In the final month of the year, as pavements freeze over and nights grow ever longer, it’s difficult to imagine many similarities between Scotland and the sun-soaked streets of Greece. 

But the owner of a newly established Greek restaurant in Edinburgh’s new town says it’s a shared reverence for culture, conversation and, most importantly, food that reminds him of a childhood spent in Athens. 

The Herald: Pictured: Konstantinos Karvelis - owner of Kuzina in EdinburghPictured: Konstantinos Karvelis - owner of Kuzina in Edinburgh (Image: supplied)

“I moved to Scotland just not long before the first Covid lockdown,” Konstantinos Karvelis, the owner of Kuzina said. 

“I worked as an actor in Greece for 15 years, but it’s very difficult for someone who comes from a different country to find a job in the sector here. 

“Hospitality allows me to express myself in the same way that acting does, and so I invested all of my love and my passion into developing a plan for Kuzina.” 

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The Herald:

A lifelong love for food and the beginnings of an idea for a restaurant that would challenge any misconceptions about Greek cuisine fuelled Mr Kravelis's search for the perfect unit in Scotland's capital city.

But making this new dream a reality would take time.

After settling on a Howe Street space, next came a lengthy refurbishment process that included completely stripping the floors, and replacing furnishings with green velvet-lined seats and sparkling chandeliers that were in line with his vision for the eatery.

Promising to take diners “on a journey to explore Greek food like never before”, Kuzina opened this spring with a menu that goes well beyond the ubiquitous gyros, halloumi and souvlaki that grace the tables of Grecian-inspired tavernas across the country. 

The Herald: Pictured: Dishes at Kuzina take inspiration from Mr Karvelis childhood in AthensPictured: Dishes at Kuzina take inspiration from Mr Karvelis childhood in Athens (Image: Supplied)

“It’s a pity that Greek cuisine is usually thought of as just street food," Mr Karvelis continued.

“An additional challenge for me is to present our food creatively and show people how it can be innovative when using the best ingredients available locally. 

“This well in Scotland, because there is such high-quality local produce to take advantage of whether that’s the meat, fish or fresh vegetables on our menu.” 

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Marrying the best of ingredients from both countries, meat from Gilmours Butchers and fish from Lowries is celebrated just as proudly as wild oregano from the mountain of Taygetos and feta from the village of Elliniko at Kuzina. 

From Lamb giouvetsi with braised lamb shoulder and a wild fennel and tomato orzo to a sweet pistachio ekmek kataifi to finish, many of their dishes are likely to be a welcome first-time experience for anyone who has never journeyed to Greece.

The Herald: Pictured: Konstantinos Karvelis with head chef Konstantinos SakellariouPictured: Konstantinos Karvelis with head chef Konstantinos Sakellariou (Image: Supplied)

And while he is reluctant to refer to his restaurant as a 'fine dining' spot, Mr Karvelis speaks confidently of the high standards upheld by chefs Dimitris Dimitriadis and Konstantinos Sakellariou which make for an ‘elevated dining experience’. 

He said: “When we see food as an experience, that is where the crucial artistic element comes in. 

“Enjoying a good meal is one of the fundamental joys of life, but it is just as important to create a memorable dining experience. 

“For Greeks, cooking is a means of communicating and achieving a place in someone’s heart. 

“I want people to come in and feel like they are a part of the family here.” 

The Herald: Pictured: Sourdough loaves are baked fresh each day at the restaurantPictured: Sourdough loaves are baked fresh each day at the restaurant (Image: Supplied)READ MORE: Michelin star chef launches new restaurant with £7,500 membership

Less than a year since opening, glowing feedback and favourable reviews prove that Edinburgh has embraced a concept that was first born from an actor's need to pursue a creative outlet. 

Asked why he believes this might be the case, Mr Karvelis replied: “There is a strong link between art and what we are trying to achieve at the restaurant.  

“If a customer knows that someone has thoughtfully designed every aspect of their experience, then it will help them to feel more deeply in the same way that art does. 

“Sitting around a table also brings people together and allows us to celebrate our ideas or share emotions.  

“I find that Scottish people are very open to this because they live 100% authentically, just as an artist needs to.” 

Kuzina is located at 18 Howe Street in Edinburgh. 

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