After months of not going out, I did not know where to begin when my friend and I decided to go out for food in Hull.
So I was relieved when she recommended we try a new Greek restaurant in Newland Avenue - The Aegean Taverna - which has recently relocated from Anlaby Road and promises "a slice of Greek sunshine with a real taverna feel to it and a buzzy atmosphere with space for close to 100 people".
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It was a Wednesday evening, and admittedly, we were slightly late for our table. Luckily, it was fairly busy for mid-week but was not packed out.
The new restaurant is spacious and airy with plenty of tables and has a relaxed vibe. Window shutters on the wall depict serene Greek locations while an open kitchen at the back of the restaurant means you can peak into the action.
But, once seated, things got off to a less encouraging start.
See before and after pictures of her home in the video above.
The waitress brought over someone else's drinks. And she did not seem to be familiar with the wine when we ordered ours. It turned out our choice was not available after all. Two tap waters we'd ordered with our substitute bottle of wine were forgotten initially too.
Meanwhile, we tried multiple times to place our food order and was told by two waitresses that it would need to be done by another member of staff. There was no urgency to take our order, resorting in us repeatedly asking.
The waiting and asking seemed to go on and on.
Already fed up by this point, after eventually placing our food order, we were later informed that our starters and mains would all be coming at once. Not exactly ideal and not what we - or our bellies - wanted to hear.
The waiter did apologise for the starter mix-up (we'd made it clear we were unimpressed by this point) and were told we would not be charged for the starters. That was something at least.
Our first dish arrived on our table over an hour after we'd stepped foot through the door. At one point, I'd considered whether we should just walk out.
The waiter had to pull up the table next to us - as we would have struggled to fit the mountain of food onto our table-of-two all at once.
But finally we had food on our table, we were actually being waited on and it did look delicious.
The portion sizes were generous too - but we'd definitely over-ordered.
Having tried saganaki cheese several years ago, I knew it would be a solid addition to the sharing starters.
In Greek cuisine, saganaki refers to a dish fried in a small pan, and in this case was a block of halloumi-style cheese fried until crispy.
Served with salad and lemon, the saltiness works incredibly with the tang of tzatziki, and was as good as any saganaki cheese I had eaten before.
Scanning the starters menu for more dishes to add, I was looking for spanakopita – a traditional dish of spinach and feta encased in flaky filo pastry.
Usually, a large pie is made and then cut into slices, but at The Aegean the “spinach pies” were served individually with three pieces akin to samosas.
Again, a fool-proof addition to any meze, but for my taste there was too much filo to filling ratio, and while the taste was still authentic, I do prefer the slices of spanakopita.
The tzatziki – a dip of yoghurt, cucumber and garlic - was tangy, creamy and garlicky, and was exceptional spread on the accompanying flatbread as well as all the other dishes.
A restaurant can always be judged on the freshness of its produce and knowledge of the chefs through its calamari.
I’ve been eating deep fried squid rings since I can remember, usually gorging on them on a Spanish beach or harbourside.
A plate full of these crispy and golden rings arrived, with a side salad, lemon and pot of aioli.
After the mandatory squeeze of lemon, I tentatively bit into the first piece, waiting to see if it was melt in the mouth or the resemblance of a leather shoe.
Thankfully it was the former, with a perfect crunch on the outside.
While the squid was well cooked and incredibly moreish, I did note a lack of tentacles, which when fried up are the best part.
I have two schools of thought as to why restaurants omit these gems: the squid is bought pre-prepared cut into rings, or there are fears customers wouldn’t appreciate them on the plate.
The calamari scored high marks in my book thanks to the succulence and crunch, but extra points would have been awarded if fried tentacles had made it onto the dish.
The chicken souvlaki - chicken grilled on skewers - is a classic so rightfully made it's way onto our mammoth order too. A colossus heap of thinly cut chips were accompanied by two tasty skewers, fresh salad and refreshing coleslaw. I initially failed to spot the soft pita sitting beneath it. If you're a fan of the gyros, then this, although not to be confused with, is perhaps the one for you.
We also plumped for a large Greek salad to accompany our mains but definitely did not need it.
So with a reduced bill and an unexpected apology from the chef himself for the starters/main arrival mix-up, our bill arrived lighter than we'd anticipated at £44.40.
While the food was faultless, the service was underwhelming and, if I'm honest, a little stressful.