All Greek to me

Neil Littman is reminded of a trip to Corfu on his visit to Blue Olive in Cockfosters

Spanakopita are triangular parcels filled with feta and spinach
Spanakopita; triangular parcels filled with feta and spinach

Blue Olive is a family-run restaurant in Cockfosters that has been around for a long time. Although primarily serving Greek cuisine, it describes itself as a Mediterranean restaurant.

On the Tuesday I visited with my friend, the place was particularly busy for so early in the week. The first thing I noticed on entering was a plate of roast potatoes on a table occupied by a birthday group, including three generations of the same family. While the dining area seats around 120, it still manages to feel intimate thanks to the thought that has gone into the layout.

What followed turned out to be very similar to my dining experiences when I went on holiday to Corfu a few years ago (minus the warm evening weather and being outdoors!). The enthusiastic welcome we received on arrival was a good start, which I put it down to the fact that we stood out because most of the people dining there were already known to the staff. My friend said he thought the atmosphere was really good; simple moments like that are important and make the experience memorable even before a plate of food arrives.

We were told about the specials of the day, but decided to stick to the main menu – though made a mental note about what would be good to try in future. We started with hot Kalamata olives and spanakopita (triangular parcels filled with feta and spinach) plus pitta bread. The spanakopita were about twice the size of any I have eaten previously and I barely had time to take a photo before they disappeared.

This was followed by keftedes (meatballs) with a large mixed Greek salad to share which my guest ordered, having eaten them in Greece and wanting to see how they compared – or perhaps remind himself he had not been on holiday for a long time.

My first choice of chicken souvla had surprisingly sold out by 7.30pm. Our waiter suggested three grilled chicken skewers and a plate of roast potatoes. Sounds simple, but the end result is always about the best ingredients, precisely cooked.

We skipped desserts, mainly because we were full, but we saw they were serving baklava, kataifi and various cheesecakes. Including our two beers and service, the bill came to £58. And yes, you can have the roast potatoes with almost everything!

Blue Olive can be found at 12 Cockfosters Road, Cockfosters EN4 0DL and is open Monday-Saturday 12pm-11.30pm and Sunday 12pm-10.30pm, for eating in or for deliveries. The menu is about £30-40 per head. Find out more online:
Visit theblueoliverestaurant.com