Coming from a Greek heritage means that I generally steer clear of Greek restaurants when dining out. Not for the fact that I don’t like the cuisine, but it often (actually always) turns out that the home cooking of my Yiayia (grandmother), Aunt or Mum is always better. In my life, eating Greek food has been reserved for the times when travelling in Greece and for home/family events. This is all starting to change though, with Sydney now producing more modern Greek eateries that rival the many which have existed in Melbourne for years. It’s about time that Greek cuisine was seen more prominently on the Sydney eating map as the dishes are so full of flavour, use fresh ingredients and are perfect for sharing between a group of people.
We organised a dinner with my girlfriends to check out The Apollo in Potts Point which has been open since last year. I’d heard many good things, and since there were six of us for dinner we were able to order an array of dishes and try a wide variety of the menu.
We start off with two classic Greek dips, the Tzatziki which is a combination of Yoghurt, Cucumber and Mint served alongside some warm Toasted Pita Bread.
The second choice is the Taramasalata, which is a mouthful to say and a mouthful of flavour. The creamy dip is made up of Mullet Roe which is blended to a smooth texture and served with some fish roe on top. The way the food is presented in the jars makes me excited and I eagerly peel away the white foil to get to the good stuff.
The interior of the restaurant is extremely chic and modern. The dining area is open, high ceilinged and beautifully lit.
Before even trying this dish I knew it was going to be a favourite. Saganaki Cheese (they used Kefalograviera..hehe try pronouncing that one) which is grilled in the little skillet pan and served with Honey and Oregano. I took one bite and was in heaven. I’ve eaten this hard sheep’s milk cheese many a time before, but have never had the pleasure of it being grilled. You get the saltiness from the cheese, the earthy taste from the oregano and then this sweetness from the honey which combines it all together and makes it just so memorable.
Next out is the Grilled Calamari with Eggplant, Olices, Tomato and Capers. The calamari is cooked really well (people get it wrong so often) and still soft but crunchy on the edges.
Octopus is a staple fish-market purchase in my family and I love to eat it grilled on the BBQ and marinated in the simple stuff; olive oil, lemon and pepper. The Apollo serves it just the way I like it, Grilled Octopus with Oregano and Lemon, garnished with fresh Parsley.
It is rather uncommon to find a non-meat eating Greek, its just part of our DNA. Along with eating it, we aren’t too bad at cooking it either. The Apollo does all Greeks justice with its amazing Oven Baked Lamb Shoulder served with Lemon and Greek Yoghurt. The portion is generous, the meat is tender, slightly fatty and salty. All the things you want from a piece of lamb.
To accompany the lamb we order two different sides instead of the standard Horiatiki (Village) Greek Salad. The Brussel Sprouts with Almonds and Sunflower Seeds are flavoursome and slightly acidic from the dressing they are in.
We also get the Fennel, Mint and Parsley Salad which is a lot fresher then the sprouts and a better accompaniment to the lamb.
Greek sweets and desserts are amazing when done right, but the assortment is not as wide and refined as the sweet treats you find in Italian or French cuisine. There is one dessert that is a must order for everyone and a Greek favourite; Loukmades (Honey Doughnuts) served with Pomegranate and Pistachio. The Apollo has made these so light and airy by using yoghurt in the mixture which means they still get that slightly crunchy exterior, but with soft pillowy inside as well.
The second option we go for is the Walnut Filo Pastry with Coffee Cream. This reminded me of a modern take on the traditional Baklava dessert. I was wary of the coffee flavour being overpowering, but it was subtle and went really well with the walnuts and sugary syrup.
We finish off the night with a glass of Mastika, a digestif which is only made on the island of Chios in Greece. It is sweet and has a slight liquorice flavour to it and accompanies the desserts really well. I am pleased with everything that was served up to us, and will be more then happy to go back to The Apollo for the Saganaki and Loukmades alone. My faith in Greek restaurants in Sydney has been restored, and the next one on my must try list is Alpha on Elizabeth Street which opened just a few months ago.
44 Macleay Street, Potts Point, NSW
Ph: 02 8354 0888
I hope everyone has a fantastic food filled week xxx