Dining with El Greco

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Giant beans.
Giant beans.

The famous Greek painter El Greco’s birth name was Doménikos Theotokópoulos. You can see why he didn’t use it in normal conversation, though he did sign his paintings with his full name. Paintings, that’s OK, but there is no way you could call your Greek restaurant anything other than El Greco.

Our El Greco in Pattaya is run by husband and wife Nick and Angel, a couple who ran two Greek restaurants in Athens and who came to Thailand to sniff out investment opportunities. There weren’t any, but there was also no Greek restaurants and with the Thai climate being better than Athens they decided to set up here in Pattaya.

Angel out of her kitchen.
Angel out of her kitchen.

The double shophouse is rather difficult to find but it is in Soi Bon Koch (AKA Soi Bong Kot), about 50 meters from the old Eurostar hotel end, not the Thepprasit end. The website has the map, but turn off Sai 3 behind Cherry’s Restaurant then follow the road for about 50 meters and turn right in Soi Bong Koch where El Greco is on your left. Refer to the map in the website www.elgreco-pattaya.com.

In national colors of white and blue, El Greco exudes a fairly rustic air, but the blue padded chairs are remarkably comfy. Everything is clean and toilets are spotless. One wall has a large mural of Santorini, a picture that exudes Greece.

Angel is in charge of the kitchen and says, “Our menus are carefully created to offer only the most inspired and delicious meals with the Mediterranean touch and flavors. Traditional Greek recipes using olive oil, feta cheese, and many other fresh ingredients. Mousaka, Greek salad, falafel, souvlaki, lamb and many other dishes.”

The menu is quite large and very detailed, and each dish has a thumbnail illustration, which is so important with ethnic menus in particular. There are many small portions of the larger ones if you wish.

Chicken dishes are B. 110-240, Pastas B. 140-240, Giant beans B. 190, Souvlaki (chicken and pork) B. 220, Mousaka B. 230 for the large portion, most salads around B. 220. There are also Mediterranean items and some Thai favorites. On top of that there are a couple of pages of Vegan food as well.

Liquid refreshments covers Ouzo at B. 80 for 50 ml, wines B. 70 or a 500 ml jug for B. 190, whiskies and vodka are B. 90. El Greco is obviously very inexpensive.

We began with an ‘amuse bouche’ in Greek – a Tzatziki with yoghurt as a welcome. A very enjoyable entry to Greek cuisine.

Following that we had a Mousaka, which in many ways is like an Italian lasagna, though the layers start with potato and we also dined on spinach pies, which were excellent. As Nick said, “A Greek lady cooks in the Greek way.”

Greek salad with feta cheese.
Greek salad with feta cheese.

We also had as a side, the Greek salad which came with a large piece of real feta cheese on top. I found this salad very pleasant and the feta was the best I have tasted recently.

There was one dish which had large green peppers with Tzatziki. This was spicy as you can imagine being based on the peppers.

We sat back at this point as we were both too full, but it became apparent that we were not going to be allowed to leave without sampling the baklava, which Madame soon scoffed!

It had been a wonderful Greek evening, and a very polished Ouzo was the end of the night for me. There are many different ouzos, and this one was just so mellow, it was very hard to turn down the offered second glass. But with the police patrols on the Dark Side, just not worth the risk. An inexpensive evening and most enjoyable. Well worth finding.

El Greco, 327/331 Soi Bongkot Moo 9, Pattaya, open 12 noon to 1130 p.m. open seven days, on street parking, telephone +66(0)38 422 035 or mobile + 66(0) 92467 9123, email [email protected], www.elgreco-pattaya.com.