A couple who created a dining sensation last year in Hull are hoping to make an even bigger impact with the launch of their new venture in the city centre.
Yiannis Makris and his wife Mata were part of the team at The Greek, which opened in Princes Avenue, Hull, to capacity crowds and rave reviews in May 2018.
But in October that year they left, with Mata going back to cooking for family and friends and taking private commissions while Yiannis worked in other food businesses.
Now they’re back in business and will open Artemis Greek Taverna this week in the premises vacated earlier this year by Rustica Bistro.
Yiannis, who will be front of house, and chef Mata both come from the same place in Greece, the town of Volos which is renowned for its food. They came to Hull to study in 1993 but they didn’t meet until 1995.
Mata graduated from the University of Hull in electronic engineering but her natural passion for food led her to set up her own business cooking Greek delights for dinner parties, weddings and other events.
The couple were head-hunted by their business partners, who never forgot the quality of the dining experience from their visits to The Greek, and they’ve been given free rein with the menu and the atmosphere at Artemis Greek Taverna, which is on the corner of Charles Street and Jarratt Street.
They have spent the last two months completely refurbishing the premises, which were empty for several months after the sudden closure of Rustica. The colours are classic Greek blue and white, the ambience is intimate and most of the team of 10 are Greek.
The menu features assorted Greek favourites including various cheeses, home-made dips with pitta, falafel, courgette fries and spinach pie and a range of fish, meats, souvlakis and salads. There will also be daily specials, with Mata going back through her archive of family recipes to work her magic with the best ingredients that Yiannis can find at local markets.
Mata said: “All the women in Greece can cook. You learn to cook from a very early age and the knowledge and the secrets are passed down through the generations. I have the recipes and the ingredients locked away. Yiannis is front of house – he’s not allowed to cook in my kitchen!”
Artemis Greek Taverna will have up to 40 seats inside with the potential to almost double that with pavement dining during the summer. Opening hours will be 11.30am until around 9.30pm Tuesday to Sunday, with take-away lunches a daytime speciality. Yiannis and Mata are planning a soft launch this week with some invitation-only events, followed by a full opening on Friday 22 November.
Yiannis said: “People go to Athens for the culture and Volos for the food. It is a culinary destination. The majority of our products are imported from Greece, including Greek beer and wine, and everything else will be sourced locally, including from our allotment.
“Being in the city centre is a dream come true and since City of Culture we have noticed it’s on the rise. We got the opportunity to open here and it’s ideal because it’s in the heart of the city and it’s nice and cosy. The theatre is nearby and there’s plenty of parking which is free after 6pm.
“Every day is different so why should the food be the same? Our meze will be a pallet of flavours and a pallet of colours. If this place was not a restaurant it would be a gallery! We will try to stimulate all your senses to help you experience something unique.”
Kathryn Shillito, HullBID Executive Director, said: “Artemis Greek Taverna promises to be a fantastic addition to the dining scene as an independent restaurant which is different from anything else in Hull city centre.
“We’ve seen what Mata and Yiannis are capable of – amazing, authentic Greek food and a traditional Greek welcome and we’re eager to see the response to their new restaurant. The opening hours are family friendly and the take-away lunches are a great idea with so many businesses on their doorstep.”
Artemis Greek Taverna will open to the public on Friday 22 November. For bookings call 01482 228065.
[Phil Ascough – Ascough Associates]