For plenty of people, particularly those from Northern Europe, Greek cuisine was first sampled during a two-week summer holiday as a teenager; a late-night souvlaki skewer or something in pita bread just before decamping to the cheap hotel overlooking the Mediterranean was about the extent of the cultural exploration. For those teenagers who have grown up and moved to Dubai, there are plenty of places in which a more three-dimensional view of Greek food can be found.
One of them is JLT eatery Mythos in the Armada Bluebay Hotel in Cluster P. Its white stone walls, arches, olive trees and cavernous ceilings create the feeling of a Cycladean taverna, even if the view of the lake is obscured. Décor alone is not enough to create a genuinely Greek experience, of course, which is why owner Alex Economides has packed his kitchen with compatriots capable of transporting customers back to his homeland.
“I am Greek and have always had a vision of putting Greek cuisine on Dubai’s culinary map,” Economides tells us. “We were able to do that with Elia in Majestic Hotel Tower, which opened in 2007. Greek cuisine has picked up in momentum and we felt the time was right to introduce a second Greek concept.”
His follow-up doesn’t disappoint. After digging into a generous bowl of olives, we kick off our Mythos experience with a saganaki starter. It is essentially fried cheese but is elevated by the quality of the gooey Graviera – this variety of Greece’s “second cheese” hails from Naxos – inside a light outer shell.
The country’s foremost cheese is of course feta, which at Mythos is best consumed as the base of its spicy dip – a generous scoop on a piece of homemade pita brings with it a gentle warmth. The classic Greek salad provides a fresh, lighter alternative for those who prefer their feta in its purest form, while it also comes baked in parchment paper or served simply with olive oil and oregano.
The main course options combine both the familiar and the fascinating. After feta and olives, moussaka is Greece’s most famous culinary export and Mythos’ version flies the flag with aplomb. Densely packed, the layers of minced lamb and beef, béchamel and aubergine work in rich, delicious harmony, while a side of fried zucchini or Greek salad can provide a welcome crunch.
The moussaka is certainly memorable, but for flavours that can be described as truly Olympian you need to look to the slow cooked lamb with oregano, which is an utter delight. Served in a pretty pottery bowl that could have been pinched straight from the Parthenon, the meat is meltingly good, while the soft lemon pilaf cuts dreamily through each deep-flavoured mouthful. For dessert, we follow the meal’s theme and go hearty. The Loukoumades – sweet dumplings with honey and walnuts – are not as heavy as they sound but are as sweet. It is a little too easy to forget how many of these wonderfully moreish balls of dough you’ve eaten, such is the generous quantity dished up.
Mythos promise to show diners the “hearty flavours of traditional Greek food and to explore the rich culinary traditions of Greece,” and they succeed. Mythos’ philosophy of delectability is one that we can certainly get our teeth into.
Three dishes to try
The Greek version of coq au vin, this is a tasty hearty dish of tomatoes, garlic, onion and a deep, rich sauce.
You can hardly go to a Greek restaurant and not try the moussaka. This lives up to the billing.
Mainly because we want everyone to try and say it, but this custard dessert is a sticky sweet mess of goodness.
Where: Armada Bluebay, Cluster P, JLT
Contact: +9714 399 8166