Restaurant Review: Opa

Even if you’ve walked right past Opa on North Parade, you’d be forgiven for not having noticed it, because it doesn’t look like much from the outside – a small sign at the top of an iron staircase gives no hint of the stylish cocktail bar and Greek mezze restaurant underneath. But follow the stairs down below street-level and you’ll discover a suite of beautifully redecorated cellar rooms, with vaulted ceilings lit by soft candlelight and, in winter, a fire burning in the stone hearth. There’s also a gorgeous little hidden terrace on the riverbank, perfect for sitting back and sipping a delicious cocktail from Opa’s extensive menu – which covers everything from champagne Bellinis to the Woo Woos with which students will be very familiar – although all with skill and a certain elegance.  
I’d been to Opa for drinks many times but had never gotten round to trying the food – to be honest, although the menu looked very tempting, it was a bit beyond my student budget, at around £30 per person for a full mezze. But recently I noticed that Opa has started offering an early evening menu of three mezze dishes, or one main course, plus a glass of wine, for £9.99 – which seemed like the perfect excuse. 

Between us my boyfriend and I decided to try all six tapas on the special menu. The bekry (pork in a tomato and brandy sauce) and the dolmades (stuffed vine leaves) were definitely my favourites the pork was meltingly tender, brandy lending a wonderful sweet edge to the rich tomato and pepper sauce. In case you’ve never tried them before, dolmades are little parcels of rice wrapped in vine leaves, and they’re absolutely delicious – these were perfectly seasoned with lemon juice and garlic, and were crammed with flavour.

The dips, served with warm pitta bread, were delicious, especially the tsatsiki – I’m not usually a fan of tsatsiki, which is based on yoghurt and cucumber, because it can often be a bit washed-out and flavourless, but this was rich and extremely tasty. The soutzoukakia, lamb meatballs, were also good, in a dark, smoky tomato sauce.

I have to admit, the dish I was most disappointed with was the garides skordates, tiger prawns in a white wine and garlic sauce, since they arrived at the table in a cloud of mouth-watering aromas, but unfortunately didn’t deliver at all in the taste department. The spetzofi, spicy Greek sausage, was also fairly average, since the taste was fine but the texture was decidedly odd!

Overall, however, I would definitely recommend Opa – most of the dishes were absolutely delicious, the portions were generous, the atmosphere was lovely and the price was extremely reasonable. The service was also swift and friendly, although I must admit it wasn’t very busy so early in the evening! Pop down to this place on a warm sunny evening, take advantage of the early menu, and then while away the rest of the evening by the river with a cocktail or two…