By Leigh O’Connor.
Greek legend says God distributed soil through a sieve and
used the remaining stones to build Greece. These days Greek myths make for some
of the most successful movies, books and works of art, with a world full of
mythical creatures and superhuman deeds.
From great Goddess Pandora and her infamous box (which was
actually a jar), to Hercules, Jason and the Argonauts, we have been fascinated
by stories of unbelievable physical feats, wars and forbidden love. Mythology
carries seeds of truth, sometimes even more, but we prefer to believe the
impossible, it makes for a much better story!
One thing is true, every year on March 25 Greece and its expats
celebrate a national holiday commemorating the start of the War of Greek Independence
in 1821. It also marks the Greek Orthodox Church’s Annunciation to Theotokos,
when Archangel Gabriel appeared to Mary and told her she would bear the son of
Towns and villages throughout Greece hold school flag
parades and in Athens armed forces strut their stuff through city streets, as
locals cheer on with a glass of ouzo in hand. Meanwhile Down Under, home to one
of the largest Greek communities in the world, it is time to smash some plates,
eat souvlaki and visit a favourite restaurant to celebrate the national day
Grab your chariot, don traditional dress and dance your way
into a Greek venue nearby, to enjoy all this ancient culture has to offer.
Mykonos Taverna's painted mural depicts the beauty of the restaurant. Photo: Sylvia Gabriel.
Sample Mediterranean delights and Greek hospitality at Meat
Me Souvlakeri in Eaton Mall at Oakleigh. With a corner location and wide
alfresco street side area, Meat Me offers guests the chance to people watch
while sampling succulent souvlaki, or dine indoors where plastered brick walls
and rustic wine racks create a relaxing vibe to while the night away. Settle in
with an appetiser of chargrilled octopus or deep fried saganaki cheese, before
mains like lamb pita gyro mega with lettuce, tomato, onion, parsley, paprika
and tzatziki. Those with larger appetites may choose a Meat Me banquet or mixed
grill for two.
Greek influenced café Melissa
Cakes Café Bar, on Parker Street at Templestowe, offers an all-day menu
with traditional dishes such as moussaka and spanakopita. Just out of reach of
the big smoke and peacefully parked beside Ruffey Creek, Melissa’s welcomes
guests with a large garden pot encircled by ferns, sitting beside a columned
entrance, leading to an interior theme of overhead cut out honeycomb shapes.
Cakes of all shapes and sizes glow from a steel-framed display running the
length of the café, while diners can also choose options like a mezze platter,
scallop saganaki and loukaniko spicy sausage.
For an authentic Mediterranean dining experience with a
feast of flavours, Melburnians head to Tsindos
Greek Restaurant on Lonsdale Street. With friendly staff who can converse
in Greek for those wanting to order in the native language, the menu is full of
tempting tastes sure to delight the whole family, from banquet style options
for large groups to individual dishes. Start with dolmades avgolemono – vine
leaves stuffed with rice and herbs, then drowned in avgolmeono sauce – while
for the main affair, try mouth-watering marinated chicken shaved off the spit,
finishing with traditional sweet baklava.
Drawing on a long and rich tradition of Hellenic gastronomy, Yiamas
Greek Restaurant & Bar on Sydney Road at Brunswick, dishes up tempting
village style meats, seafood platters and tantalising sticky sweet desserts. A
floor to ceiling glass frontage provides an outlook to bustling street action
from the comfort of a warmly furnished interior, where diners can begin their
taste journey with roasted pepper, feta and chilli dip, served with pita bread.
Move on to a mixed gyros plate with tender marinated lamb, chicken, tzatziki,
chips and salad, or garlic prawn skewers with a village salad.
Nike into NSW:
Meet friends for a flavoursome Greek inspired dinner at Georgia’s
Kitchen on Illawarra Road at Marrickville, just a stone’s throw from Cooks
River. A combination of exposed brick walls, high ceilings and thick timber
beams create a down-to-earth rusticity, warmed by a handful of comfortable
couches and smell of aromatic coffee. Opt to start with tzatziki dip with warm
pita bread, then delve into the likes of kleftiko – slow cooked lamb shoulder
in a lemon and oregano sauce, served with lemon potatoes and green beans. For a
sweet treat, try loukoumades – housemade honey puffs with walnuts.
Aristotle's seared scallops with cauliflower puree.
Nestled in the sought after location of Sydney’s lower North
Shore, sits a little slice of Greece at Aristotle’s
Neutral Bay restaurant. A modern interior captures the sophistication and
glamour of the shipping magnate it was named after, with polished concrete,
white table linen, mirrored walls and plush booth seating under pendent lights.
Choose from shared plates of halloumi with pomegranate, red grapes, honey,
balsamic, oregano and walnuts; before Aristotle’s lamb moussaka with eggplant,
potato, tomato and kefalotyri cream, teamed with a classic Greek village salad.
Fresh ingredients and inherited recipes make Gyros
Fix on Queens Road at Five Dock, a popular choice among locals. This
establishment offers a light and bright space where diners come to enjoy tasty
fare with friends in a welcoming ambiance, the creation of a father and son
team with family roots in the Greek town of Nafpaktos. Choose flavoursome
combinations bursting from gyros and skepasti – chargrilled pita stuffed with
spit roasted meat and vegetables – such as pork with tomato, onion, tzatziki,
special sauce and hot chips.
Plating up an authentic slice of heritage, Greek
on Baylis brings the taste of the Aegean to Wagga Wagga. Blending mellow
yellow walls, blond wood floors and touches of blue and white, this light,
bright and cheerful restaurant celebrates all things family, food and love.
Take a seat by the large glass frontage and admire colourful artwork adorning
the walls, while contemplating a menu ouzing with traditional fare such as
spanakopita with wild spinach, crumbled feta and fresh herbs; or feast like a
Greek with a chargrilled selection of meats, teamed with pita, chips, tzatziki
Serving up authentic food like Yia-yia makes Brisbane
foodies get their souvlaki fix from That
Greek Truck as it trundles around the city. Setting up at various venues,
markets and festivals, this food truck has diners salivating over
mouth-watering meat marinated in olive oil, salt, pepper and Greek oregano,
before being barbequed on board. Wrap your hands around a warm toasted pita,
exploding with fillings of chicken, pork or lamb and topped with lettuce,
tomato, onion and house special mustard mayo; or mix and match a tasting plate
with meat and grilled vegetables.
Revel in authentic fare and flirty cocktails at Let’s
Do Greek on Macalister Street at Mackay. This traditional blue and white themed
restaurant, where diners lounge alongside a wall mural depicting the beauty of
the Greek Islands, embraces a sleek marble bar, Doric inspired columns and a
lively atmosphere. Raise a glass of ouzo and celebrate Independence Day with
share plates of marinated pickled octopus, spicy meatballs cooked in a rich
herb and tomato salsa and slow baked lamb, with root vegetables. Finish with
kataifi – baked shredded pastry topped with vanilla custard and Chantilly
Visit the Mediterranean without leaving Coolangatta at Xenia
Grill on the corner of Marine Parade and McLean Street. Well suited to the
tropical, laidback style of the Gold Coast, this restaurant sets the scene with
aqua tones and vibrant paintings, while a breezy alfresco area brings the
ambiance inside with friendly locals cruising up from the beach for lunch or
dinner. To satisfy ravenous hunger, choose platters such as Apollo’s meaty
feast, with sausage, lamb and chicken from the spit, moussaka, pork kalamakia,
pita, tzatziki and chips; followed by Nutella doughnuts with walnuts, honey and
Still looking for a place to get your Greek on? Click here for more restaurants in your area.