The arcade in Point Chevalier could hardly be described as Auckland’s chicest dining destination, but among the two-dollar shops, Countdown and Domino’s, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to find The Greek House.
It opened in mid-March and is serving a Mediterranean menu in a vibrant blue, green and turquoise space.
The food is more far-reaching than the name “The Greek House” suggests. There are Middle Eastern influences, which makes sense when the owners tell me they’re of Palestinian and Jordanian descent, though raised in Malaysia.
Brother and sister Amjad and Asma Al Said came to New Zealand in 2019 under the refugee quota and have always dreamed of running their own restaurant. The chance came when the spot formerly occupied by Afghan restaurant Samadi became available and they took the leap – along with Amjad’s friend Imran Al Dablan, who owns a contracting company and other businesses in Auckland.
Amjad worked as a chef for 12 years in Malaysia before coming to New Zealand, and while Asma hasn’t cooked professionally before (up until now she’s been working as a successful food blogger and photographer), she and her brother have been behind the stoves since they were very young. “Our mum taught us well,” says Asma.
Order the meze platter and you’ll be rewarded with a mosaic of smooth house-made hummus, tzatziki, chunky baba ganoush, dolma and a punchy fattouche salad – all served with Turkish bread.
The menu is broken up into cold appetisers like falafel, individual dips, salads with halloumi or calamari, with other sections of hot appetisers, gyros wraps (there’s the Greek bit, along with moussaka and Greek salad), barbeque, smoke and seafood.
Explore the barbeque menu, as that’s their pride and joy. The chicken in the shish tawook is moist and tender, having clearly been marinaded in its mixture of garlic, yoghurt and Middle Eastern spices for a decent amount of time. Opt for a side of rice and you’ll be served a fluffy, saffron-kissed dish with hints of butter, onion and spice, finished with almonds and parsley. It even goes in the smoker for an extra flavour dimension.
There's no alcohol on the drinks menu; instead, quench your thirst with soft drinks, ayran (a Middle Eastern yoghurt beverage), lemon and mint cooler – or hot Turkish coffee and mint tea.
Even though it’s hard to avoid that this is part of a mall set-up, the team has made an effort with the decor. Inside, patterned tiles adorn the floor and there are plush, high-backed teal chairs, offset by blue walls and gold lamps. The trio has just acquired the space next door, so they’re currently in the process of pushing out to create a larger space.
“It was hard starting a business and we have worked really long hours every day, cooking, cleaning and preparing food from scratch,” says Asma, “but now people have started to find us, and they seem to like the food and service, so we’re excited to succeed together.”
The Greek House
11 Point Chevalier Road, Point Chevalier, Auckland
(09) 846 9955
Wed to Mon 4pm-10pm