Twitter Facebook RSS Feed
No Sacred Cows  
Toby Young
Friday 23rd May 2003


ES Magazine - 23rd May 2003

How do you define the perfect restaurant? For me, it would be a little neighbourhood place where the atmosphere is always good, the food is always great, and the prices aren't too high. I want a restaurant that I can just drop in to three or four times a week on the spur of the moment and be guaranteed a friendly welcome. In New York, where I lived for five years, I was lucky enough to find such a restaurant that was only one block from my apartment. It was called Tartine and when I left I wrote a love letter to the place that was published in the New York Press. I like to think it's still in the window to this day.

I haven't had any luck finding the equivalent of Tartine in Shepherd's Bush--and, believe me, I've looked. I'm a big fan of the Bush Bar & Grill, but it's too much of a "destination" restaurant to fit the bill. The kind of place I have in mind has to be a small, intimate affair. It can't announce itself to the world with any sort of fanfare. It has to just sit there, unobtrusively, waiting to be discovered. If I'm going to make it my own, I have to ferret it out for myself.

The solution may be to move to Bayswater. Halepi, a small, family-owned restaurant on Leinster Terrace, fits the bill to a tee. I can't claim to have discovered Halepi--it's the most famous Greek-Cypriot restaurant in London--but in all other respects it's perfect.

From the outside it looks like any other bog standard high street fast food joint--it even has the word "Kebabs" on the sign--and, once inside, the décor doesn't exactly inspire you with confidence. With its plastic ivy, fake beams and brass galleons hanging from the wall, I shouldn't think it's been redecorated since it opened in 1969. But in my book such an unprepossessing exterior is the perfect disguise for the ideal neighbourhood restaurant. Halepi may look like Clark Kent, but it doesn't take long for Superman to emerge from his telephone box in the kitchen.

To begin with, there's the Manager, Christos Matsas. He's short and hairy with a gruff manner--if he was one of the seven dwarves, he'd be Grumpy rather than Happy--yet beneath the impatient exterior there's a real warmth. His eyes twinkle with a mischievous charm, like a wicked uncle, yet he's the sort of man you'd have no hesitation entrusting your mother-in-law to. He has exactly the sort of face I wouldn't mind being greeted by three or four nights a week.

Then there's the atmosphere. The word "friendly" doesn't begin to do it justice. It's like sitting in the kitchen of an extremely large and hospitable Greek family. It's one of the few genuinely democratic restaurants in London. At one table you'll spot Richard Branson wining and dining Pamella Anderson--he brought her here to celebrate her endorsement of Virgin Cola--while at another you'll see a couple of painters and decorators. If there's no table available, don't worry. Christos will send you across the street to the Leinster Arms. It's a testimony to how popular Halepi is that on weeknights you can always find half a dozen people waiting patiently at the bar.

Finally, there's the food. Now I'm not a particular fan of Greek-Cypriot cuisine--Pedigree Chum on a stick, anyone?--but Halepi makes the best of the limited resources available to it. The taramasalata was the creamiest I've ever had, while the kleftiko lamb was slow cooked to perfection. Even the Dover Sole, hardly a dish you'd expect them to get right, was first rate, right up there with the River Café.

There's no question about it: Halepi is the perfect neighbourhood restaurant. Now all I have to do is move to Bayswater. Anyone want to buy a house in Shepherd's Bush?

[ FIXED LINK ] Bookmark and Share

Twitter Free schools top the league tables – again link  (1 hour ago)


The shocking truth about Jordan Peterson by Wesley Yang -
The intellectual dark web by Bari Weiss -
How identity politics is harming the sciences by Heather Mac Donald -
The fall of the German Empire by Ross Douthat -
How Tom Wolfe became Tom Wolfe by Michael Lewis - Vanity Fair
The neuro-diversity case for free speech by Geoffrey Miller -
The Age of Outrage by Jonathan Haidt -
The Warlock Hunt by Claire Berlinski -
Is classical liberalism conservative? by Yarom Hazony -
The Implosion of Western Liberalism by Patrick Lee Miller -
The Eton of the East End - Daily Mail
The reactionary temptation by Andrew Sullivan -
The book that scandalised New York intellectuals by Louis Menand -
To understand Britain today, look to the 17th Century by Adrian Wooldridge -
The crisis in France by Christopher Caldwell -
A Visit to Michaela School by Patrick Alexander -
Why parenting may not matter by Brian Boutwell -
Trump Establishment's Cultural Significance Explained by Michael Wolff -
Branching histories of the 2016 referendum by Dominic Cummings -
Putin's Real Long Game by Molly K McKew -
The Flight 93 Election by Publius Decius Mus -
How the education gap is tearing politics apart by David Runciman -
What's wrong with identity politics by Graeme Archer -
Grammars and the grain of truth by Jonathan Porter
Anti-Brexit: Britain's new class war by John O'Sullivan -
The English Revolt by Robert Tombs -
Democracies end when they are too democratic by Andrew Sullivan -
Human beings really are making progress by Steven Pinker -
What ISIS really wants by Graeme Wood -
A society ripe for Submission by Douglas Murray -
Why I'm a Conservative Teacher by Jonathan Porter -
Corbyn's Inconvenient Truth – He wanted the IRA to win -
Why I've become Tory scum by Tony Parsons -
Inside Westminster's free school -
Robert Conquest obit -
Jeremy Corbyn is not an anti-Semite – it's so much worse than that -


Andrew Lilico
Andrew Sullivan
Arts and Letters Daily
Bagehot's Notebook
BBC News
BBC Sport
Benedict Brogan
Brendan O'Neill
Bruce Anderson
Coffee House
Conservative Home
Damian McBride
Damian Thompson
Dan Hodges
Daniel Hannon
Ed West
Frank Furedi
Guido Fawkes
Harry Phibbs
Iain Dale
Iain Martin
James Delingpole
James Wolcott
Joe Murphy
John Rentoul
Labour List
Mark Steyn
Matt Drudge
Mehdi Hasan
Melanie Phillips
Michael Wolff
Nick Cohen
Nick Robinson
Nikki Finke
Paul Waugh
Peter Hitchens
Political Betting
Right Minds
Rob Long
Rod Liddle
Sophy Ridge
Stephen Pollard
The Arts Desk
The Corner
The Daily Beast
The First Post
The Omnivore
The Onion
Tim Shipman
Tim Stanley
Tom Shone


AA Gill
Aidan Hartley
Allison Pearson
Allister Heath
AO Scott
Boris Johnson
Charles Moore
Cosmo Landesman
Daniel Finkelstein
David Brooks
Fraser Nelson
George Monbiot
Giles Coren
Henry Winter
James Delingpole
Jan Moir
Janan Ganesh
Jeremy Clarkson
Jeremy Warner
Jim White
Jonathan Freedland
Lloyd Evans
Manohla Dargis
Martin Samuel
Mary Ann Sieghart
Matthew d'Ancona
Matthew Norman
Maureen Dowd
Michiko Kakutani
Owen Jones
Patrick O'Flynn
Paul Krugman
Peter Bradshaw
Peter Oborne
Philip Collins
Polly Toynbee
Quentin Letts
Rachel Johnson
Rod Liddle
Roy Greenslade
Tim Montgomerie
Trevor Kavanagh
UK Book Cover

  • Buy the book on

  • Buy the book on

  • UK Book Cover

  • Buy the book on

  • Buy the book on

  • Audio Book Cover

  • Buy the audio book from
    Whole Story Audio
  • DVD Cover

  • Buy the DVD from

  • Buy the DVD from

  • IMdb Page on the film