Lincolnshire Echo - Thursday May 6th 2010.
Food Monster: Gabby's Greek Restaurant, Lincoln

As Mrs FM was in a fun dining mood and The Boy appeared to be at a loose end, we decided en famille to head downtown and partake of some of the city’s epicurean delights. Without a particular plan in mind, as we drove down Lincoln’s High Street, the available space immediately in front of Gabby’s seemed to beckon the charabanc to park there.

My initial concerns about Mrs FM taking to plate-smashing all over again came to nought, as she was more than willing to go Greek for the evening and the lad agreed that, since we last visited the premises, three years ago, the time had come to see if standards had slipped. We were greeted warmly by Gabby, who led us from the narrow entrance to a table close to the servery.

You need not seek fine dining in this place but it does possess a satisfying honesty and is impeccably clean. The simple menu remains as it has always been and Mrs FM and me decided to share a mini mez, which consists of a selection of Greek dips and delicacies, while The Boy would try the keftedes (meatballs), as starters. As it is rare for us to share a table these days, ordering a bottle of full-bodied Greek Rotonda red allowed me to enjoy a small tipple.

After several minutes, the starters were delivered to the table, with Gabby’s customary flourish. The meatballs were truly splendid, the heat of the spiced lamb contrasting with the chill of fresh salad. The Boy enjoyed it immensely.

Our mini mez was served on a large platter segmented into taramasalata (pink cod roe), houmous (chickpeas, sesame seeds and olive oil ground into a paste), couscous (cracked bulgar wheat, mixed with oven roasted peppers, tomato and sultanas), tsatziki (yogurt, chive and mint dip), potatosalata (as it sounds, potato salad, Greek-style), a couple of chunks of grilled halloumi cheese and two slices of lountza smoked ham, accompanied by mixed salad and a basket of warm pitta bread slices.

Although Gabby was typically over-generous with her portions (Lord alone knows how she can make any profit!), our starters were almost too filling, so do take care when you order your meal (the mini mez would be enough of a starter for three people). Fortunately, our mains were in the process of being cooked, so we were able to take our time and enjoy the different consistencies and flavours, while nattering away contentedly and, because this is a Greek restaurant, quite animatedly. In due course, the table was cleared. In true form, Gabby showed her humorous displeasure, should her diners fail to polish off the contents of their plates. Tolerate it, it is part of the fun experience.

The Boy’s kleftico spiticio, which is effectively a slow-cooked lamb shoulder, served on the bone and placed on a bed of rice, was so tender that the lightly herbed flesh simply fell off the bone, with the first application of a knife. He allowed me to sample it and I can tell you that it was succulent and very flavoursome.

Mrs FM’s twin rainbow trout, also served on a bed of rice, accompanied by roast potatoes, wild mushrooms and a side salad, looked superb. As she cut into the descaled skin, it lifted readily, allowing her to pick the flesh easily from the bones. They tasted as if they had been caught that morning, a factor which I knew not to be the case but they had certainly not been stored in the freezer for very long. The rice, mushrooms and potatoes were perfectly cooked and delicious.

My beef stifado was outstandingly tender and exceptionally tasty, in its rich tomato and herbed sauce, accompanied by more potatoes and rice.

There is absolutely no doubting the quality of the raw produce. Truth was, we all struggled to finish our mains, although it is fair to state that we enjoyed the meal immensely thus far and, for the sake of checking out the broader menu for your benefit, after Gabby’s mild remonstration, a bowl of the stunning Greek yogurt and acacia honey was put in front of me, while Madame tried the deep fried ice-cream (like baked Alaska, the frozen vanilla dessert is contained within a contrasting encasement, albeit of batter and not meringue) and The Boy partook of baklava (a chou pastry multi-layered with crushed hazelnuts and drenched in honey) for the first time.

We finished our meal in a more than satisfied state, the lad and his mother polishing off the wine between them, as I settled the bill. I was grateful that we were not forced to walk further to the car, as Gabby proved once again that her generous hospitality and great food are tremendous fillers. Fortunately, the china survived on this occasion too.

FINAL BILL: Mini mez – £7.25; keftedes – £4.45; kleftico spiticio – £10.95; beef stifado – £9.50; rainbow trout – £9.00; yogurt & honey – £3.50; fried ice-cream – £3.50; baklava – £3.50; bottle of Rotonda wine – £13.50.

TOTAL: £65.15.

FINAL VERDICT: An authentic flavour of Greece on Lincoln’s doorstep in cosy surroundings.