In my opinion good restaurants can be divided into categories – ridiculously fancy, special occasion and casual dining. Ridiculously fancy is usually Michelin star and, most definitely, expensive. It is my aspire to list, one day I will visit The Kitchin and Martin Wishart and it had better be outstanding! Special occasion covers places that are pricey thus birthday/anniversary events but sometimes you treat yourself to a wee pre-theatre. Then there is casual dining – places that you don’t have to dress up for, that you can nip into on a Monday night but that you know serve tasty food at reasonable prices. Yiamas restaurant on Bath street falls into the latter category with its lovingly made mix of chargrill & dips.
Yiamas sits just off Buchanan Street so regularly becomes my choice for lunch whilst shopping with friends. You’ll have got it from the title but it’s Greek, with an actual Greek family running it & a real traditional feel to it. I told a friend who’s originally from Greece about this place last year and he said that it is ‘exactly how a Greek taverna should be’. The first time that I went in was because they have a two course lunch menu for £6.95 so I thought I’d try it out but since then I’ve heard several people rave about the takeaway Gyros (£3.50).
Last week when three of us needed a centrally located catch-up, we chose Yiamas for lunch. The coke in here comes in a glass with no accompanying can or bottle but the flavour reminds me of running out to the bakers/sweetie van that went street to street as a child for a bottle of coke – some people are die hard coca-cola fans but it doesn’t bother me & I love the nostalgia.
Once I remembered that I’m not ten anymore our starters arrived. We had hoummus & tzatsiki with pitta but our hunger led to me forgetting to take photos – I knew I should have eaten breakfast. The hoummus was well made and the tzatsiki creamy & fresh. The pitta comes with dried oregano over it, which gives it a wonderful taste. Nevertheless I do miss seeing halloumi on the menu because it is a favourite of mine & I’d love a Glasgow restaurant to do something a bit inventive with it.
I decided to treat myself to the moussaka because I’ve had it in here before & my mouth was watering just thinking about it. It arrived with homemade chips (you can swap the chips for rice) and salad & was as good as I remembered it. Thick layers of mince, potato, aubergine and bechamel…one of my ultimate comfort foods.
The Sougukakia (meatballs with onion, garlic, cumin & tomato salsa) was equally traditional and arrived with the oregano homemade chips.
The third main, chosen from the a la carte menu, was beef souvlaki. It came with a choice of rice or chips and salad. The dip that arrived with it was a tasty accompaniment to this rustic hearty dish. The only thing that could have made it better in my opinion is some flavouring through the rice – herbs, stock or spices would have livened it up a bit.
We didn’t have desserts – it was lunch after all – but it is promising that there is not a dessert menu online because they change them regularly and they are all made in house.
I’m also a sucker for an open kitchen and love watching the chefs in Yiamas prepare my food. For me it adds to the cosiness of the place because the division between you and the kitchen is broken down. I have always sat downstairs so I can watch the kitchen but they have an equally spacious upstairs that looks ideal for a large party. Now thoughts are spilling through my head of a large party in Yiamas having a midweek meze (surely I could convince them to do a meze?) – I might need to get on the phone to start arranging.
I like Yiamas and find myself veering in their direction regularly for my Greek food intake. It’s not fancy or showy but traditional food, healthy portion sizes and all comes with friendly service.
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