A recent addition to the Harrogate independent dining out scene is putting the ‘family’ in family restaurant.
Not only does it specialise in catering to the family market but the owner of Papa’s Greek and Mediterranean restaurant on Station Bridge does everything the traditional family way, even living in the same building.
Olsi Papa first came to Britain 25 years ago but he’s never left behind the roots of his cooking and his life as a child on the coast at Nicopolis in the western part of Greece.
Olsi said: “I was raised on the shores of Greece. We always had a taverna with a house above. I was brought up on fresh food grown in the garden.
“We all eat here in my new restaurant together.”
Since it first opened its doors with its traditional Greek interiors in December, its chef Ilias Begias has already been receiving compliments from customers.
“People come in and ask for recipes. We’ve had a lot of support from families who say they like to support independents.”
Having gained years of experience on the franchise side of the food trade Olsi, 40, knew what he did - and didn’t - want when he decided to open his own eaterie since he ran his own taverna in Wakefield.
“I’ve known my chef since we were boys. He’s a very good friend and part of the family. I asked him to come across from Greece in time to launch the restaurant.
Everything on the meny at Papa’s sticks to Olsi’s homemade, family-orientated good food ethos.
Youngsters under-five eat for free but there is no special ‘kids’ menu, just the same fresh food for all.
Everything is cooked freshly on the premises, including the pitta bread and falafel, though it comes with a twist in the shape of courgettes and carrots.
Ingredients are sourced from local butchers and Harrogate’s (only) fishmongers - Ramus.
The result is a wide, reasonably-priced menu.
Among the starters are:
Oven-baked Saganki Cheese.
Kefte handmade herb meatballs.
The main courses include:
Paidaka chargrilled lamb ribs.
Chicken Skewers Soulvaki.
Gambas a la Plancha.
Alternatively, diners can also enjoy Papa’s in tapas style, dipping in and out from the ample sharing platters.
Sticking to traditional principles, lamb is the key signature dish at Papa’s cooked the traditional way.
Olsi said: “We have a chargrill at the back. We don’t really fry anything because it makes things oily. A chargrill drains the fat away and gives it a better flavour.”
Papa’s also has another secret to success. As happened in his childhood in Greece, it always marinates its meat overnight in olive oil.
Despite his ambitions, Olsi is determined not to get ahead of himself.
He said: “I want to grow and build the restaurant gradually. I’m not here to be a millionaire.”