Good food and good wine: that’s what INO is all about. The intimate Greek restaurant, set on a quieter road just off of Carnaby Street, absolutely nails this – a visit here was the perfect start to my bank holiday; however, I recommend checking out this spot anytime of the week or year. Although those first two sentences there are pretty much my review of INO Restaurant in a nutshell, please read on to truly grasp the mouthwatering dishes, wonderful wines and sensational service at this eatery.
The dining experience at INO
First and foremost, I must give a shout out to the unrivalled hospitality at INO Restaurant – the food is fabulous (more on that shortly), but based on their service alone, they’d have got a great review. While the restaurant is just a 25 cover, you’d be forgiven for feeling you were the only table in the space; that’s how friendly, fast, and dedicated the service is.
Upon arrival, you’ll be shown to your table, which will either be on the bar stools in front of the open kitchen, giving you a front row seat to some super cool show cooking, or at one of the tables in the dining area. We opted to sit in the dining area, under fabulous mirrored ceilings, which both enlarge the space and give it a thoroughly modern feel. This dining space also has a glass ceiling in parts, framed by foliage, giving off a holiday/taverna vibe. The team at INO Restaurant primarily cook over charcoals in the aforementioned open kitchen, and dishes are served tapas style; sharing is wholly encouraged.
While the flavours in each dish brought something different, elevating the smoky tastes of the charcoal in new ways, I definitely had my favourite plates. Tied second place was the gyros, and the octopus taco. The gyros transported me to a sunny afternoon in Greece with every bite; the flavours were harmonious, the Iberico pork soft and flavoursome, and the bread from Rhode Island cocooned it brilliantly. The octopus taco incorporated an array of textures, and I was most impressed by the octopus itself. It was anything but rubbery (a mean feat to perfect), but instead super soft. The smoked tomato dressing was something I’ll be thinking about for a good while too…
My star of the show was the taramas: hand-stretched pitta bread, dipped in cod roe and a slow cooked egg yolk, and sprinkled with bottarga (a salty egg crumb). Absolutely sensational. It was soft, smoky, salty and creamy all at once. It took ‘bread and dips’, and elevated it stratospherically.
Wine list and cocktails
The name “INO” comes from Greek word οίνος, (which sounds like “inos”,) meaning “wine”, so it’s little surprise that their selection of wine is fantastic. Only Greek wines grace the drinks menu here, but some are inspired by other areas in the world. My favourite of the wines I tried was the Douloufakis white wine, which uses herbs from the island of Crete, though the flavour is subtle. The Gerovassiliou red wine is also a good choice to enjoy with the meaty gyros and souvlaki.
If cocktails are more your bag, the team at INO cater for you too. They have three Greek-themed mixed cocktails, and three more strong options (think twists on an Old Fashioned or Negroni). I can recommend both the Athens Spritz – a softer tasting spin on the classic Aperol Spritz – and the Lemonjito. The latter tastes like an alcoholic lemonade with a bit of pizzaz.
As a final word, I can only reiterate that I thoroughly loved my visit to INO Restaurant, and would return here in a heartbeat; and I’m pretty sure my review would be the same every time. It’s worth noting that as the evening goes on, the music becomes more lively – we had 00s RnB playing for the majority of our meal – dining here is a whole vibe, and most definitely worth a visit.