We are Efthymios and Neofytos, two Londoners born and raised in Athens and Cyprus. We have recently launched The Athenian, a small street food venture, offering freshly-made souvlaki prepared in the healthiest, most authentic way possible.
Ask any Greek and they will be sure to tell you that souvlaki is our nation’s favourite food to eat on the go. A quick, healthier alternative to fast food, it consists of a pita wrap filled with grilled meat (or cheese as a vegetarian alternative) and served in a way we love. Its name comes from a medieval word, meaning ‘little skewer’, after the cooking method.
At The Athenian we start making our souvlaki by grilling tender pieces of chicken, pork or tasty Talagani cheese (think halloumi with a more refined texture and minty undertone) marinated in Greek herbs, before wrapping them in a soft, handmade pita and adding freshly chopped red onions, tomatoes, lettuce and parsley. We top things off with a choice of our perfected homemade dips: tyrokafteri (spicy feta and red pepper), tzatziki (cucumber, yogurt and garlic) or our original Souvlaki Sauce, a top secret recipe, designed to lend a subtle sweetness to the flavourings.
For us, these ingredients were staples of family life, part of the Mediterranean diet that is famed as one of the healthiest in the world. The inspiration for our own pursuit of cooking began in the remote mountain village of Vamos on the island of Crete. It was here that a local lady, Mrs Koula shared her own secret recipes with Efthymios. We were so blown away by Mrs Koula’s culinary skills that we wanted to recreate that unforgettable experience here in London.
On moving to the UK, we realised that Greek cuisine was being somewhat misrepresented here. We were often disappointed by out-dated, unappetizing dishes and our search for lovingly-made, mouth-watering souvlaki was nearly impossible.
That’s how The Athenian came about: we wanted to bring something new to the people of London, with an updated image of Greek cuisine, to the city’s thriving food markets. By paying us a visit you will find souvlaki the way it is meant to be made: simple, fresh and authentically Greek.
We are sure you know that our home country has been through some troubling times recently. By creating our own little business here in London, we help support people back home by sourcing our products from small, independent producers and farmers as well as local businesses here in the UK. We aim to keep our carbon footprint low where we can, without ever compromising on the authentic Mediterranean experience we want to bring to our customers.
We are proud to say we can trace back all of the carefully-selected ingredients used in our souvlaki. Our pita is hand-made in Athens, our olive oil is from the small town of Sitia in Crete, our herbs are from the mountainous town of Karpenisi and our dairy products come from the beautiful region of Messinia in the Peloponnese.
You’ve probably noticed the little owl in our logo. In Greek mythology, a little owl represented or accompanied Athena, the virgin goddess of wisdom. The city of Athens took its name from Athena and her little owl was printed on its ancient currency. It is still used today on our one Euro coin.
The Athenian’s logo has been created by the Greek-Italian Nicola Zamboni and the Brazilian illustrator Fernando Volken Togni.
Look out for our stall and its little owl in food markets, festivals, pop-ups and events in and around London, details can be found under ‘When and Where’. You can also visit our newly opened shops at Boxpark Shoreditch and at The Artworks Elephant & Castle. You can order online via Deliveroo and UberEATS around Shoreditch and Elephant & Castle for local deliveries or Jinn for most other areas of London!
Kalí óreksi! (Bon appetit!)
Efthymios and Neofytos