It goes without saying the kindness and Greek style of love, laughter, and abundance is very much one and the same for the ever so popular Tashas.
Founded by Natasha Sideris over 16 years ago, she is still closely involved in every of aspect her restaurant, which has been franchised around the country and even in Dubai.
At the media launch at Tashas Melrose Arch of their new menu, Sideris was still overseeing everything. The charismatic and funny owner still makes every customer feel at home as much as possible.
She says the minute she stops caring about the finer details, chair positions, or a piece of paper on the floor, she will know it is time to stop.
“So far that obsession has got worst, I am not going anywhere,” she jokingly adds.
The new additions are quite health-conscious, responding to what patrons wanted more of.
At Tashas, customers can make up any dish that they would like and have been doing so since day one.
“But what we are finding from vegetarians and vegans is that they want some beautiful specific dishes made up. When we decided what type of menu items to launch, we wanted it to keep it focused on that.”
There are still plenty of cheeses, meats, dairy items on the menu but people can decide to leave those off or swap for vegan or vegetarian alternatives.
Frequent visitors have welcomed the new menu, but Sideris says the restaurant has been plant-based from the beginning, ranging from their pasta to their salads. The only difference now is putting a spotlight on the dishes.
Head chef of South Africa Sasha Basson is responsible for the delicious healthy choices.
In tasting all six, bite-size portions, we were served three smoothies, including the “green goddess”, which was beautifully balanced. Unlike some green smoothies that taste quite leafy, the goddess is naturally sweetened with banana, pineapple and honey.
Thereafter, the “golden mango rooibos” smoothie ticked all the boxes. It is enriched with yoghurt, chia, turmeric and is thick and bodied. Chia seeds are packed in fibre and protein.
Lastly, the “berry acai”, with banana, coconut milk, dates, cranberry and honey was my personal favourite, and like all of them, would be great on the go.
The standouts from the food include the “little miss sunshine” homemade granola with caramelised fruits, yoghurt, pawpaw curd and coconut flakes. It was divine and is a dish I could eat for each meal of the day (or as a snack).
The “red and white quinoa” still had some bite. Quinoa can easily be overcooked but not so at Tashas. Also on offer is the butternut zucchini rosti, barely and broccoli salad with nicely charred long stem broccoli, filled with pumpkin seeds and grilled onions.
While the the new additions are changing the menu up a up, the classics remian.
“There is a fine line between innovating and bending to every trend… I think from social media we have sort of forgotten the joy of new stuff, new things become old very quickly, ” Sideris says.
Sideris further explained that they have to stick to their core and when a trend takes off they wait and see if it would be still around before incorporating it into the menu.
Since they have opened a further five cafes in Dubai, a fine-dining concept store and Greek restaurant, as well as a bar ranked 67th in the world, they have their sights set on Riyad next in the Middle East and London, England.
“America would be an unbelievable market but that is probably five to ten years away.”
Even though loving her Greek heritage, a dish she would make in a dash is spaghetti bolognese: “Because it is quick, easy and delicious and it’s my mother’s recipe.”