Delfi Greek taverna
Where: 386 Lilian Ngoyi Road, Morningside
Open: Monday and Wednesday to Sunday lunch and dinner
Call: 031 312 7032
I had forgotten how good a humble tomato can be.
The Glass Guy and I had popped into another Morningside favourite for a simple Sunday supper and catch-up. We’re at Delfi, the humble Greek taverna of sisters Maria and Dodi Teranes.
It’s something of a local. There’s nothing posh about Delfi with its vinyl tablecloths in Hellenic blue (easy to wipe down after a messy prawn meal) to its collection of Greek clutter like ouzo bottles in the shape of a ukulele, but it’s comfy and cosy and regulars are treated as part of the extended family. I also let the food do the talking, and I like its authenticity.
I could be eating prawns, and yes Maria’s Prawns, as they’re known, are famous. So famous in fact that friends who live in Salt Rock always insist on picking up a couple of kilogrammes of prawns when we visit them. Everyone around us is eating them. They are flying out the kitchen all around us on giant platters cooked in her home-made peri-peri sauce. Everyone is diving in, ripping off shells, sauce dripping down to the elbows.
Her kilogramme of prawns special at less than R500 is a generous meal for two. They’re plump juicy creatures, lifted by a little bit of peri-peri fire. They come with excellent chips too. Ideal for mopping up the sauce. The table next door ordered an extra plate to do just that.
The Glass Guy quickly goes there, ordering a half kilogramme, tearing, dunking, mopping up sauces, sucking shells. He emits inelegant but appreciative schlurping noises throughout.
Yet instead, I am getting excited by tomatoes. Mad, I know. Stuffed tomatoes are on special and I haven’t seen them for a while. These are ripe tomatoes stuffed with lamb and rice and cooked in a meat stock with a spike of fresh mint until soft. I’d forgotten how magnificent this humble dish was, full of hearty flavour and goodness. And more of those chips to mop up the juices here too.
If you’re not attacking the prawns, there’s plenty of Greek-inspired mains to choose from. There are usually four or five fish options, including sole and sardines, with the fish usually grilled simply with lots of lemon and parsley. There’s lamb shank, and chops, naturally a good moussaka (I often order this in when I’m entertaining) and kofta in pita with tzatziki. Another favourite is the kokkinisto ‒ a pot-roasted beef in stock and tomatoes and garlic, with a good splash of olive oil and some cloves to give it a spice lift. This can also be had as a pie topped with phyllo. Vegetarians can relish imam bayildi, brinjals roasted in olive oil, tomatoes and garlic. It’s a hearty dish.
We had started with a mezze platter which is substantial and good value for money. There’s lovely crisp courgette fritters, fresh-out-the-oven spinach and feta pies, halloumi, roasted brinjal wrapped around feta, lamb meatballs as well as green and black olives, bread, vegetables and a good baba ganoush. We also relish a dish of crispy squid heads that have simply been dusted in seasoned flour and fried to a golden crisp. We dunk them in a bowl of skordalia pungent with garlic.
But pickled octopus is something of a speciality here, as is Greek-style sausage served at the table flamed in ouzo. Another interesting starter is the anchovy and rocket salad.
Dessert takes in traditional baklava, galaktoboureko or custard slice, halva ice cream, and orange and walnut cake. There are some brought in cheesecakes for those who don’t want to go the traditional route, but I was happy to squeeze in a custard cigar cooked in phyllo, while the Glass Guy nibbled on a good piece of Greek shortbread. We both enjoyed our Greek coffees, even though you can’t drink the bottom third of the cup.
The Bill: Apologies, this was lost in the wash.
The Independent on Saturday