With Summer Nearly Over

Sumi Sastri recommends going Greek at Kalamari

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Long sunny days are coming to a close and anyone who wants to catch the last of summer in Hammersmith, a Greek cafe on the border of Hammersmith and Chiswick - Kalamari is just the place to do it.

The window boxes are still bursting with colourful petunias the windows open to the street, the last of the summer rays filter in to this little cafe with wonderful canvasses of Greek beaches and markets. Addie, the chef, originally from Kosovo owns and manages the friendly cafe and brings to life all that is wonderful about Greek cuisine - the fresh herbs, light fresh olive oil, char-grilled seafood, fresh chunky vegetables just cut and full of flavour.

More importantly, as a family cafe, you are welcomed with warmth and hospitality of the family which makes the whole dining experience more cosy as you see Eddy in the kitchen busy while the family takes the orders.

We started with a mixed meze - a lightly grilled haloumi cheese, humous freshly made, as was the tzaziki, tabouli with fresh parley and lime finely chopped, fasulia a Greek potato salad, taramosalata with warm pitta bread and a smokey aubergine dip the melinzanosalata. My guest choose the more meaty meze with stuffed vine leaves (dolmades) that were cooked to perfection with a rice, mince and tomato stuffing that oozed out all the great flavours, the battered squid kalamari the eponymous special of the house, and the to-die-for char-grilled butterfly prawns. You tasted fresh succulent prawn and it really recreates beach-time barbeques. With really lame versions in the supermarket when you eat the stuff vine leaves you realise the difference between the soft tender melt-in-your-mouth version to the cold and stringy supermarket version of all the meze dishes.

We were in a real summery mood as the last few days have been deliciously warm and gently sipped a Rose wine with our starters. We were tempted by the array of slow cooked meats and decided to share the mains with a Greek salad. We choose (too much) as the light starters were not heavy and we wanted to stay and enjoy the atmosphere as people packed the tiny cafe rapidly we were glad we went in early to get the best window box seats. A lamb souvlah, chicken kebab, meat balls (kofte)and a lamb kebab - yes excessive but delicious. All the meats were soft, tender and cooked with different herbs and with their own unique flavour. The char-grilled chicken kebab and lamb kebab were smoky and delicious while the lamb meatballs in a bed of tomato and lightly chopped coriander stuffing had a softer flavour. The sulah went perfectly with the Greek salad with chunky tomatoes, onions, olives and feta cheese.

We simply could not do desert or coffees and as it grew dark sadly by nine o'clock, we snuggled into our wraps, drank the last of our rose and were offered a compliments of the house a piece of lokum - Greek delight. Of course we would not dare compare all the food which is similar to the wonderful Turkish cuisine or call lokum Turkish delight, or say the pitta bread was so like pide as that would be rude to our Greek hosts and this was pure Greek delight.

We decided against the retsina of course - that would have been a fatal end to the evening instead sane, solvent (the meal doesn't cost more that £25 a head including the wine) and sober we enjoyed the short walk back to Hammersmith.

Sumi Sastri

September 17, 2010