- The Dish: Savoury and sweet stuffed homemade pitta buns
- The Place: Pittabun, 4 Newburgh Street, W1F 7RF
- The Chefs: Georgianna Chiliadaki and Nikos Roussos
What? Pittabun is the third venture from Greek chefs Georgianna Chiliadaki and Nikos Roussos and their UK partner Andreas Labridis, who are behind two-Michelin-starred Athens restaurant Funky Gourmet and Marylebone’s contemporary Greek comfort foodspot Opso.
“The idea behind the street food version is to show the depth of Greek cuisine. We have a two-Michelin-star restaurant that offers avant-garde cuisine and the street food concept is on the other side,” Labridis tells Food Spark, adding that there is some crossover
“The way that we cook the meats is the sous vide technique used a lot in our fine dining restaurant in Athens. The sauces we are going to be making, like a garlic and walnut paste, is a recipe of the fine dining establishment that we make with the Thermomix.”
The challenge has been adapting the techniques to account for a much higher volume at Pittabun. For example, in the restaurant they need 3kg of pork belly for about 30 covers, while in Pittabun they expect to be using 40kg a day.
The new concept will offer savoury and sweet stuffed homemade pitta buns sourced directly from Greece, fresh salads, chips, and sides like crumbled feta, tzatziki and tartar sauce. All meats are slow-cooked for 10 to 15 hours, then finished off on the robata grill or left to caramelise in a custom-made rotisserie.
Where? In the heart of Soho, this casual Greek street food experience includes a 40-cover restaurant and takeout.
Authenticity is core to the operation. Labridis checked in two 20kg suitcases full of pitta bread from London when he went over to Greece to develop the menu with his chef partners, but they found it wasn’t up to standard. Instead, they have found a supplier to custom make the pitta bread over in Greece, where the olive oil, feta and yoghurt are also sourced.
There are six savoury pitta buns, including lamb, chicken, short ribs and a vegetarian option, as well as two dessert-style buns.
Menu items include charcoaled slow-cooked pork neck, tzatziki spread, tomatoes and fresh herbs,and panko-crusted fried cod fillet, walnut and garlic spread with beetroot ketchup.
But the lamb is Labridis’ personal favourite. “It’s got traditional Greek flavours but it’s been given a twist so it’s lamb with roast potatoes and feta. It’s the traditional equivalent to the Sunday roast for a Greek family, but we have made it into a street food version,” he comments.
“The sweet buns are equally very interesting. We take a bun, deep-fry it and then when it’s hot we dip it in sugar and cinnamon, cut it in half and fill with ice cream, and top it with sour cherries, nuts and honey. It works really nicely.”
Why? While street food’s popularity is booming, Labridis believes that Greek food hasn’t captured the imagination of people in the UK as much as it could (although Cypriot cuisine is also making a push into the capital, as Food Spark has previously reported).
“I think overall there was a boom in Greek cuisine back in the 70s and 80s, and quite a few places opened up, but then it seemed to come to a stall. Only a few years ago did you see new Greek restaurants opening serving modern food, and the same story follows through with street food,” he says.
“Everyone knows the Greek street food souvlaki when it was brought to the UK, but it didn’t evolve, it stayed stationary. I just think it’s the new ideas that took a while to generate. I think now we hope we will see a boom in the Greek street food cuisine, just like we had with Peruvian and sushi.”
A trial of the pitta buns back in May at Opso saw them fly out the door. Punters requested for them to be put on the menu, according to Labridis, who says the popularity may be down to the desire for comfort food that is still healthy.
“It’s something people can have throughout the day, during lunch, after work, as a quick bite or to sit down with friends and grab a beer,” he explains.“It’s a concept that should go down well as it applies to quite a big audience.”
And the eight pittas are only the start. “We have been talking about adding a guest of the month, which could be an international taste of pitta bread or the equivalent to a Mexican taco,” says Labridis.