IT’S probably right to say I don’t warm immediately to Plato when I roll up on an early Monday evening. There’s that sign for example. Right outside the front door. Plato, it announces pleasantly, with a little smiley logo and the slogan: Eat Greek Philosophy. And then right underneath in big shouty red letters it barks: Parking and Trespassing for any purpose is Strictly Prohibited. With an arrow pointing to next door’s car park.

Crikey. “Don’t ask,” the waitress will say later with a smile when I ask what that is all about. Small towns maybe.

Anyway, I know it’s Monday night and Monday night in the restaurant reviewers' game is the equivalent of playing Russian Roulette with a bullet in every chamber but the welcome’s not the warmest either. Unsmiling, a bit offhand I would say.

The waiter having indicated the mixed mezze is a meal in itself then manages to convey some sort of displeasure when I order the kleftiko too. I think I can kind of see where he is coming from. Restaurants go to all the trouble of putting on an early-week special at a reduced price (£13.95 for two courses) which makes life easier for everyone all round and especially the kitchen and then some guy comes in and orders from the a la carte menu.

The truth is I didn’t really fancy anything from that set section with its Greek haddock and chips (feta in the batter), chicken souvlaki and pastitsios. Though having ordered kleftiko I immediately think, how the hell are the chefs going to make a slow-cooked lamb in the next 30 minutes if they haven’t got them already sitting there? Answers on a postcard, please.

While you’re doing that I also order the chips with feta and oregano wondering if absolutely anything goes in the world of fries nowadays. This time the waiter who circles back to the table to write this extra order down keeps his thoughts to himself on how much food is coming my way.

Let’s tackle this Greek meze selection at £12 for four dishes. First thoughts? Not a huge portion, though it is a huge serving dish. A spectacular wooden board thing with little cut-outs for the dishes which somehow contrives to make the food look like a selection of chunky hors d'oeuvres. Flavours? I take a bite of the lamb koftes and it’s a pretty good meatball: rich, ever so slightly sweet, properly seasoned, well-seared and with the slightest whiff of spicing.

Two little mini milos cheese pies with a reasonably crispy, crimped shortcrust pastry and still-molten feta inside are popped down next. I’m pretty sure they sell these things in Lidl nowadays but that’s the globalisation demystification of the world food market for you.

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The dolmades I wouldn’t rush to have again being, well, bland without a hint of lemon or meat and the slim finger-sized slices of spinach pie are too chewy for me. Still, by now my kleftiko has arrived at the table brought by a cheery waitress who brightens up this too-early-in-the-week experience.

I’m not the only customer in Plato tonight, there’s a couple sitting over by the window and another leaving their seat near to the bar area but it’s definitely a slow evening.

That kleftiko then? Served in a big parcel of tinfoil and greaseproof paper, which I like, steam gushing as I peel the layers apart, chunks of lamb and big waxy potatoes inside, the smell of oregano rushing past me as I take up the first piece.

I don’t know how they did it but it’s good. The chefs, I’m told, are not Greek but largely Polish, maybe an Italian too, but the kleftiko is largely Greek, has peppers in it, though not fatal, and is definitely slow-cooked at some stage and not bad at all. Those feta chips? Hey, chips with feta crumbled over. A Scottish Greek pastiche perhaps. Bit like this.


27 Main St



Menu: Very crowded with all those Greek favourites including kleftiko, souvlaki plus a few less mainstream touches such as chips with feta and oregano. 3/5

Service: Good, smiley waitress countering less smiley waiter, bit mixed all round on a quiet Monday evening. 3/5

Atmosphere: The dead end of the week so not buzzing and not their fault. Pleasant enough rendition of a Greek restaurant in downtown Bothwell. 3/5

Price: Two courses for £13.95 Mon to Friday. I ordered the kleftiko at £16, which was good value. 4/5

Food: Decent enough neighbourhood restaurant with a reasonable kleftiko which is not easy to turn out on a queit Monday night. 6/10