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Greece is the word… for colourful cuisine

Brother Marcus, which has taken over the site of The Elk In The Woods in Camden Passage, is an intriguing example of a more modern riff on traditional Greek cuisine

12 July, 2018 — By Tom Moggach

Chargrilled aubergine, mint, chilli, lemon zest tahini and pomegranate

TOURISTS are flocking to Greece in record numbers – with many enticed by the food and wine. A staggering 32 million will visit the country in 2018, which equates to three tourists for every Greek citizen.

Here in London, Greek wines are now fashionable, the heatwave hit halloumi supplies and modern Greek restaurants, led by The Real Greek chain, are exploding the tired clichés of kleftiko and baklava.

Brother Marcus, a new restaurant in Islington, is an intriguing example of a more modern riff on traditional Greek cuisine. The menu mingles classic Greek ingredients with a whiff of the Middle East – freekeh salad with sumac dressing, for example, or chargrilled aubergine with chilli, tahini and pomegranate.

Hipster ingredients such as fried cauliflower and buttermilk spiced chicken – now ubiquitous in the capital and on Instagram – are also given a nod.

This is the second branch of Brother Marcus. The first, down in Balham, majors in brunch and cocktails. The young owners have taken over the site of The Elk In The Woods in Camden Passage.

Working on a minuscule budget, they have sensibly left the décor much the same. The bar is remarkable – a well-worn slab of smooth, curvy polished concrete which I stroked with my hands. Planks of rustic wood cover the walls and create booths of banquette seating. There are flashes of bare brick and ancient wallpaper; climbing plants thread through a lattice of steel mesh.

We came for dinner, which is a new angle for Brother Marcus. Their brunch menu is still on offer during the day. The best seats are up by the window, where you can watch the locals drift home along Camden Passage.

The evening menu is divided in Snack, Earth, Sea, Land and Heaven – aka, puddings.

Small plates are the order of the day. The dazzling Greek manager recommended two or three each and a bottle of native red – a decent blend of two grapes from Santorini.

There’s a lot to love. Fresh Lagana bread, traditionally baked for Easter, is glazed with honey and dipped in posh olive oil and crushed spiced hazelnuts.

A dish of marinated sardines was stunning on the eye: sparkling fillets served against a vivid red of pulped fresh tomato and slices of green Turkish pepper.

Cubes of sticky pork belly, crisp crackling intact, are drizzled with a sweet glaze of Metaxa, cinnamon and date syrup, with a crumble of walnuts and yoghurty dip.

To finish, we shared honey-soaked fritters and an almond panna cotta, set a touch hard.

The cooking here is imaginative and colourful. I’m keen to try their famous brunches, such as sweet potato, courgette and feta fritters with a poached egg, avocado and turmeric yoghurt.

Watch out for the prices – small plates add up. Vegetable-based dishes are reasonable, priced £6-7, but two small and exquisite lamb chops cost £14.50.

Brother Marcus is a million miles from a traditional Greek taverna – but a perfect fit for N1.

Brother Marcus
37-39 Camden Passage, N1
020 7226 3535
www.brothermarcus.co.uk

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