Going Greek in Headingley: Santorini

Last weekend was lovely in Leeds. We were treated to a solid period of sunny weather combined with the first signs of spring.

I made the most of the weather, going for a long walk with a friend around my local area. In addition to enjoying the sunny views, we worked up a good appetite. So, once we got home, we set about deciding on what to eat for tea – keen to try a meal from one of the restaurants in my local area. We decided to go for the Greek and Turkish cuisine offered by Santoini Bar & Grill, located in the heart of Headingley.

Santorini is a family-run business, serving a variety of authentic dishes from across the Aegean region, and according to TripAdvisor, Santorini is Headingley’s favourite restaurant. Although I have ordered and reviewed food from Santorini before, I have not tried their food for almost a year and things have changed a lot in that time. So, I thought it only right to try out some more of their dishes and see if the food is all that it is cracked up to be.

I ordered a meal via their website. Usually, I would go for a mezze platter as I love the combination of snacks, dips and bread. But, seeing as I was wanting to try something different, I opted for some small plates and a main dish. I ordered three small plates, first opting for the lamb meatballs, which were spiced with chilli, cumin and paprika and were served in a rich tomato sauce. I enjoyed their moist, loose texture and liked the combination of Mediterranean spices. For £5.95, I received 5 decent sized meatballs, so I felt the dish was fairly priced.

I also ordered ‘sucuk’, which is a dry, spicy and fermented Turkish sausage that came in a pepper and tomato sauce. I hadn’t tried the sausage before, and although I found the texture unusual, I enjoyed the flavour of the meat and thought that the combination of spicy sausage with the sweet sauce worked well.

The final small plate were falafel. I always like to order falafel when eating in a Mediterranean restaurant. The falafel from Santorini were great – I loved their crunchy exteriors and soft interiors, and also loved the balance of herbs and spices. I missed being able to dip them into a bowl of hummus but made up for that by dipping them in some of the remaining sauce from the other small plates. All the plates were served with traditional Turkish bread, which was soft, had a lovely poppy seed flavour and was ideal for mopping up the sauces – but as this bread came with all the dishes, it meant that I was a little overwhelmed with it!

For the main meal, it had to be the chicken gyro. Gyros, also known as souvlaki, offers all the deliciousness of Greece wrapped in pita bread. The gyro from Santorini came with slices of chicken, chips (still not sure on this), tomatoes, cucumber, cabbage, onions, hummus and a mild tzatziki sauce, which is based on yogurt, cucumber and garlic. In Greece, gyros are served as fast food and are cheap and are typically not great when served in a restaurant.

However, the gyro from Santorini was delicious. The meat was well cooked and seasoned. I loved the combination of salad items and thought the pitta it was served in was perfectly soft and held together well. I am not a fan of having chips in the gyro – but it is tradition and so I let that one slide. I also am yet to see why you would opt for chips in a takeaway as they never hold the heat and become soft. However, despite that, I enjoyed the dish and wouldn’t hesitate to order it again, especially as it was less than £9 for a filling plate of food.

Santorini, like all other restaurants in Leeds during lockdown, is closed to eat-in diners, but is open for takeaway. They have really gone to town with this. In addition to offering a delivery and collection system, with local delivery partners, they have also created a brilliant set up right outside their restaurant, with baklava, breads, drinks and snacks displayed. I collected the meal from the restaurant itself, and I am glad I did because it meant that I got to chat with the staff, see how things are going there and also get to enjoy the sights and smells of the restaurant whilst I waited for my meal. From a business and marketing perspective, this was great in my opinion as it really drew in customers.

If you are looking for a quick and tasty takeaway this week, I would recommend that you check out Santorini. I am contemplating a return trip this week to try out one of their baklava – as they looked incredible as I was waiting for my order at the weekend. I am also really looking forward to being able to enjoy eating a takeaway gyro from Santorini on a warm summer evening.

Photographs by Gemma Bridge.

Dr Gemma Bridge

Gemma, who works at Leeds Beckett University, has been writing for over 10 years and loves to share what's going on in and around Leeds. She is also an international athlete, artist and the creator of Leeds Food Guide. You can find her on Instagram at @GLB_racewalk or @Leeds_FoodGuide

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