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  • Writer's pictureSharon Wilson

From Kafeneion to STEKIA corner of Crete

Anchovies, Feta Cheese in filo pastry

“When we saw the restaurant, next to the Water of Leith, on a corner spot we knew it was the one for us.”

This is what Ioanna (from Athens), one of the owners of this intriguingly named, Greek restaurant on Coburg Street tells me. The site previously hosted the popular Ostara but is now a Greek café/taverna. Ioanna and Alexandra (from Crete) want to bring the spirit of a typical Greek meeting and eating place to the neighbourhood of Leith.

Kafeneion refers to one of those cafes you may have seen on holiday, with groups of men drinking brewed black coffee and rolling backgammon dice. STEKI simply means hangout.

The idea is that you drop into this café-come-Taverna for a coffee, a glass of wine or a meal. Pavement tables encourage a casual stop.

I like that Ioanna and Alexandra appreciate the qualities of the building and they have made it homely with adornments such as fish nets and driftwood.

The menu follows the current trend, and Greek tradition, for small plates (Mezedakia) and is a showcase for Cretan-influenced cuisine. An exclusively Greek wine list begs for further investigation, watch this space.

Fava, Artichokes, Octopus

One time I visited solo and enjoyed a plate of mouth-puckering Anchovies marinated in garlic, chilli and parsley and Feta Cheese fried in pastry, drenched in honey, and sprinkled with sesame seeds. Two distinct plates, the first sour and hot, the second salty and sweet. I drank a couple of glasses of house white. The wine list is categorised by flavour profiles such as fruity, light, rich.

My next dinner at Kefaneion is with a friend and I get to taste more. A surprise hit is the peasant dish of ‘Fava’, crusted yellow split peas topped with silver anchovies and bright green spring onions. The dip has a comforting creamy texture. Eleonora loves the octopus tentacle which is roasted and sweet. We also share Orange Cake made with polenta and I get a flashback of citrus-heavy boughs in the blistering Cypriot sun.

There are daily specials too and I anticipate savouring some meaty slow-cooked stews complemented by red wine this autumn.

Meantime, the menu is perfect for sunny days and sharing as well as for a pit stop for coffee or wine.

Kafeneion to STEKI - 52 Coburg Street, Leith, EH6 6HJ – 0131 348 2191.

Open Tuesday & Wednesday from 5 PM to 10 PM, Thursday from noon until 10 PM, Friday and Saturday from noon until 11 PM, and Sunday from noon until 5 PM. Closed Monday.

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