If you’re on the hunt for authentic Greek food that is tasty and exceptional value then Artemis is the place for you, writes Dave Lee.

Artemis, Hull
Drink selection80%
95%Overall Score
Reader Rating: (17 Votes)

A year and a bit ago, I reviewed The Greek in Hull’s Avenues area and – at the end of my glowing write-up – I warned that anyone thinking of visiting should go sharpish as the excellent but cheap restaurant couldn’t continue to do what they were doing for long. Commercial pressures, I opined, would mean they’d eventually have to charge more or reduce quality.
A few months later (after the restaurant had opened a second branch and gone noticeably downhill) I bumped in to Yiannis Makris – The Greek’s magnificently enthusiastic MC – and he greeted me as he would a visionary or prophet. “That review you write’ he said in his robust half-Greek, half-Hull accent, ‘‘it was so right. So perfectly right. Amazing.’’ For it had indeed proven impossible to continue doing what they were at The Greek and he and wife Mata (who does all the cooking) had moved on and were looking for new premises. My prediction had proven correct within seven short months and I applied to change my name to Nostradamus.
The Greek, I should point out, carries on as before but what made it great – Yiannis and Mata – have now opened their own excellent but cheap restaurant in the centre of Hull. It’s called Artemis Greek Taverna and it is glorious. It’s authentic and inexpensive and there is an insanely friendly buzz in the air. Since they opened a couple of weeks ago, I’ve never seen it anything but jam-packed and I’ve never seen a customer not chomping merrily or proselytising wildly or smiling at the bill.

Beef meatball in tomato sauce

If you are in a position to do so, I would recommend you don’t order from the menu at Artemis. I’d suggest you tell Yiannis what you’re in the mood for and let him start bringing dishes. Some of the food will be familiar, some of it will be less so as it derives either from traditional home recipes or has been entirely invented by Mata. I asked Yiannis for ‘‘that thing with the pork and celery’’ and he knew exactly what I meant.
Another dish made of potatoes, peppers, celery, leeks and aubergine with herbs in a tomato sauce, served with a chunk of feta on the side, is simply called ‘‘Veggie Heaven’’ because it was invented that morning and needed a name that would fit on the specials board.
Keftedes (a meatball the size of your fist) arrives, all juicy and beefy and herby and light. Gigades (giant baked beans with carrots and herbs in a rich tomato sauce) is best enjoyed balanced on the corner of a chunk of olive bread. Saganaki is pan fried goats cheese which sits like an unpromising lump on the plate but squeeze a lemon on it and each forkful proves extraordinary.
And on it goes. A delicious potato salad built of jersey royals, onions, carrot and herbs cooked and sliced in a way that you can never replicate at home. Skordalia, a garlic dip of Mata’s own invention that sits on pitta bread like a zingy cottage cheese. A crispy filo parcel filled with spinach and feta called Spanakopita that is so good you want to sell your house and donate the proceeds to goat farmers. I could continue. Souvlaki (skewers of halloumi or marinated pork or chicken) grilled so that they have that charcoal taste that evokes lunch in a Mediterranean beach bar. Filo parcels filled with feta, deep fried and served with honey and sesame. Dish after dish of simple, wholesome magnificence. And we’ve not even reached puds yet.

Apple cake

A chocolate cake without a name as it’s just what Mata has always made and is just called chocolate cake. An apple cake that’s like a cross between shortbread and apple pie. The truly superb yiaourti me meli, which is nothing but yogurt, walnuts, honey and a shake of cinnamon. It looks and sounds entirely unpromising but is one of the best desserts I’ve ever had.
Most dishes at Artemis cost – get this – between a couple of quid and six or seven quid. Some (platters of meat or fish) are a little more (£10 to £15) but every single one is worth more than it costs.
This time, there’s no need for me to warn you to visit before things change as Yiannis and Mata seem delighted with their new establishment. The only problem you may now have is getting a table as seats are few and demand is already sky high.
Artemis, 32 Albion Street, Hull,
HU1 3TE. Tel: 01482 228065. Open: 11.30 to 9.30 every day except Monday.

About The Author

Dave Lee is TV producer and film-maker who also writes on food & drink, travel and culture for various publications. He is a regular contributor on BBC Radio 4 and the Yorkshire Post. Worryingly, he believes that the finest food on earth is the pattie butty.

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