ZEUS is the father of Gods and men and is also the god of sky and thunder in Greek mythology. It’s a name that takes some living up to.
Zeus run by the Charalambous family opened around six months ago at the bottom of town in the triangular piece of land that gave me my first job. That was as a glass collector at the Boy and Barrel in the days when Irene was at the piano for a good old fashioned sing song, and then after 10.30pm I moved through to Johnnys nightclub and did a stint there until 3am or so.
In more recent times people will remember where Zeus now is as The Palace Bar. And it does have something of that feel still with its marble floors and wooden bar. There are a lot of tables in there with some that can be seen by passersby and the rest tucked around the corner behind an internal wall.
The website promises that on busy nights things can take a somewhat lively turn in the Greek Cypriot way. But not on our night as it was quiet and it would have seemed so wrong to smash a plate on the floor. We’ll save that for another time, maybe along with the Greek dancing and live music.
The menu is traditionally Greek. It offers a three course meal for £18 that is, whichever way you look at it, good value for money.
We thought there would be a lot to eat. The amount that arrived did a disservice to the word ‘lot’. About as much as we ate ended up in sealed containers and taken home. It’s a two meal jobbie which makes it even better value for money.
The Greek for lamb is Arni – but Arnie Schwarzenegger would have struggled to shift this lot. ŠIt begins with olives in oil with jalapeno peppers – the kind that can be eaten without a jug of water – and warm pitta bread. Each of us had enough olives for two – big juicy fellows that kind of set the scene for what was to follow. The olives are marinated in chilli, garlic and olive oil and the dips were hummus and tzatziki.
There was no sense of hurry – a great relaxed feel to the place. The food comes down a special culinary lift from above – perhaps the chefs are up there with the Gods – and there’s a telltale sign to let the waiter know when it’s on its way.
Second course was keftedes (meatballs), dolmades (mince and rice in vine leaves) and grilled halloumi. The two super-size meatballs were in a thick, creamy tomato sauce while the grilled halloumi cheese has a strange texture somewhere between rubber and chicken, and yet the taste is unique in a very good way. Pour a few drops of the balsamic vinegar on the dolmades to bring out its full flavour.
And then, after all this, on to the piece de resistance – beef Stifado and a mixed kebab with a Greek salad. This is the king of kebabs – meatball, beef and chicken on a rather large skewer. They must have some cooking range up there with the Gods. It’s a meat lovers dream and comes with two of the world’s biggest chips along with grilled vegetables including aubergine and peppers with the Stifado nestling on a bed of deftly flavoured rice. Greek salad is finely chopped and drizzled with oil, putting your English salad definitely in the shade.
If there’s any criticism the beef Stifado was a touch dry and it could have done with more sauce.
But this was a good, solid meal that’s a great insight into Greek food and adds to the cosmopolitan nature of Huddersfield’s restaurant scene.
Just to get that appetite going other starters were falafel – ground chickpea rissoles blended with coriander, onion and cumin and served with fresh hummus (£5) plus there’s s a feta cheese salad (£4.50) or traditional Cypriot cheese grilled and served with fresh carrot chutney (£5.95), all for vegetarians.
For the mains there are Cypriot specialities such as Kleftiko – a joint of lamb slow cooked with oregano, garlic and mint (£13.95) or if you fancy meat and vegetables how about classic Moussaka with layers of aubergine, courgettes, potatoes and minced lamb topped with Bechamel (£10.95). Vegetarians can have this without the minced lamb for a couple of quid cheaper.
The menu is riddled with kebabs in any combination you could think of and for beef lovers the Stifado is diced beef cooked slowly in red wine, onions and herbs (£12.95) or huge steaks with a choice of sauces.
Seafood is prominent and there is an £18 three course seafood choice including calamari, whitebait, swordfish, as well as king prawns and salmon dishes. But another eye-catcher is traditional fisherman style casserole with king prawns, mussels, salmon and swordfish cooked with tomatoes, peppers and parsley in a white wine sauce served with rice (£13.95).
Our vegetarian chums should get a kick out of a whole aubergine fried with olive oil and filled with onions, mushrooms, garlic and peppers topped with tomato sauce and served with rice and salad (£9.95).
There are pastas and pizzas too and the puddings include layered filo pastry with nuts and syrup or homemade Greekstyle rice pudding and lemon brulee.
35 Kirkgate, Huddersfield, HD1 1QT.
Tel 01484 424609
Opening hours 12 noon to 10pm Monday to Saturday and from 5pm to 10pm on Sunday
Disabled accessYes but no disabled toilet
Would you go back?Yes