Saturday, 4 July 2015


I spend quite a bit of time in Manchester going to concerts and gigs and several times I had walked past Greek restaurant Rozafa and thought "you know what, we should really give them a go one day". Today that day finally arrived and we finally took a walk down to see if the food could take us back to our holiday in Rhodes a few years ago. The weather certainly was doing that as it was in the centre of a Great British heatwave so all Rozafa needed to do was provide the authentic Greek dishes to send us back to that fabulous island!

Located on Princes street just a stones throw from Manchester China Town, we were welcomed to Rozafa and offered the chance whilst the weather was so good to take a seat outside. Taking advantage of the weather we took them up on this on plonked ourselves in a corner of the terrace area. 

If it wasn't for the busy traffic in the street you could think you were on a Greek island. Don't be put off by the buses and cars, the greenery around the outside area provides shelter and privacy from the noise so you can still enjoy your meal without to much intrusiveness. Seats are still available inside of course and with the front doors and windows wide open it's the perfect spot to enjoy a summers meal whilst enjoying the fabulous weather.

The menu is packed to the brim with traditional Greek dishes. Some instantly recognizable and some not so much. Having decided that we wasn't that hungry, Jon thought that a little mezze would be the order of the day. Being a lot more ravenous I wanted to order the vegetarian "Mega Mezze", a selection of dishes that we could pick at and eat as much as we felt like. I thought it would just be a few nibbles, despite Jon's insistence that it would be a lot more. Being one not to listen very often I managed to persuade him to order it anyway. How much food could it be anyway?

Well let me say that even I was not prepared for the amount of food that was about to head our way. I should of listened! At around £20 per head (at time of writing) you cannot argue with the value for money. If you can't decide what to order and think you are hungry for a start and main then these "Mega Mezze's" are the choice for you. All the dishes below can be ordered as separate meals but to be able to try little bits of everything is a style of eating that I'm all for. So the quantity and price of the food is already getting thumbs up from me, what about the all important taste?

First down on the table had to be the traditional Greek salad. A highlight when I went to Rhodes was eating the fresh feta cheese and Rozafa's feta was on par. I just wish there was a few cubes more but that's a small grumble! Jon loved the dressing and the olives and I am a big red onion fan so I enjoyed the mountains of those on the plate too (make sure you bring some mints for after the meal!). Yes it's a salad but the Greeks do a mean salad and for me it was as authentic as anything I had on the islands. The portion for the two of us was ample and as a starter too our meal I couldn't ask for something more yum!

Along side the salad came this array of dips and warm pitta bread. The hummus was divine, you can tell its made at the restaurant as the freshness of the flavor really shone through. I'm not a Tzatziki fan but Jon it too be most tasty. The tomato salsa was light and ever so slightly spicy with the hint of chili that was present. The star of the show however was the Melizana. This aubergine, pepper and garlic dip was such a treat that started to eat it from the teaspoon and could of quite happily sat all day dipping pitta into a big massive bowl of the stuff. Pick these for your starter and you will be in dippy heaven!  

Next up came what I would call the "meat" of the meal, the big hearty pieces of the mezze selection. First we had halloumi. We love the stuff and Rozafa do it justice by simply grilling it in olive oil and black pepper. Simple but so effective in letting the cheese do the talking. The falafel, which can sometimes be really dry was piping hot, moist and fluffy and scrummy when dipped into the salsa dip. Two Spanakopites were stuffed to the brim with creamy feta and spinach that melted in the mouth once you bit through the crispy filo pastry. A trio of little triumph's on a plate!

A duo of dishes arrived next in the form of "Gigantes" and "Revithia". The Gigantes was a stunning tomato, dill and celery based sauce covered a mountain of massive butter beans which were soft and moreish. I wish I had more pitta bread to mop up the remains of that amazing sauce. The Revithia was equally enjoyable. I loved that the chickpeas had some bite to them as opposed to being over cooked and soggy. Again, the spinach and tomato sauce they sat in was incredible, a tad more subtle and smooth than the Gigantes sauce which just pushes it ahead in terms of taste. Both however, were to die for!

The last dish we tried was these "Yemista". I never tried it before so it was an absolute revelation. The huge plump baked pepper and tomato stuffed with soft and fluffy rice, onions, sultanas and sunflower seeds was just bursting with immense flavor. Top that off with a rich tomato sauce and lashings of oozing melted mozzarella and I was literally in paradise. This is a dish I would love to create at home and something that I would quite happily come back for again and again. I mean there is melted mozzarella! If that doesn't win anyone over then I don't know what will.

By this time we had to head off to a concert but the food hadn't finished. We still had Moussaka to go. I applaud the service of the staff at Rozafa though as they bagged it up for us to take back to the hotel for supper, no questions asked! It's always a plus when a restaurant goes an extra mile for it's customers and I think Rozafa would quite happily accommodate most requests. 

The Moussaka, when we tried it at the hotel later was packed with big chunks of aubergine, peppers, courgettes and mushrooms hiding under a bechamel and cheese hat! I polished the whole lot off. Even after it had been sat in our hotel room for a few hours the quality of the food was still spot on.

You may be able to tell by now but our meal was stunning. I wish we didn't have to rush off so I could enjoy the food more but that is just another reason to come back when we have more time. I could kick myself that I've walked past this jewel in Manchester's culinary crown for so long. 

Whilst Manchester's foodie scene begins to grow with trendy niche food outlets that can sometimes be more style over substance you shouldn't forget the well established restaurants like Rozafa which have been dishing up authentic, stunning food for years. Do yourself a favor and stop in for yourself and transport yourself over to the med for the night. I guarantee you will, as the menu says "Kali Orexi".

Check out the menu and make yourself a reservation at Rozafa's website here!

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