In my search for good Greek food in London a few months ago – soon after I returned from Crete – I found The Life Goddess recommended by Victoria Hislop on her website and thought I must try it sometime. Today I decided to make the most of a free day and head into central London. I thought I could take in another visit to the British Museum’s Defining Beauty exhibition since I now have a Members’ annual pass, and then go to nearby Store Street in Bloomsbury to have a Greek lunch at The Life Goddess.
I always feel a slight thrill at entering the British Museum. The Central Court is stunning. Despite my original intention, I was diverted away from Greek art and headed instead into the Indigenous Australia exhibition. I’ve never been to Australia but have for some time felt a bond through using the wonderful Australian Bush Flower Essences in my complementary health practice and studying many times with the Essences’ founder Ian White.
It’s a fairly small exhibition but full of wonderful things which one follows with a running history about the indigenous people, through the horrendous history of it becoming a British Colony to the present day. The culture of the Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islanders goes back as far as 60,000 years. Their close connection to their land is demonstrated through the creation of practical but beautiful objects, some of which you can see here as well as some glorious paintings, full of colour and life.
Coming out of the museum a little before noon, I made my way towards Store Street that runs between Tottenham Court Road and Gower Street. It’s an area very familiar to me and I passed through Bedford Square (in photo above) where for 11 years I worked part-time as a reader for Hodder & Stoughton. Yes, I was actually paid to sit and read books all day! That was quite a long time ago but the area still feels a little like home ground. As I walked up Store Street I passed a gallery which had a painting by Rob Van Hoek in the window, which I liked a lot, so I went inside.
The Store Street Gallery was full of wonderful paintings and sculptures and I enjoyed looking at them for a while and talking to the friendly woman at the desk. Just a bit further along the road I found The Life Goddess.
Open 7 days a week from 9.30 until 11.00pm, it combines a coffee shop, small restaurant and delicatessen. I liked it immediately I went inside and could easily imagine hanging out there a lot if I lived nearby.
Everyone was so friendly and I was reminded of how much I like the Greeks. Several dishes were laid out so you could see exactly what you were ordering, which reminded me of being in Greece where sometimes you’re allowed into the kitchen to look at the food before choosing.
It all looked wonderful. There were some tasty looking meatballs in tomato sauce, an aubergine dish with Greek pasta, a pork dish that looked good and was described to me. I had a little discussion with the guy behind the counter (owner? manager?) and in the end went for a Greek salad because I wanted something fairly light for lunchtime.
You might say this isn’t the best way to try their food but tell me, who hasn’t been served an awful ‘Greek salad’? So I’m happy to tell you this one was excellent. Delightfully fresh, a modest but perfect coating of a light dressing, delicious creamy feta with just the right amount of saltiness and lovely black olives that the waitress told me came from Olynthos in northern Greece. I had just an espresso at the end and on the way out talked to the owner, said how good the salad was, and asked if it was OK to take some photos for the blog.
There were some wonderful looking cakes but I resisted all temptation – this time!
There were fridges full of different kinds of feta and Greek yogurt; racks full of Greek wines. In a corner I saw bags of dried herbs and tea mixes and bottles of olive oil.
I asked if they had the rusks for making dakos and the guy brought out a large pack and explained that each rusk was separately wrapped inside the big bag and they’d keep for a long time. I bought some and a pack of the olives, which had been in my salad, to bring home.
I really loved The Life Goddess and will try to return soon to have a cooked meal. And maybe one of those cakes! It really did feel like I’d found a bit of Greece in London.