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We review Greek taverna Kypséli in Cranbrook


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In Greek mythology Thessalian King Erysichthon was cursed with insatiable hunger as punishment for cutting down a sacred tree.

No matter how much he consumed he would never feel satisfied to the point where the spiralling cost of his binging meant he literally ate himself out of house and home. Eventually he ate himself.

Kypséli in Cranbrook
Kypséli in Cranbrook

Thousands of years later I found myself in a Greek taverna deep in the weald of Kent.

I've never cut down a tree and wasn't even particularly hungry but decided I'd impersonate the ancient royal anyway and order two lunches.

Since opening on Valentine's Day, Kypséli – Greek for hive – has promised "a taste of Corfu in Cranbrook".

It's bright and breezy and certainly looks the part with mosaic plates, a Greek lute, big pictures of terracotta-coloured homes and a huge can of olive oil priced at £40!

The menus are bits of paper stapled together which immediately suggests the food will be either very good or very bad.

The inside of Kypséli in Cranbrook
The inside of Kypséli in Cranbrook

On the table is a little Greek trivia quiz, which is a nice touch. Ed Sheeran is playing, which is a shame.

There's a £20 sharer option of cold mezze perfect for lunch. We got that.

There's also a yeeros wrap (£8.95) crammed full of pork, chicken or both (there's a courgette option too), chips and tomato and slathered in tzatziki. I got that too.

The woman who sat opposite me and claimed to be my partner opted for the decidedly more elegant courgette and feta balls with tzatziki (£5.95).

Trivia quizzes on the place mats
Trivia quizzes on the place mats

Straight off the bat mistakes have been made. We got too much.

This is obviously no one else's fault but can be blamed on a mixture of excitement and me wanting to do a thorough job.

The second thing to note at this point is the abundance of tzatziki, while no bad thing, felt wasted.

We'd initially opted for the fava bean dip which I had been assured would likely be very good but sadly there was none so a big pot of tzatziki took its place.

The aubergine and cheese mash with beef stew sounded great but sadly was also unavailable.

These are minor issues.

A bottle of mythos lager (£3.80) – the most popular drop in the building, according to the menu – a cappuccino (£2.80) and coke (both not Greek) were ordered and we were ready to go.

Mythos lager for £3.80
Mythos lager for £3.80

For some reason we'd asked for it to all come out together which meant there was a fairly chunky wait.

If you're looking for a quick bite the cold mezze with a load of Ionian pitas is good and presumably will appear quick as a flash.

While we waited, Ed Sheeran's distant tones were rudely interrupted by a loud smash and I briefly thought we were being treated to some authentic Mediterranean entertainment.

Instead a member of staff had dropped a glass and did the thing where you throw your hands up almost like you meant it.

A well-spoken customer told her "not to worry at all dear" and a Henry Hoover was ceremoniously carried through the front door to clean up.

Once the fun was over I took the chance to explore. I'm pleased to report - à la Secret Drinker - that the toilet (an outdoor unisex cubicle) was clean and smelt fresh and the terrace dining area next to it made the most of the space.

The terrace area at Kypséli
The terrace area at Kypséli

We'd ordered hummous, fat olives stuffed with almonds, feta and (due to availability) tzatziki.

The olives were the highlight and the Ionian pitas were also very good. The hummous and the tzatziki were both fresh and tasty but the feta was perhaps a misstep. It's a claggy dish which could have been spiced up a bit.

But it's a good amount of food and for £20 for two in Cranbrook is a decently priced lunch.

A spread fit for a mythical King
A spread fit for a mythical King
The mezze selection
The mezze selection

The yeeros and courgette balls stole the show.

The pork was crispy and not too salty, the pita fluffy and the chips the right sort of soggy. All the flavours complimented each other and best of all it felt far healthier than it probably was.

The courgette and feta balls were moreish and the portion was decent. On a scale of expectation versus reality they scored highly.

The courgette and feta balls
The courgette and feta balls
The pork yeeros
The pork yeeros
The pork yeeros
The pork yeeros

While I might have backed myself as a modern-day Erysichthon I regret to report my appetite did wane and the last few shovels of hummous were a challenge.

That's probably lucky as the next logical step would have been self-cannibalism.

I dragged my bloated body past the shelves of delicious-looking baklava, walnut pie and local ice cream and slouched from the taverna into sunny Cranbrook.

Due to time micropub Larkins' Alehouse was bypassed but with a huge free car park smack bang in the centre of town we'll be coming back for a cider and the left-behind baklava.

The centre of Cranbrook
The centre of Cranbrook
Free parking in Cranbrook
Free parking in Cranbrook

Out of five:

Food: The yeeros and courgette balls were really good and the mezze selection was OK too ***1/2

Drink: You can't really go wrong with European lager and the Mythos was no exception. A 330ml bottle was £3.80 and to my dying day I will campaign for cheaper beer in restaurants but the price here was relatively reasonable ***

Decor: It's definitely Greek themed and there were nice touches all over the place. This may be harsh but a better and more authentic playlist may have resulted in the full five stars ****

Staff: The woman who served us apologetically confessed it was her first week after getting the order slightly confused but there was really no need – she was friendly and helpful ****

Price: £47.70 for a big meal for two is not unreasonable and if we hadn't ordered double what normal people would we could have had lunch and drinks for about £13.50 each. It's certainly not extortionate but there are cheaper places ***

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