Zorba The Greek Taverna by 1-Group brings an authentic Hellenic gastronomic experience to the Singapore riverside at Clarke Quay.
Greek restaurants, unlike its Spanish or Italian cousins, aren’t as proliferate in Singapore. For a country that so loves its food there’s but a bare handful of eateries specialising in Greek cuisine here. There’s Blu Kouzina at Dempsey, Bakalaki Greek Taverna in Tiong Bahru, and Alati along Amoy Street; that’s about all we can name. Well, add one more to that list – Zorba The Greek Taverna.
Zorba The Greek Taverna, opened by the 1-Group in front of The Riverhouse at Clarke Quay, is an outdoor riverside restaurant serving classic Greek dishes with as much authenticity as it can muster i.e. sourcing as many traditional ingredients direct from suppliers in Greece as much as possible.
You can’t run a Greek restaurant without serving up a range of mezes to go with your pita, and Zorba’s head chef Dordo Cetkovic duly delivers. Expect your typical Tzatziki ($12++), Hummus ($12++), and Taramasalata ($14++), for sure. But there’s also the less common spicy cheese dip that is Tirokafteri ($12++), or the creamy eggplant-based Melitzanosalata ($12++). Or you can do yourself a big favour by ordering the Dips Platter ($28++) which comes with all five.
As for other appetisers, we recommend the Spanakopita ($16++); the spinach- and cheese-filled filo parcels here are delicate and crisp and won’t weigh your palate down. Also possessing of a lighter touch is the Greek Moussaka ($22++), with layers of zucchini and potato helping to cut through the usual heaviness of the baked eggplant and minced beef dish. For something really light, you can’t go wrong with the Zorba Salad ($16++). But somehow we can’t help but think the minced menagerie of cucumber, tomato, onion and capsicum tastes like the sort of punishment one puts themselves through the day after gorging at an all-day buffet.
Conspicuously missing from Zorba’s menu though, is the classic dolmades, or stuffed grape leaves.
For mains, it’s too easy to point out the Mixed Grill Platter ($88++, serves 2-3 pax), a competently composed meat basket of lamb chops, souvlaki, pork gyros and bifteki, but it’s the Lamb Kleftiko ($36++) that’s truly impressive here. The tender lamb will remind you of that from a proper dum biryani, slow-cooked as it is to become melt-in-your-mouth and absent of gaminess.
Pescatarians are likely to enjoy themselves here too. The Tsipoura ($32++) of grilled sea bream is a little small but comes bursting full of freshness, while the Htapothi Sti Skhara ($30++) – grilled octopus – can give the pulpo at the best Spanish restaurants here a run for their money. The Garides Saganaki ($28++) of jumbo prawns covered in a tomato-based sauce came highly recommended, but while the prawns were big and fresh we’re not quite sure that the flavours worked with the crushed feta it came with.
The dessert of Greek Baklava ($12++) is also on the lighter side – especially when compared to its counterparts from Asia Minor – and so good we couldn’t help taking home another portion.
What possibly lets Zorba down is its piddly wine list – it’s just three whites and three reds from Katogi Averoff in northern Greece. We know it’s not really their fault; there just aren’t many Greek wines carried by distributors here in Singapore. At least there’s your Katogi Averoff Inima Athiri Assyrtiko ($72++ per bottle) for those who want to try that indigenous Greek white grape varietal, and the Katogi Averoff Inima Xinomavro ($76++ per bottle) for its red grape counterpart. That said, in our opinion a proper Greek meal isn’t quite complete without a Santorini vinsanto to complement that very lovely baklava.
Now we’re guessing that the name for Zorba The Greek Taverna most likely was inspired by the novel Zorba The Greek, which was published in 1946 and then later adapted into a successful film and also a musical. The story is a little bit of a Greek tragedy, but we can assure you – Zorba The Greek Taverna is nothing but. It just needs more wine on its wine list to complete the Hellenic experience.
Zorba The Greek Taverna
Address 5 Duxton Hill, Singapore 089591 (Google Maps link)
Opening Hours 6pm to 12am on Mondays to Sundays; closed on Sundays
Tel (65) 8558 1704