I’ve always felt like my family celebrates Diwali in a slightly unconventional manner—our festivities extend to an express version of the Lakshmi puja (under five minutes with a YouTube video of Anuradha Paudwal singing the aarti because none of us know the words to it) followed by dinner at a fancy, new restaurant.

For as long as I can remember, the festival has been about dressing up in new clothes for a meal at a restaurant that’s just too swanky for any other occasion. To make it truly memorable, we always try to pick a place that none of us have tried before. This means postponing visits to newly launched restaurants for months in order to “save" them for the Diwali dinner. So, even though we were tempted by the news of Goa-based Greek taverna Thalassa’s pop-up restaurant launching in September at Olive Bar & Kitchen, Mahalaxmi Race Course, Mumbai, we decided to wait until this Sunday to try it out.

I am really glad we waited—the Greek feast turned out to be one of our top Diwali meals of all time, trumping even Hakkasan from last year. For one, Greek food isn’t easy to find in the city (read about it here) and all the food we had was hearty and full of flavour, yet fresh and light, much appreciated after two nights of bingeing on deep-fried farsan and rich gravy at card parties.

The menu is extensive with at least a dozen starters, including dips like the tzatziki, souvlakis in several variations and speciality dishes like spinach and feta pies. With so many to try, we decided to focus on the appetisers instead of the mains. We used our pita breads to make wraps with our order of Gianio-tiko ( 480), a dipping plate with grilled feta, tomato, peppers and onions and the Mini Chicken Souvlakis, ( 480), mildly spiced chicken skewers served with an addictive-good garlicky tzatziki dip.

We also decided to try the Greek Pizza ( 510)—it was perfectly crisp but tasted like a Margherita with feta instead of mozzarella. But the winning dish of the evening was a red snapper fillet cooked bourdetto style, popular in Corfu (turns out, Thalassa owner Mariketty Grana grew up on the Greek island). The grilled fish was served in a pool of a spicy tomato sauce, with a side of creamy potato mash.

With at least another half dozen starters and a long list of mains to sample, I’m glad Thalassa will stay at Olive until early next year. There will be just enough birthdays and anniversaries for me to go back for the moussaka and other seafood specialities that make this restaurant so popular.

The Thalassa Pop-Up at Olive Bar & Kitchen, Amateur Riders Club, Gate No. 8, Mahalaxmi Race Course, Keshavrao Khadye Marg, Mahalaxmi, Mumbai. Call 022 4085 9595 for reservations.

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