Bronze Award

SquareMeal Review of Ampéli

Bronze Award

Greek food, once considered exotic in the UK, has been rather overlooked in recent years in favour of other eastern Mediterranean cuisines. This classy newcomer, inspired by the wine culture of Athens and the diversity of Greek cuisine, aims to change that.

This is not the place to expect taverna clichés of painted tiles and olive plants. Founder Jenny Pagnoni has spent many years in Athens and her cosmopolitan background informs not only the chic, stylish decor of earthy bronzes, plush greens and stark whites but also the rotating exhibitions of Greek artists such as watercolourist Leonie de Lange and sculptor Visiliki Maliopoulou.

The menu takes inspiration from Pagnoni’s family recipes, with dishes sold as ‘social plates’ rather than traditional mezze but just as well suited to share. Tangy and vibrant pistachio and Aleppo pepper-whipped feta, a delicious, moreish dip, overshadowed the Josper-smoked aubergine with tahini and walnuts, which was tasty, but a tad predictable. Crisp, spiced potato borek with shrimp and harissa mayo was less conventional and a delicious foil for soft lamb sweetbreads.

From the larger plates, grilled lamb chops and baby chicken, marinated in baharat and grape molasses respectively, were a succulent, meaty feast that didn’t feel too heavy, with bright labneh and pickled kumquats adding a pleasingly sharp-sour note to cut through the richness. We finished with desserts of loukoumades and chocolate mousse – decent enough, but not worth the button-popping.

The wine list shares equal billing with the menu, while diners unfamiliar with Greek wine regions and grapes will find helpful guidance from the friendly and well-versed staff. Prices, meanwhile, are reasonable for the plum Charlotte Street address (formerly Señor Ceviche). The only downside to our meal was a table which was too small for easy sharing.

If you don’t feel like eating, the Greek wines can be sampled from one of the plush green stools in the stylish bar area.

Good to know

Average Price
££££ - £30 - £49
Cosy, Lively
Food Occasions
Dinner, Lunch
Special Features
Vegetarian options
Birthdays, Dates

Location for Ampéli

18 Charlotte Street, Fitzrovia, London, W1T 2LZ

020 3355 5370


Opening Times

Mon 12:00-14:30
Tue 12:00-14:30
Wed 12:00-14:30
Thu 12:00-14:30
Fri 12:00-14:30
Sat 12:00-14:30
Sun Closed
Mon 17:30-22:30
Tue 17:30-22:30
Wed 17:30-22:30
Thu 17:30-22:30
Fri 17:30-22:30
Sat 17:30-22:30
Sun Closed
All day
Mon Closed
Tue Closed
Wed Closed
Thu Closed
Fri Closed
Sat Closed
Sun 12:00-21:00

Reviews of Ampéli

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1 Review 

Alex G

More Mediterranean
28 February 2020  

Diners around the Charlotte Street/ Goodge Street nexus have an ample range of dining opportunities. Ampéli – open since January – does, however, bring something new. Eastern Mediterranean (a nice broad catch-all, encompassing everything from Italy to Israel) is definitively on-trend while Greek food and wine – Ampéli’s angle – is both overlooked and underappreciated. Much thought has gone into Ampéli (located on the site occupied formerly by Senor Ceviche). The venue spans three levels and can hold 80 covers, yet owing to intelligent design, it feels neither cramped nor crowded. We liked the clever use of light and space as well as the thoughtful décor: think muted olive wallpaper and bronze ornamentation as well as watercolours from a local Greek artist on the lower level. The team behind Ampéli also has pedigree, with the head chef having learned his trade in Tel Aviv’s famous Toto restaurant before moving on to Ottolenghi’s Nopi. Meanwhile, front-of-house can count Claridge’s among other on her CV. We received a warm welcome on our recent Friday lunchtime visit and seated on Ampéli’s mezzanine level, we were able to watch the action; the venue gradually filled up during the time we were there, despite the unpleasant weather. Onto the food, and £19 for a two-course set lunch menu (or £30 for three) has to be considered as one of central London’s bargains. Alternatively, the a la carte offers small sharing dishes in the £8-10 range (although I dislike the contrived term used here for these as ‘social plates’) with mains coming in at £15-20. We kept it simple and went for the set option. Even this gave an insight into the venue’s potential and – spoiler alert – based on the success of what we ate, I would willingly return. The Israeli influence seems strong – if in doubt, add tahini. Yet this proved a winning formula. Sesame sauce featured as an accompaniment both to one our meze (smoked aubergine) and also with our Sambusac (wild mushroom pastries) main. Regardless, the success of Ampéli lies in its ingredient selection – an emphasis on the fresh, where the base substance does the talking. Roasted beetroot also rocked as a meze option. Elsewhere, even if wild boar sausage perhaps sounds more French than Greek, the addition of sour cabbage infused with smoked lemon really helped this dish along. Plaudits for the wine list too, which emphasises Greek varietals above all else, yet usefully compares to them to international brethren (if you like, for example, Sauvignon Blanc then the list helpfully suggests that you might enjoy an Assyrtiko too). There’s little not to like. Time already to plan the next visit.  

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