Thursday, October 20, 2011

Hellenic Republic

Doesn't it feel great to be back. After a few hectic months, I finally have both time (and access to internet) to finally post again. The template for this review has been sitting in my drafts folder for two months, just waiting to be written.

What an amazing place this restaurant is though, and certainly lives up to its hype. It wasn't too hard to get a reservation a day in advance for a quiet Tuesday night (though I wouldn't recommend it seeing how busy it actually ended up being). Warm and cosy, the emphasis here is definitely on being family oriented, both in the menu and the atmosphere of the restaurant. That of course meant pretty terrible lighting for photos, but you get the picture.

Hellenic Republic
The waitress was helpful in recommending dishes, and the correct number of dishes so we ended up feeling satisfied yet not gorged. The entrees were for the most part, quite simple but certainly delicious.

Melitzanosalata - roasted eggplant, miso with fresh pita bread. So much better than the crusty bread and olive oil that they have at other restaurants in my opinion. The dip was nice and smooth in consistency and full of flavour. We also ordered a serve of Tyri saganaki comprised of Kefalograviera (a hard sheep milk cheese) with peppered figs. This stuff was addictive. The salty cheese was offset perfectly by the tart sweetness of the figs and left us wanting so much more of it. Pity the photographs came out terrible - there's no way that I'm going to spoil the memory of this dish with an ugly photograph! There's a much nicer picture on the Hellenic Republic website with the caption "Classic Greek Delicacy".

The centerpiece of the meal though was, of course, the meat. We ordered the Arni sto fourno, slow roasted shoulder of lamb, garlic, oregano, accompanied by a serve of Kalamboki (sweet corn, spiced butter, smoked almonds, kefalograviera).

Arni sto fourno
The lamb was tender and full of flavour, but as the waitress had recommended, one serve of meat was more than enough when shared between two. Any more, even with the corn to offset the oils in the dish, and I think we wouldn't have managed to finish the dish. Not to say that we didn't have any room left for dessert though - both of us were smiling like kids when the dessert menu was brought out. Greek donuts, brownies, pastries and meringues, we were spoilt for choice. Obviously we couldn't just settle for one dish!

Hellenic Mess
Curiously titled, the Hellenic Mess, well, was a bit of a mess. With rose-water meringue, orange blossom jelly, vanilla crema, strawberry ouzo sauce, you really couldn't complain though. The meringue was sweet but light with the faintest hint of rose, the jelly slightly refreshing, the vanilla creamy, and the strawberry sauce indulgent, but the dessert tasted so much better when you just took a big mouthful of everything in one go. Probably fairly easy to concoct at home, but I doubt that you could do better at home. They've got this down to an art.

I must admit though, I preferred the second dessert a lot more.

Ekmek kataifi pagoto
My weakness for pastries and cakes is well-known, but this was quite simply breathtaking. Complex in both construction and taste (you're unlikely to be making this at home, but if you do, invite me over, please?), the Ekmek kataifi pagoto dish, of kataifi pastry filled with custard and topped with cherries and mastic ice cream was alternatively sweet, crispy and creamy. Certainly indulgent, but no better way to finish up an amazing meal. Seeing as there's still so many dishes to try, if I'm ever planning to head up in East Brunswick again, I know where I'm going for dinner, or maybe their impressive sounding Sunday lunches.

Hellenic Republic
434 Lygon St, Brunswick East
Breakfast: Sat-Sun 9-1130am, Lunch: Fri-Sun 12-4pm, Dinner: Mon-Sun 530pm-late

Hellenic Republic on Urbanspoon