Review: Artemis & Apollo is a classy Greek taverna dishing out excellent Mediterranean mezes and spit-fire roasted meats

Photo: Artemis & Apollo, via Black Sheep Restaurants
Photo: Artemis & Apollo, via Black Sheep Restaurants

After 10 minutes of walking up and down the same street, checking Google Maps with increasing levels of anxiety, followed by a more-arduous-than-usual climb up a flight of stairs — we made it. We reached the top of Mount Olympus.

Actually, we reached the new Greek restaurant Artemis & Apollo, the exterior of which is that calming, off-white shade of Greek temple (at least, the Greek temples of Hollywood period dramas), that’s perched atop Moon Street near Wan Chai station.

The restaurant, named after the twin children of Zeus, opened near the end of last year, with the intention of bringing a taste of Greece’s tavernas to Hong Kong. It’s currently only open for dinner, but we were told that they’re also planning on opening for lunch too, in the near future.

We got in, sat down in a very darkly lit room — so dark that we wondered whether there was a lighting malfunction going on — but, no, it’s just part of the ambience. Eyes adjusted to the darkness, we began on a platter of starters (or mezes, as they’re known in Greece) — hummus (HK$48), tzatziki (HK$38), and roasted eggplant dip (HK$48) served with vegetable crudite (HK$58) and warm pita bread (HK$28).

Things got off to a really promising start with the hummus — a blend of Greek tahini, chickpeas and garlic — which was, truly, dangerously good (and we don’t use that phrase lightly). It was nicely flavored, with an intensely satisfying kick of savory garlic.

Aside from the hummus, we enjoyed the smoky, earthy roasted eggplant dip, and the tzatziki — a smoothly tart yogurt dip blended with fresh cucumbers, garlic, salt, olive oil, and sometimes, also, with a bit of vinegar or lemon juice and herbs. It was a nice, refreshing counterbalance to the garlicky hummus.

Artemis & Apollo's Sagnaki Platanos. Photo by Vicky Wong.
Artemis & Apollo’s Sagnaki Platanos. Photo: Vicky Wong

We then moved on to the hot dishes, with one of the restaurant’s most popular offerings: the Saganaki Platanos (HK$98), which arrived at our table on a sizzling hotplate. The base of the dish is kefalograviera, a hard Greek cheese made with both sheep and goat’s milk, sliced and pan-fried, then topped with candied apricots, Mediterranean honey, oregano, and thyme.

After waiting for the cheese to cool down a bit, we took a bite, and, frankly … it was mind-blowing. The sticky apricots and honey added a nice bit of sweetness to balance out the umami of the cheese. This is the kind of dish that needs to be eaten almost immediately — there’s nothing more depressing than eating cold and oily melted cheese.

Next up, the Artemis & Apollo’s Spanakopita (HK$78), a spinach and feta pie encased in a crispy phyllo pastry. We really liked the filling of this pie, although we must admit, we were a tad bit disappointed with the pastry. Notwithstanding the satisfying crunch sound that erupts after cutting through it with a knife, we did find the texture a bit dry, and had to take a few sips of water in between bites to get it all down smoothly.

Artemis & Apollo's Greek Village Salad. Photo by Vicky Wong.
Artemis & Apollo’s Greek Village Salad. Photo: Vicky Wong

But in between bites of the spinach and feta pie, we also had mouthfuls of the restaurant’s Greek Village Salad (HK$168): salad leaves tossed with olives, tomatoes, rustic brown bread croutons, and olive oil. It captures all the greatest things about Mediterranean cuisine: great-tasting, high quality base ingredients that balance each other out beautifully.

A good sharing dish for the table if you’re with a few friends is the calamaraki (HK$78), calamari that has been soaked in a yogurt marinade to tenderize it, and then deep-fried in a light batter, and served on a table to be drizzled with a wedge of lemon.

We really liked the flavors here, especially the added sharpness that the fresh lemon brings in, though we would have liked to see some chunkier cuts of calamari in there.

Artemis & Apollo's Calamaraki. Photo by Vicky Wong.
Artemis & Apollo’s Calamaraki. Photo: Vicky Wong

Another example of an expertly seasoned dish here is their souvlaki, or marinated meat that gets grilled on a skewer. Not too little, not too much — juuuust right with that seasoning. Apparently, the heart of Artemis & Apollo’s kitchen is the almond wood and charcoal fire they use to make most of their meat dishes, and that factor really comes through in the resulting flavor.

The restaurant serves pork and chicken souvlaki, though we only tried the pork (HK$88), which comes with a side pita bread that was brushed with olive oil, sprinkled with sea salt, and heated over a wood fire to give it a smoky and charred crust.

Artemis & Apollo's Pork Souvlaki. Photo by Vicky Wong.
Artemis & Apollo’s Pork Souvlaki. Photo: Vicky Wong

We finished off the meal with a slice of the restaurant’s cheesecake, which was topped with a sprinkling of pomegranate seeds. Bit of a cute Greek mythology reference there — the staff tells us that, having eaten these, we definitely wouldn’t be sent to the underworld like Persephone was.

The cheesecake had a nice, airy texture, and wasn’t too heavy on sugar, either — the pomegranate seeds, in fact, actually helped to bring out the cake’s sweetness.

Artemis & Apollo's cheesecake. Photo by Vicky Wong.
Artemis & Apollo’s cheesecake. Photo: Vicky Wong

In drinks, they’ve got plenty of booze-filled options — we went for the straightforward option, just a glass of white wine — plus, Ouzo 12 (HK$98 for a glass, HK$318 for a jug, HK$1,150 for a bottle), an anise liqueur that’s ubiquitous in Greece.

If you’re a fan of licorice, then we’d recommend pairing your meal with a glass or jug of ouzo, to really do it the way they would in a Greek taverna. With or without it, Artemis & Apollo definitely does deliver on the taverna experience, and we expect it’s about to land on every “best places for Mediterranean food” list in the city this year. It’s definitely on the list of places we’d go back to again.

 

FIND IT:
Artemis and Apollo is at G/F, 9 & 11 Moon Street, Wan Chai
Reservations: No reservations, walk-in only
Mon-Sun, 6pm to 11pm
MTR: Admiralty (approx. 5 minute walk)


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