Tucked down Stephenson Street just by the Grand Central Station mirrored ‘eye’ entrance is a little food outlet that has brought authentic Greek kebabs to another level. I’m not sure if you can call it street food as, though it’s a shop on a street, the food cooks inside the building.. however the style, taste, and offerings have everything ‘street food’ about them and this really is a little gem that needs to be discovered.
A Greek family deli business on the same site for many years, these guys have got on the wave of the street food phenomenon and stripped everything back to a simplified kebab menu that has delicious twists and turns on the Greek kebab that you won’t find on other menus.
Not fatty, just tender and juicy with a slight crispiness that makes this an absolute delight.
The space is fresh with exposed brick walls, sky blue tiling and plants dotted around to give that Mediterranean feel. It feels surgically clean, like a laboratory of kebab studies. And they must have been studying as the chefs here are the surgeons of this beautiful food form. Or maybe they didn’t need to study as owner, Laurentis tells me that the style of kebab they create at All Greek is from the city of Thessaloniki in Greece where he hails from, and that all cities and towns in Greece have their own unique and specific way of creating this ancient sandwich of the gods.
They import almost all the ingredients from Greece, and this is something they are passionate about. From the bread to the meat to the cheese, the food we eat feels very authentic and the selections available are new to me, even though I have travelled the world eating this Prince and Pauper food.
Meats on offer are Gyros (chicken or pork), Souvlaki (chicken or pork), Loukaniko (traditional pork sausage) or Pancetta (pork belly). These are served as a Classic Greek with salad, potato fries and mustard & ketchup in warm pita bread, the Sleek Greek without the fries and sauce, and the Big Greek which is the Classic with a double portion of meat.
I go for the Classic Greek with Pancetta, or pork belly to us, and the first thing that surprises me is the use of mustard and ketchup as a sauce. I’m familiar with this addition on a hotdog, but in a kebab? It really works; I’m blown away actually by how well these two humble sauces add that familiar flavour to the beautiful strips of pork belly. Not fatty, just tender and juicy with a slight crispiness that makes this an absolute delight. The other surprise is serving the fries within the kebab rather than a side. I’ve not experienced this before other than drunken friends ordering chips in a naan, but I have to say that this also works really well, and though a potential carb overload in a pita, the soft texture of the fries with the crispy pork belly and fresh salad and sauce, wrapped in lovely warm bread is a true gift to my appetite.
The crispy halloumi is bold in texture with that lovely creamy taste
Also on the menu are the Cheesy Greek with grilled halloumi, salad and yogurt sauce in warm pitta bread and the Veggie Greek with vegetable souvlaki, salad and potato fries in pita too. My dining partner goes for the Cheesy Greek and after sampling his choice, I realise this is a triumph! The crispy halloumi is bold in texture with that lovely creamy taste, and somehow, as a qualified meat eater, I feel like I’m eating chicken which of course I’m not but the texture of the cheese in the kebab sends subconscious confusions to my mind and so I would suggest this is a brilliant vegetarian option, not to mimic meat but to get that full texture within the pita that meat eaters don’t have to think about. The yogurt sauce is luscious and adds that perfect moisture to the mouthful.
These guys aren’t shy of sides and you have four choices of fries being potato (with an option to add feta and oregano), courgette fries (with house-made tzatziki), sweet potato fries and halloumi fries. Dips don’t let you down either with a choice of Meltitzanosalata, which is a smoked aubergine dip, Tirosalata – a spicy feta cheese dip and the Greek yogurt and cucumber Tzatziki dip. We order a Greek Salad to our mix which is hearty and rustic including lovely olives and feta sprinkled on top.
As you sit and devour your food there’s a nice city vibe to the place, people coming and going, frequent take outs and some customers sitting on stools watching the hustle and bustle of the street from the window or there’s a couple of tables on the floor for larger groups. Art on the wall suggests you put your phone away, talk to the person next to you and appreciate the small things. And this we did. Because apart from the person next to you there’s only one thing to focus on here and it’s everything kebabish that I’ve written about above. Laurentis, Grigoris, Larisa and Akim have brought the flavours of Thessaloniki kebabs to Birmingham and I do believe this place is the perfect remedy to any taste or appetite.
Review by Ollie Lloyd for Grapevine Birmingham