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Top critics give Crouch End’s Kalimera the thumbs-up

A restaurant which caught the attention of food critics Giles Coren and William Sitwell is cooking up a storm in Crouch End.

Kalimera was founded by food entrepreneur Télémaque Argyriou, who grew up in Athens. The restaurant serves olives and olive oil fresh from his family’s groves and recipes inspired by his grandmother’s cooking.

Télémaque gave up a good career in asset management put all his energy into the new venture. He started seven years ago by converting an old Ocado van into a food truck and served his Greek dishes at local markets. 18 months ago, he opened the restaurant in Crouch End.

He said: “Starting the business was a huge leap to make but you need to be a bit unconscious sometimes – it helps not to have the full picture! Until that point, I had only been cooking for friends and family – bringing it to a wider crowd requires different skills and I learnt them all as I went. It was a leap of faith but seeing the reviews in The Times, the Telegraph and The Week and seeing how happy our customers are makes it all worthwhile.”

Writing in the Telegraph, William Sitwell described Kalimera’s moussaka as “The perfect example.” He added: “It had a lovely herby taste, with hints of oregano and cinnamon, so much so I could almost hear the cicadas!”

Giles Coren described his meal at Kalimera as: “one of my best Mediterranean dining experiences of a long summer.”

Télémaque grew up in Athens then moved to France to study law.

He added: “As a child, Athens felt like a remote corner of Europe – very provincial. We ate food that was always close to the original flavours; good wholesome and fresh. The tavernas had the friendliest service and great music. When I left, I felt very nostalgic and realised how eating in a Greek taverna is like being transported into a different world.

“I missed Greek food and my grandmother’s food in particular. I told her I wanted to cook for my friends and she taught me how to make each dish – starting with moussaka. Some of the dishes I made succeeded, others didn’t. With Greek food it is all about simplicity; you let the flavours take over.

“My grandmother and I never had a cooking session side by side but she was a wonderful teacher.”

Telemaque with his grandmother

Inside Kalimera

His signature dish is moussaka; cooked to his own perfected recipe, he lets the meat cook on a low heat for four hours to let the flavours infuse.

Local Buyers Club members save 20% at Kalimera, when booking their table online (info here). The restaurant is open Tuesday - Saturday 5.30pm - 11pm. Takeaway between 5.30pm and 7pm. Kalimera also has branches in Paris near the Bastille and in Lille.

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