Notios Restaurant and Bar, Southsea | Restaurant review

The nights are drawing in, the weather is getting even wetter, and the woolly jumpers are re-emerging from their summer hibernation.

Notios, Marmion Road, Southsea.
Notios, Marmion Road, Southsea.

Time, my Dish Detective companion and I thought, for a sunny getaway – before the Moroccan holiday we excitedly booked was scuppered by rising Covid rates. Curses.

Although our travel plans were thwarted, we still daydream of warm and beautiful places.

Greece is high on our bucket list and, as food lovers, the cuisine is a big part of the appeal. So one damp day, we made a booking over the phone for an evening table at Notios Restaurant and Bar.

You can almost smell the sea and feel the sun...

Tempted by its promise to deliver ‘a taste of Greece in the heart of Southsea’, we walk down Marmion Road and step beneath the streaming white flowers trailing across the restaurant’s doorway.

Inside Notios – not to be confused with the other Notios, a bar and cafe only a few minutes’ walk away in Osborne Road – it is cosy and comfortable, lit by candles and decorated with more white flowers.

Inside a mural depicts domed buildings on the hills of the island of Santorini, awash with sunshine and glowing white against the rich, sea blue of the Aegean. This white and cobalt blue colour palette continues throughout, with shelves, doors, and framed pictures echoing the Grecian blue theme.

So much food they have to stack it high. at Notios in Marmion Road.

To the food: Notios offers a selection of hot and cold Greek meze plates, as well as chicken and lamb grill options and sides.

There are several souvlaki options (from £14.50) which come with salad, taziki and either chips or rice, as well as main-sized bamieh (£14.50) and moussaka £13.50) courses.

Our waiter was friendly and helpful, chatting with customers and giving us information about our food. We opt for a selection of the meze plates to share between the two of us. These arrived piled high on a triple-tier plate rack, high tea style.

Surprisingly quiet for a Friday night, our plates came out in decent time. Top was a bowl of the restaurant’s signature ‘Notios hoummos’ (£7.25), a classic hummus with a twist – a little parsley, green chilli, and olive oil blended in for an extra boost of earthy flavour.

This came with a pile of warm flatbread, as did the tzatziki (£6.95). This cold serving was very tasty, but could have benefitted from extra garlic.

Naturally, we had to try the moussaka (£7.95), always a treat. Notios’s creamy recipe involves layers of finely-sliced aubergine and soft potatoes slow-cooked and topped with béchamel sauce. Warm, filling, and full of flavour.

We also shared a plate of halloumi (£7.25), lightly grilled and topped with the tiniest amount of thyme for extra flavour.

A new cuisine experience was the bamieh (£7.50): soft okra cooked with tomatoes, onion, olive oil and spices. The okra – also known, rather creepily, as ladies’ fingers – was melt-in-your-mouth tender, simmered delicately in the stew of vegetables.

The dressing on the salad which accompanies the dishes – olive oil mixed with a little lemon and pomegranate juice, the waiter tells me – was delightfully zesty and fresh.

We feared we’d over-ordered – we were, in fact, moved to a larger table to accommodate our numerous plates – but the food was so delicious we ate until only a few grains of rice and scraps of salad remained on the table.

Although too stuffed for dessert, we did look at the restaurant’s sweets, baklava (£7), with layers of crisp filo pastry, walnuts and honey as well as Greek yoghurt and dates (£6), and a serving of ouzo (£4.50), which can be drunk with water as an aperitif or straight up. Maybe next time.

A Greek escape would be a treat, but if you’re staying closer to home this November, why not go for the next best thing?

RATINGS (out of five)

Food: 4

Value: 4

Ambience: 4

Child-friendly: N/A

Phone: (023) 9282 5001

A message from the editor, Mark Waldron.

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