I hadn’t really noticed the lack of Greek food in Canberra until my friend and I were perusing the menu at Zeus. Newly opened, Zeus offers classic pita and souvla, plus a selection of sweets. I ordered the Spartan Box with lamb ($16.5 + $2 for lamb), which is essentially 140g of lamb served on top of a delicate mixed rice pilaf, with sides of tzatziki and coleslaw. We also ordered a side of fetta & oregano chips to share ($9.5) – these weren’t strictly necessary, but they were tasty! The fetta fell off easily, so we learned to skewer them with our forks, and I thought the chips could have used a tad longer in the frier, but I’d happily chow on these again. The lamb in the Spartan Box was tender and tasty, with a reasonable amount of fat and a fairly magical rub on the outer pieces (give me more of those bits please, especially drizzled with fresh lemon!). The ‘slaw had beautifully fresh walnuts inside, and the tzatziki matched the lamb well. We were also offered a complimentary plate of loukoumades (usually $8) for dessert. I’d eaten way too much already, but these Greek doughnuts are drizzled in a super tasty cinnamon-dusted honey and walnuts, so I forced myself to have one. Yum, yum, yum. Can’t wait to come back and try the pitas!
Zeus Street Greek, Shop 7/21 Genge Street, Canberra City, ACT, http://zeusstreetgreek.com.au/
Having some Greek heritage, I was curious to try George Calombaris’s take on the cuisine whilst in Melbourne. The Press Club has been transformed into the more relaxed Gazi, which has a bold menu, including souvlakakias and fries with fetta that literally every table seemed to order. I started with the chicken souvlakakia ($11), with onion, mustard mayo, chips and parsley. Whilst I found the bread a bit dense, everything else about this was perfect. I loved the charred, smoky, tender chicken, which was included in generous quantities for the price. I loved the thin chips and the plentiful mayonnaise and the parsley that brought a waft of tabouleh to the whole thing. I loved the casual, hands-on experience of enjoying this delightful wrap. Mum ordered the 400g baby snapper ($28), which was an impressive whole fish we ended up sharing. The walnut crust on the outside was utterly divine, and the snapper meat just melted in your mouth. We enjoyed the slower pace of working our way through the fish, and greedily lapped up every last morsel on the plate. With equally good service and food, Gazi is an affordable, fun, tasty must-visit for any Melbourne trip!
Gazi, 2 Exhibition Street, Melbourne VIC, http://gazirestaurant.com.au/
Hello, souva of my dreams. Greek food isn’t really a big thing in Canberra, so on this visit to Melbourne it was near the top of my list. I stood in queue at a busy lunchtime and ordered the Mr Papadopoulos ($12.5), a souva with lamb, mustard aioli, chips, onion and parsley, with a side of chips ($4.50) served with fetta and oregano (swoon). The food did take a while, but was clearly cooked fresh, and served nicely for dine-in enjoyment on an Emporium plate. I must confess, this souva had the nicest, softest pita wrap of any souva I’ve had (including the one at Gazi), and it wasn’t overly dense. That left me free to enjoy the melt-in-your-mouth, smoky pieces of lamb, which were plentiful and utterly divine. The parsley and onion added a tabouleh-esque touch, and the chips within were great, although not quite as great as the side of chips. Oh my, I was so full from the souva (which I couldn’t finish), but I kept shovelling those chips in. Yum. The fetta was lovely and salty, the chips crisp on the outside and fluffy on the inside… A very filling and very tasty lunch. Greek food craving satisfied.
Jimmy Grants, Emporium Melbourne, Level Three, 287 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne VIC, http://jimmygrants.com.au/
Make way Canberra, a new venue has joined the ranks of food coma, meat sweat-inducing deliciousness. Welcome, Fillos Souvlaki! A recent addition to the Hamlet’s collective of food trucks, Fillos Souvlaki offers souvlaki as either a pita or a plate, with lamb, pork and vegetarian options. I went for the lamb pita ($12.50), and on reflection I probably should have fasted for some time prior to trying to eat it! My meal was prepared in two minutes flat – even the lady handing me the roll couldn’t believe it was ready so quickly! Inside the rather thick pita bread was a large amount of beautiful chunks of lamb, some serious chips, plenty of garlic sauce (yes!), and a nod to non-deep fried vegetables with some onion, tomato and lettuce thrown in for appearance’s sake. But we all know I’m here for the lamb. Whilst not melt-in-your-mouth, the cubes of lamb were really tasty and I didn’t mind the effort of chewing them a lot to extract the flavour. The chips were at just the right mid-point between crispy and soggy for belonging in a roll. I’d be keen to try the plate next time – bring it on!
Fillos Souvlaki, The Hamlet, 16 Lonsdale Street, Braddon ACT, no website