The new Glasgow cafe bringing a taste of Ancient Greece to the city centre
THE latest eatery to open in the city centre is putting a fresh twist on the eating ethos of Ancient Greece.
Opson, on High Street, is a family-run cafe specialising in the philosophy that bread should be enjoyed with each meal.
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Originally from a small town near Thessaloniki in northern Greece, chef and owner Theo Kechagias was inspired to incorporate the flavours and practices of the ancient world into his first cafe.
The 35-year-old told the Glasgow Times: “We try to make dishes with ingredients people used to eat over 2000 years ago, like figs, grapes, cured fishes, raisins and vegetables."
Customers can choose from a wide range of fresh sandwiches, salads and gyros available to sit in or take away.
The time-honoured ingredients are combined with modern cooking techniques to bring out the best flavours.
Theo said: "For example, to make the chicken, pork and lamb, we cure them for two and a half hours to make them tender, and we cook them in sous vide water baths for another three hours just to break all the fibres and make the meat very tender.”
The cafe also does a range of speciality coffees, from classic Greek options like freddo cappuccino to superfood lattes featuring matcha and beetroot.
Theo, who opened the cafe with his dad, Angelos Kechagias, is determined to keep his offering affordable.
He said: "We’ve tried to keep the price low so everyone can afford to get some lunch and coffee for less than £10."
In today's modern age, we distinguish between food and drink, but the Ancient Greeks had three categories: sitos, opson, and oinos (wine).
Sitos, referring to a staple like bread, was a given at any meal.
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Opson, from which the cafe gets its name, is the 'relish', or anything that spruces up the base of a meal.
Theo said: "Opson is a very important category in ancient Greek foodways.
"It describes varieties that give you the combination of bread and ingredients, vegetables and meat and fish.
“Because in Ancient Greece, the bread goes with every meal, as a staple part.
"They used the word Opson to describe the complement to the staple."
Theo worked as a chef for 12 years in high-level and Michelin-starred restaurants.
After the birth of his daughter, he took a break from the industry for two years before deciding it was time to start his own business.
Theo said: "I’m a chef, and all that knowledge that I learned from restaurants that I worked at, I've used it to create some really nice sandwiches."
The Kechagias family hopes that Opson will become a space that draws people in to connect with one another and inspire meaningful discussion.
Theo said: “I think that after Covid and all of that, it’s missing nowadays.
"With all the technology and smartphones we are missing people coming together and chatting and discussing.
“Not just serious things, it can be something relaxing.
"So we have tried to bring that here, in a relaxing and cosy environment that you can sit down and chat with each other.”
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Opson will soon be expanding into a breakfast service with the same emphasis on fresh ingredients.
Theo said: "I feel very happy and I hope to have a successful business here.”