Food&Drink Writer Caitlin McGraw reviews Mythos Greek Taverna, an authentic Greek restaurant in the heart of Birmingham.
Close to the China Quarter and Gay Village, the diverse cultural melting pot of Birmingham is reflected in the food offered by a variety of establishments. The highly respected Mythos Greek Taverna is nestled in The Arcadian area of Birmingham’s centre among a selection of takeaways and restaurants serving Greek cuisine. Mythos is particularly noticeable due to its large, covered outdoor heated terrace exuding a cosy vibe, which was filled with diners for a late Sunday lunch in April when I visited.
Stepping inside the taverna is immediately like exiting a plane: the authentic Greek music and art on rustic brick walls transports you to a side street of Athens, with the sound of ceramics smashing not alarming but rather a sign of the cultural immersion that awaits (plates for smashing are available to purchase in restaurant).
The Mediterranean ambiance is heightened by tasteful embellishments to the interior, with large, embroidered rugs, wooden tables and traditional patterned crockery foreshadowing the authenticity which extends to the taverna’s cuisine. Most notable is Mythos’ iconic overgrown Bougainvillea trees planted in large ceramic pots with pink petals spiralling across the walls and ceiling which grab your attention immediately.
Mythos has lunch, main and theatre menus for different times of the week, with all options promising true, classic flavours of Greece right here in Birmingham. We opted for the main menu, which was dominated by mezze dishes, smaller plates recommended to be shared.
We ordered five mezzedes to try a range of Greek fish, vegetables and cheese delicacies, priced between £5-8 each. Labelled by Greek names, we chose the melitzanosalata (aubergine dip with warm pitta bread), dolmades (vine leaves stuffed with rice), bakaliaros (crispy battered cod with tartare sauce), spanakopita (spinach and feta filo pastry) and kolokythokeftedes (zucchini fritters with a feta centre).
The spanakopita and kolokythokeftedes were the most delectable, with the delicious flaky pastry and layers of spinach and cheese combining dreamily, whilst the mixed textures and flavours of the fritters reaffirmed my appreciation for gooey Greek feta paired with soft courgette.
Pleasantly filled from the multitude of small plates, we all ordered souvlaki for our main course, which is a popular Greek fast food traditionally of meat and vegetables grilled on a skewer. Our group ordered chicken and halloumi souvlakis, with Mythos Taverna grilling their souvlaki in house, over traditional Greek charcoal. The fresh and seasoned taste of the dish was evident, when they arrived on wooden boards with sides of Greek salad, oregano fries, rice and pitta breads- showing the Greek appreciation for a diverse range of carbohydrates!
The main course was a little difficult to finish because of its size, but I could still appreciate the large chunks of salty halloumi, grilled Mediterranean peppers, onions and tomatoes, and seasoned chips making up my dish. For balance, I would have appreciated a larger side salad. Whilst this main course was not the standout of the meal, the large portion sizes and fresh flavours continued to illustrate the impressive home-cooked authenticity of Mythos’ cooking, which justified the prices upwards of £15 for most main courses.
Other main courses included mixed grill platters, lamb and pork dishes, as well as a Greek Specialities menu adorned with stews, moussakas and stuffed peppers. Next time I would like to try the set Mezze Menu at £30 per person, which consists of three course dining experience following Mythos’ signature menu filled with small plates, signature skewers and sweet dessert assortment.
Speaking of authenticity, the drinks menu is filled with wines, beers, spirits, and non-alcoholic soft and hot drinks, all sourced from Greece and surrounding islands. I opted for a fresh lemonade which matched the food to truly make me feel like I was on holiday in the Mediterranean sun.
Mythos also offers a cocktail menu, with any drink ordered providing a new opportunity to try a uniquely Greek beverage and see what the country has to offer. I later ordered a rose and mint tea to finish the meal, which delicately contrasted the substantial food courses, with flavours of mint and rose petals provided through fresh leaves in the glass teapot rather than a teabag. This sweet and floral hot drink was delicious and paired nicely with the complementary Tsoureki (traditional Greek Easter bread) and red-dyed eggs we were served to celebrate Greek Orthodox Easter which was the day of our meal- it doesn’t get more genuine than that!
These on-the-house treats weren’t the only special touches provided by the serving staff at Mythos Taverna, where the waiters are clad in traditional Greek uniforms and are extremely friendly, responsive and made the dining experience even more enjoyable by providing true Greek hospitality.
Whilst we didn’t order dessert (we were simply too full after our first two courses), Mythos has a sweets menu infused with desserts flavoured with syrups, cinnamon and rose water such as famous baklava, revani (semolina and coconut cake) and Greek ice creams flavoured with mastic (tree resin), rose or kaimaki (orchid root). Whilst the aromas may initially appear unfamiliar or daunting, the beauty of Mythos is ordering a new dish and being guaranteed it has been created with care and precision, to remain true to Greek tradition in every dish that is served.
This review may have used the word ‘Greek’ a million times, but this drives home the whole point of Mythos Greek Taverna: to pay homage traditionally and authentically to the Mediterranean nation and the cuisine it has to offer. All of the food was beautifully made and flavoured, with filling portion sizes and fairly reasonable pricing at that.
I especially recommend sampling a range of dishes on the mezzedes menu to experience the diverse flavours, intriguing textures and in-house cooking, at the expense of potentially being too full to finish your next course.
As a pescetarian diner, there are plenty of vegetarian and meat-free dishes across all of Mythos’ menus with feta, spinach and peppers starring as key flavours in many recipes.
All that’s left to say about Mythos is that you should grab a group of loved ones, make your way into the city centre and prepare to enjoy an authentic dining experience at this must-visit restaurant. You may not be built like a Greek god afterwards, but you certainly will have eaten like one.
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