Eat this: Ampéli, an Eastern Mediterranean escape

The modern Greek concept restaurant is to open later this month.

3 January 2020
brunchMediterraneanmiddle easternrestaurant openingsharing plates
  • The Gist: Trendy Athenian, wine-focused philosophies
  • The Chef: Oren Goldfeld
  • Location: 18 Charlotte St, Fitzrovia, London W1T 2LZ
  • Food in 5 words: Modernised family recipes shared aplenty
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How did we get here?

Having missed the food and wine of her Greek homeland during her 15 years in London, first-time restaurateur Jenny Pagoni has founded an Eastern Mediterranean-focused haven in West London. Ampéli (which means ‘vineyard’ in Greek) will champion the growing craft wine movement from Greece and explore a number of cuisines and ingredients from the wider region and the Middle East (including Turkey, Morocco, Tunisia and Israel).

The kitchen will be headed by Oren Goldfeld, who will draw from his time cooking at Nopi, Brother Marcus and Neil Rankin. He also has extensive experience cooking in the Middle East, particularly at Tel Aviv’s acclaimed Toto restaurant.

Oren has worked closely with Pagoniy to bring plates inspired by the Eastern Mediterranean coastline and her favourite family recipes to London, with Ampéli serving lunch, dinner and weekend brunch accompanied by a list of indigenous wines from across the Greek mainland and its islands.

What’s different about it?

“Ampéli will be a place for people to gather and drink something new they might never have tasted and share dishes that reflect the diversity of the Eastern Mediterranean,” said Pagoni of her impending debut restaurant.

Broken into four main sections (plus dessert), diners are encouraged to “share the course, not the plate” in this social celebration and modernisation of traditional family recipes.

The Greek staple saganaki, for instance, is elevated with the use of barrel-aged feta and cherry tomato jam, while the spiced potato burik with runny egg yolk, brown shrimp and harissa mayo is a an example of a contemporary take on Turkish.

The trip round the Med continues with dishes such as the braised short ribs with date molasses, dried Moroccan peppers and quince, and the onglet shish with charred broccoli, potatoes a la plancha and caramelised yoghurt.

Here at Food Spark, we’ve noticed a slow but significant rise in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern ingredients and techniques, both in foodservice and in retail. The varied regions appeared in a number of 2020 flavour forecasts for the industry.

August’s Market Growth Monitor from CGA and AlixPartners revealed that, in the last five years, the number of Turkish and other Middle Eastern restaurants has increased by more than 60% in the UK to a combined 668.

You’ve got to try

Jewish chopped chicken liver, caper leaves and cornichons. Growing interest in nose-to-tail eating in the UK is leading to a spike in offal on menus, with Ampéli going for a traditional Middle Eastern sharing rendition.

Sparkie also likes

Loukoumades (deep-fried mini Greek doughnuts) with mountain tea syrup, poppy seed custard.

Go if…

You want to start your summer holiday a little early.

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