August 11 2021

Pig Guide review: Jars Meze

The sun was out, the sky was blue, and Mr Pig had the day off work. And so it came to pass that we skipped into town like a couple of kids playing truant and went for a late lunch in Jars Meze.

This joyful little taverna – a family-run business specialising in nicely priced, wholly authentic Greek Grub – opened on Northumberland Place around four (maybe even five?) years ago and swiftly earned cult status on the Bath foodie scene, thanks to all who’d done the JM thing waxing lyrical about the proper Politiki Melitzanosalata, the rollickin’ Rolo Gourounaki, the very special Spetsofai Voliotiko and all kinds of other delights that I can’t pronounce but all loosely translate as Grecian gorgeousness. Now I’ve never been to Greece, but I’ve watched enough food-related travelogues and devoured enough similarly-themed cookery books (this one being my very favourite) to know that a good Kleftiko is worth travelling for… but I have to confess that, before this visit, I’d never even travelled to Jars Meze.

What with it being a sunny day n’all, there was no room at the alfresco outside-inn; the tightly-packed little tables were tightly-packed with languid lunchers. We could have taken to our pre-booked table inside, but after a shortish spell of polite loitering we were shown to a coveted pavement table where we embarked on our voyage of Greek wine discovery (when in Greece, etc) accompanied by a very smooth pond of hummus served in a dinky little Kilner jar and perused menus that promised all manner of tantalising treats, eventually settling on Kolokithopitakia (two divine courgette and Feta fritters), Kalamarakia Tiganita (cornflour-coated fried squid, served with featherlight Taramasalata) and Gigantes Plaki: an utterly delicious herby butter bean stew, in this instance apparently cooked to a Prespan recipe; if you, like me, never thought you could be wowed by a butter bean stew, prepare to have your preconceptions challenged at Jars Meze.

After all our grazing, nibbling and picking (seriously, even the pitta bread is seriously good), I stuck with the meze menu for my main course and opted for a little dish of Garides Saganak: big fresh prawns in a fresh tomato sauce thrumming with chillies, herbs, garlic and (I’m sure) cinnamon, with oozy little blobs of Feta dotted hither and thither across the top. On t’other side of the table, the Chicken Gryos felt a little bit humdrum after our flavour-frenzy build up and the chips that came with it (good as they were) strangely out of place – but if kebabs are your thing, you’re unlikely to find one as flavoursome and succulent as this.

By the time we’d finished our feasting, the Jars Meze family were taking a well-deserved break and getting ready to refresh the scene for evening service. So, after a quick hit of thick, sweet, syrupy Greek coffee, we moved the party on and travelled around 800km in 3 metres, taking to another alfresco table outside of Rosario’s where Mr Pig tucked into a Sicilian Afternoon Tea (if you haven’t tried a Rosario’s canoli, you really haven’t lived la dolce vita) and I couldn’t refuse a mini bottle of Prosecco (well I could have done, but Mr Pig ordered himself an Amaro, and it would have been rude to make him drink alone.)

And so the day rolled along, ending up at The Garrick’s Head for too many sundowners and eventually rolling home at a ridiculous hour given that we’d only planned to pop into town for a quick late lunch. Yia mas, Piggies!

The small print, Jars Meze: Meze dishes £4.70-circa £8; main courses £12.50-£18; desserts around £5. Excellent Greek wine £23-ish per bottle. Booking highly recommended (but you can’t book alfresco tables.)

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