar that trails into the modern dining space and first greets diners, adorned with honey-coloured wood. Meanwhile a central table with stalls dispersed around is the central focus, set before a white tiled wall that’s embellished with a ‘Social Food’ mural. Although rather vacant during the early-week lunch service, it’s still pretty loud with intrusive conversations from the other side of the space flooding into our own, but the food makes up for all of that.
The food on offer is not quite what you’d expect from a Greek restaurant with a more traditional nature, instead the focus is on ‘Greek Tapas’. This features a range of small sharing dishes, salads, breads and produce from The Larder, which is downstairs – a wall of glass refrigerators filled with select Greek products and Wines. The barrel-aged Feta (£5) from the Larder is a real standout dish, dressed in extra virgin olive oil and peppered with a smattering of subtle spices, accompanied by a dish of home-baked Sourdough cubes for dipping and spreading. Elsewhere, a roasted beet and skordalya salad (£6) is also very good. The overwhelming amount of green beans in comparison to a small amount of beetroot would’ve been better had it been reversed, but the mild garlic spread is very pleasant. Next, the slow cooked lamb shank (£24, to share) is cooked to perfection, although it’s the orzo that’s the real highlight, while a takeaway-style box is filled with OPSO’s take on Pastitsio (£9) – both rich and incredibly moreish. Thick noodles are topped with tomato and béchamel sauce while shredded beef cheek replaces the more traditional lamb.
To finish, my friend’s dessert is somewhat disappointing – although the chocolate molasses cookie used for the ‘Moustokoulouro sandwich’ (£8) is divine, it’s topped with huge flakes of sea salt: this adds a welcome bitterness to the sickly sweet concoction of chocolate and butterscotch, yet carries a lasting aftertaste. Thankfully, curiosity gets the best of me and I order white chocolate soup (£5). This dish sounds far too bewildering to resist. Served in a miniature glass bottle, the dessert comprises three layers – cool, melted white chocolate that’s spiked with vanilla syrup, roasted hazelnuts and coarse raspberry sorbet. On the first mouthful the taste is unappealing, but once you delve into the crunchy hazelnut and sharp raspberry layer, the result is actually quite remarkable, with a fusion of complimentary flavours. Albeit having suffered from some preliminary teething problems, the food and overall experience at OPSO is, in fact, very pleasing way to spend a couple of hours away from the Autumn rain.
OPSO can be found at 10 Paddington Street, Marylebone, London, W1U 5QL.