“ 58 Osborne Road,Southsea,Portsmouth,PO5 3LU,Tel: 02392 75 0200 „
I was less than impressed a few weeks ago when my son told me that he and his partner had been for a meal at Steki. I remember Steki from ten years ago as a take-out Greek food place that I would have put on a par with Ken's Kebabs. I also remember once having a nasty stomach upset after eating a take-away from Steki. I had vowed never to return. Steki, however, has undergone a complete transformation and is now a very popular eat-in restaurant.
It was just after 6pm on a sunny Saturday evening when we were deciding where to go to eat. Osborne Road in Southsea is refered to by the local paper's restaurant reviewer as 'Restaurant Row', and there are still a good few establishments that I haven't tried. People were jostling to look at the menu in Steki's window, and we decided we would go in and see if we could get a table. It certainly was busy inside, with a mixture of Greek and British clients. By this time it was 6.20pm, and the waitress said she had a table for two but it would have to be vacated by 7.30pm. That seemed enough time to us, and we were seated at a table towards the back, just to the side of the bar.
We didn't think we had time for a starter, but my son had had humus (£3) on his previous visit and said that it had been a very generous serving. He had also tried the olives (£3) which he had found rather too salty. Most of the starters are £3, with the exception of feta cheese with tzatziki at £4 and a selection of three dips served with bread at £5. There is also a choice of four salads and three soups. We each ordered a glass of fruit juice at £1.50. Greek wines and beers are available, but I am not a connoisseur of either.
The fish dish of the day was sea bass which I found enticing, but at £14 it was considerably more expensive than the other main courses which range from £6.50 for two of the vegetarian options to £9.90 for lamb. On his previous visit my son had tried Kleftiko, 'lamb marinated overnight and then wrapped tightly in baking paper and cooked with vegetables, sealing the juices and herbs together'. He recommended it so I decided to give it a try. He ordered Souvlaki Chicken (£7.20), chargrilled chicken served on sticks, marinated overnight and served with side salad, pitta bread, a choice of dip, and either chips or rice. He chose humus as the dip and rice. Other main courses include moussaka, meatballs in tomato sauce with baked potatoes, stifado, Greek country style sausage and souvlaki pork. There are also two barbecue dishes for sharing: one for two people at £20 and one for four people at £39. Both are served with chips and salad and include various servings of chicken, pork, sausage and beef.
We didn't have to wait long for our food to be served. My Kleftiko resembled nothing I had ever seen before, coming as it does with a large sheet of baking paper still lining the earthenware dish. It is a kind of casserole of lamb, chunks of potato, carrots and peas in a delicious gravy. The lamb was extremely tender if slightly fatty, and it tasted wonderful after being marinated overnight. The vegetables were cooked to perfection and had also picked up the flavour of the marinade. I don't eat a lot of red meat, but I felt that I had certainly made the right choice. Someone with a larger appetite might want a side order of bread, but for me the Kleftiko alone was quite sufficient. My son was very satisfied with his Souvlaki, saying that the chicken also had an excellent flavour since it had been marinated. While we were eating the waiter came to ask if everything was all right, and the waitress asked the same question when she came to remove our plates.
Small menus with desserts on one side and a list of hot drinks on the reverse are left on the tables. We didn't unfortunately have time to sample the desserts, but I did like the sound of Karidopita, a walnut cake with cinnamon and a syrup topping. Baklava is also on the menu, alongside Galaktoboureko, a custard-filled pastry, and a chocolate cake called Kormos, said to be popular with children. Most desserts are £3.50 which is very reasonable, and there is ice cream at £2.50.
Our bill came to just over £20, to which we added a tip.
Steki has a reputation for being a very friendly place, and the waiting staff were certainly very welcoming. As well as being polite and efficient, they are smartly dressed in close-fitting royal blue shirts and black trousers. The place was busy when we arrived, but they appeared unruffled and I imagine they are used to a constant flow of customers.
The restaurant itself has a charming Greek feel to it. Pretend wooden shutters, earthenware pots and one or two paintings adorn the walls. The floor is tiled and tables and chairs are wooden. Above the bar hangs a fishing net with starfish and other sea creatures decorating it. I have admittedly never been to Greece, but I felt as though the atmosphere had been thoughtfully created.
On my way to the ladies I noticed a high-chair tucked in a corner, so I'm sure Steki is a suitable place for families. It is ideally situated just round the corner from Palmerston Road shopping centre and just a few minutes' walk from Southsea common and the seafront. Although it faces fierce competition from the plethora of restaurants on Osborne Road, it appears to be drawing the crowds in. I am sure I shall be returning, having enjoyed both the food and the atmosphere and not having spent a fortune.
58 Osborne Road
Tel. 023 9275 0200
Also published on other sites.
Steki is situated in Southsea, Portsmouth and since 1998 it does its best every day to succeed the highest level in quality of food and service.