The Mad Greek brings the authentic taste of Crete to Leeds
Kostas Tsiknakis said goodbye to Crete, and the family olive farm, to run a restaurant and takeaway in Chapel Allerton. It’s called Mad Greek, and watching the relentless rain one afternoon as it soaked the small outdoor dining area that contains his single olive tree and the grapevine that will never allow him to open his own vineyard, I’d have said it was a fair comment.
After all, who in their right mind would give up the guarantee of months of unbroken sunshine on that gorgeous holiday island for this?
But having sampled the gloriously authentic food on offer at this homely establishment I’m happy Kostas swapped the southern tip of Europe for northern England. This is the most delicious and authentic Greek food I have eaten since... well, since my last holiday on Crete.
Mad Greek is the real deal; the venue is slightly rough around the edges but wonderfully welcoming, with Kostas’ beaming smile and dedication to replicating the food of his homeland providing all the encouragement you should need for an immediate visit.
The menu has all the specialities you may remember from that little taverna you found on your last Greek holiday, and on sunnier days than this you’ll find an enthusiastic bunch of diners sitting outside, tucking in and watching the world go by.
Cruelly denied that option, we sheltered in the small indoor dining area and savoured hearty, flavoursome Greek dishes.
We began in classic style with stuffed vine leaves (£2.90) packed with tender, herby rice, and spinach and feta cheese pie (£3.20) which had beautifully light pastry and a generous filling.
For mains there was no question for me, it had to be the classic Gyros special pork (£7.50). OK, so at first glance we are in the same territory as the dreaded beer-fuelled late night kebab, with tightly packed meat rotating on a spit, but banish all thought of the nasty fatty monstrosities that always bring regrets the morning after.
This is the finest pork, roasted to a peak of slightly charred deliciousness and freshly carved, chewy but still moist and bursting with savoury flavour. Served with excellent pitta bread, tzatziki, fresh tomato, onion and a generous portion of kicking chilli sauce, you don’t need a belly full of ale to find it irresistible.
Spicy lamb chops, succulent and beautifully char-grilled, were another hit and it just so happened that Kostas had finished cooking a tray of moussaka (£7.90) so it seemed churlish to refuse a portion. Consisting of slow cooked aubergine with minced lamb, seasoned with herbs and topped with melted cheese, this was much lighter than previous versions I have tried and all the better for it.
Mad Greek opens from 12 noon from 12.30am every day, with deliveries from 5pm to 11pm. It’s cheerful, superb value and you’d have to be be mad not to try it.
Mad Greek, 14 Stainbeck Lane, Leeds, LS7 3QY
Tel: 0113 269 2288