434 LYGON STREET BRUNSWICK EAST, VICTORIA 3057
I've been to Hellenic Republic a couple of times before - for breakfast. It's safe to say they didn't win me over. However, I still hadn't been for dinner or lunch, so this week I thought I'd give it a go.
I called up during the day to make a booking for that night (a Thursday) but was told there were no tables available until 8:45pm. So, with that, I sent a message out to the Twitterverse, asking for alternate restaurant suggestions. A fellow Twitter person suggested that I just drop into Hellenic without a booking, in the hope that they could squeeze me in. So, that's just what we did. We arrived at 6:30pm and the place was choccas already. However, the waiter told us we could sit anywhere at the bar that we liked. Happy days! I don't have a problem with sitting at the bar - as long as it's comfortable. Usually it's away from the noisy people on the floor - so we were happy with that. The added bonus to our bar seats were that we could watch the barman and the kitchen operate, which is more entertaining to me than listening to other people's conversations on the main floor.
We started off with some Greek Mixed Olives (local and Hellenic) $8.50
The small olives were particularly tasty with a good texture. Some of the larger olives were a bit on the soft side, which I'm not such a fan of. I prefer the firmer olives.
Next was our kind of main courses, which at Hellenic are all made for sharing. They consisted of a plate of mixed meats, of which we chose the chicken and the lamb ($24.50). The chicken was tender and delicious - even better with lemon drizzled over the top. I'd heard much about the lamb and about how delicious, tender and juicy it is, but unfortunately, I was a little disappointed. It definately wasn't juicy and was even a little dry. I fear we may have been served a bit that had been going around on the spit for some time. The actual taste of the lamb was great though. One thing that was missing from the meat was some type of sauce. we got no aioli, no tzatziki ($8.50 extra) or anything like that to dip it in, which probably made the 'dryness' a little worse.
With the meat we ordered the most delicious little salad! Cypriot ancient grain salad, raisins and yoghurt ($10). The salad was garnished with tiny little pomegranate capsules, that perfectly topped off the salad. This salad went really well with the meat.
We also ordered the Tiganites patates - hand cut potatoes cooked in olive oil, oregano ($8.50)- these are the most delicious chips I've ever eaten. Unfortunately, they didn't arrive to us until they were just warm, but they were delicious all the same.
With our dinner we had the warm pita bread ($4.50)
The best part of the meal was yet to come - dessert!
For dessert, I ordered Rothakina - vanilla saffron roasted peaches, Greek yoghurt ($13). These were simply amazing - probably one of the most excellent desserts I have had in ages! I love fruit in dessert and this was so simple. But it was so tasty. I haven't had a good peach dessert all summer, so it looks like I had one just in time - before they go out of season.
Em ordered the Bougatsa - semolina custard, filo pastry ($12). In Em's own words 'this is like the best Vanilla Slice I've ever tasted!" And it was. The custard was thick and smooth - the pastry thin and crispy with a hint of Cinammon dusting.
Our food arrived very, very quickly, despite them being really, really busy. Which seems strange considering some of the food came out - not so hot. Despite that, we had an excellent evening, the staff were particularly polite and friendly. Would I go back? Yes, I probably would. Their dinners are far better than their breakfasts. However, if I had the choice, I would most definately choose The Press Club, over Hellenic Republic.