David Adamson goes all klepto on the set menu

The Stolen Lamb, in its first form, was sacrificed back in 2016 on the altar of Symposium. And while I won't deny Wayne Rooney somewhere to have a few sherberts, it was a shame that it had to go. 

The plan was to tank Laura Ashley and move the restaurant down there, but instead what cropped up was The Grove, a bar with live music and food on a street that, as I've mentioned before, was in dire need of a bit of nightlife. Then it was in need of a Greek restaurant, and now it's got that as well, just round the corner. 

Now, the name. Kleptomania - 'the compulsion or urge to steal' - comes from the klepht, a gang of Greek highwaymen who hid in the mountains of Ottoman-era Greece and pinched lambs from the occupying forces. To avoid detection, they would cook the lamb in a sealed pit in the ground. Hence the lamb dish kleftiko and, ultimately, the name of this restaurant in shoplifters' paradise, Wilmslow.

2024 05 28 Stolen Lamb Interior
Inside The Stolen Lamb Image: Confidentials

Mediterranean restaurants can sometimes tend towards a one-size-fits all decor, a sort of generalised dream of life on the continent, and in doing so not shout about all the quirks of cuisine, culture and design that make them great. Isn't that ultimately why we have countries? To say 'Call that a salad? This is a salad'. 

The Stolen Lamb is decorated to such a degree of Greekness as to be almost sarcastic, a moodboard of white marble, banquettes a shade of blue Yves Saint Laurent would squint at, and vases and olive branches everywhere you look. I love it. 

Much has been made of Fenix's Mykonian decor, but it's all a bit Fred and Wilma's Front Room for me. Gave me this gloriously kitsch interior any day. Oh and some food please.

2024 05 28 Stolen Lamb Interior 2
Inside The Stolen Lamb Image: Confidentials

I visited The Stolen Lamb with my family, and we decided to try The Bandits Banquet, a seven course meze 'tasting menu' that I would say offers more than a taste. For £38 per person (with a minimum of two) you finish the meal as stuffed as a vine leaf.

It began with pitta bread and dips. The pitta was that oregano-laden type, almost herby, that is tasty just by itself. But of course you need dips. Here there was black sesame hummus, taramasalata and a beetroot concoction I didn't expect to be my thing but loved. Meze might veer into similar territory as what some call 'a picky tea', but it's not for picky people. 

The black hummus was an interesting departure from the usual creamy, tahini type, which can take the form of everything from gravel to brickies cement. This was well-whipped, deep and complex. The taramasalata was bright and fragrant, with enough note of salmon without overpowering, and the beetroot an earthy, welcome accompaniment. No tzatziki but you can always just order that, as we did. 

A note: much like when Money's John Self said "Unless I specifically inform you otherwise, I'm smoking another cigarette", the same applies here to Mythos lager. That stuff makes you think the sun is shining.

2024 05 28 Stolen Lamb Pitta
Pitta Image: Confidentials
2024 05 28 Stolen Lamb Dips
Dips Image: Confidentials

Next was a trio of starters assembled into a tidy, tiffin-cum-afternoon-tea tower. Again, enjoyably uncool. No minimalism here, pile them high. Number one; a trio of Kapnistiri smoked sausages, which can sometimes be a little overpowering, but here were quite delicate and crucially not that chalky consistency that cooking in this way can sometimes create. Well seasoned and bringing a good variety of flavours. 

2024 05 28 Stolen Lamb Smoked Sausages
Trio of Kapnistiri smoked sausages Image: Confidentials

Number two; a sizeable spoon of salmon cured with ouzo and olive oil, which was just what you'd hope for; the cure had brought out the inherent subtle flavours of salmon that can often get swamped, the ouzo gave it that aniseed tang and, well, apart from the obvious virtues of olive oil that's it. It shouldn't need much else and this didn't.

2024 05 28 Stolen Lamb Cured Salmon
Salmon cured with ouzo and olive oil Image: Confidentials

Number three; sesame halloumi. If that's your sort of thing those two words together should probably be enough, but I'll go on. The halloumi was beautifully milky, not remotely bouncy like your shop-bought fare, and remarkably wasn't overly filling either, as can definitely be the case with a cheese as addictive as halloumi. Wrapped liberally in crunchy sesame seeds, the two textures combined very well indeed. 

2024 05 28 Stolen Lamb Sesame Halloumi
Sesame halloumi Image: Confidentials
2024 05 28 Stolen Lamb Starters
The trio Image: Confidentials

Onto mains. This consisted of chicken souvlaki skewers dangling vertically above a kleftiko of lamb wrapped up with peppers in brown paper. It's not quite a hole in the ground but it tasted fantastic nonetheless. When you think of the teflon-tough lamb that can be served across the country, you wonder why they don't all just dig a pit in the car park outside instead. It was tender, well-seasoned with those subtle Greek herbs and spices that don't steal focus, and crucially had been left to cook so that, when the time is right, it falls to pieces. The chicken souvlaki had surely been bathing in marinade all morning, as it was succulent and, while charred in the way you'd hope, not robbed of the moisture that makes this dish so tasty.

2024 05 28 Stolen Lamb Chicken Kebab And Lamb
Chicken souvlaki skewers with kleftiko lamb Image: Confidentials

The mains came with a serving of sauteed potatoes that were that rare thing in restaurants; actually crispy. Rather than the quick chop, par-boil and flash roast that restaurant timings sometimes demand, those poor potatoes had been treated to a medieval seven-course torment of their own all morning. Fluffy from a long boiling, rich from a dousing of olive oil and crispy from an infernal roasting in a very hot oven. Lovely.

2024 05 28 Stolen Lamb Potatoes
Sauteed potatoes Image: Confidentials

Of course there had to be a Greek salad, and this was all you expect from a well-made one. The lettuce and tomatoes were fresh, the olive oil in ample supply, the red onions crunchy and fiery and the herbs added gave it the fragrant, uplifted edge over the likes of a tricolore.

2024 05 28 Stolen Lamb Greek Salad
Greek salad Image: Confidentials

Finally, baklava. Something to get joyously fat on, because how could honey and pistachios be bad for you? The answer is they're not, and if they are just don't tell anyone. What a delight of a dessert baklava is, and while they're perfect on their own the addition of pear and pistachio ice cream makes it all the more enjoyable. Here they weren't shy on the pistachios and the filo layers were delicate and paper-thin but glazed in honey. Fantastic.

2024 05 28 Stolen Lamb Baklava
Baklava with pear and pistachio ice cream Image: Confidentials

To put it plainly, spending £38 per person to be delivered this quantity and quality of lovingly-made Greek food is not just cost-effective, it's daylight robbery.

The Stolen Lamb, 22 Water Ln, Wilmslow SK9 5AA

Stolen Lamb Interior 3
The Stolen Lamb Image: Confidentials
  • Food 8/10

    The Bandits Banquet 8

  • Service 4/5

    Smiley and informative, but just as happy to keep the plates coming

  • Ambience 4/5

    An absolute hoot of interior design that lovingly harks back to the homeland. Would love to see it very busy