Greek food has traditionally been about sharing: eating not just to fill bellies but to fill minds, hearts, and rooms with conversation and contentedness. On a crisp (okay, bloody freezing) Tuesday night in the middle of winter, Oikos was packed. Small tables of couples and mates, and a long table of family and friends of Greek extraction who, mid-meal, burst into song and the rest of the restaurant turned and smiled.
Chef Theo Papouis wants to introduce Wellington to new Greek dishes and ingredients they may not have come across before (the menu has a helpful glossary). Taking a fresh approach to producing rustic Greek food, Oikos' dishes still retain an integrity to their traditional roots. Come summertime when eggplant and tomatoes are at their in-season best, this menu is really going to sing.
Oikos (pronounced 'eekos') makes food to share with a menu of mezze-style plates to pick and mix from, or if you're not in the mood for choosing there's a set shared menu. The dishes are mostly entree-sized, so order what you want and then add on a few more dishes for good luck. The dishes are delivered to the table as they're ready to create an abundant feast and a pretty great Instagram opportunity, too.
The sesame seed crusted feta is coated in a crunchy cracker-like exterior in contrast to the smooth unctuously salty cheese. Drizzled with runny honey and sprinkled with fragrant fresh thyme leaves, this is a dish that you should probably order two of.
Olives aren't something you can really judge a restaurant on, but Oikos does a good one. Jewel-like plump green Sicilian olives which are creamy and grassy, and wrinkled dark purple ones which are fruity and rich, are warmed together in olive oil and flecked with whole coriander seeds.
Tahinosalata is a lusciously smooth tahini dip (a bit like hummus) with yoghurt and lemon and is perfect for trailing torn pieces of warm homemade pita bread through or the oregano roast potatoes for the gluten-challenged.
The exact origin of Oikos' house wine is a well-guarded secret, but I can tell you that it's reasonably priced and that the organic Marlborough Syrah is a smashable drop. The thoughtful wine list features some Greek wine and there's ouzo for afters.
Speaking of afters, you need to save room for dessert. There's baklava reworked into a chocolate rendition and Greek honey doughnuts with walnut and cream. There's a glass pot of set yoghurt, its tangy tartness offset by the chalky sweet vanilla of crushed white chocolate and crunchy gold strikes of honey nut brittle. Order one of each to share — 'cos sharing is caring.