When our thoughts turn to an idyllic summer setting, many of us think of the Greek Islands. The white houses covered with a layer of plaster (Sovas in Greek) with their cerulean domes, that provide such a magnificent backdrop to the azure blue of the Aegean Sea, herald the sheer hedonism of indulging in a feast of traditional Greek food with our family and friends. Life doesn’t get much better than this!
Photo courtesy Oia via Photopin and Creative Commons
But even if you are not going to Mykonos, Santorini, Corfu or Rhodes anytime soon, you can still indulge in the tradition of Filoxenia (to show hospitality to all) by paying a visit to Zeus Street Greek, Shop S13/14 Little Stanley Street, South Bank.
I was lucky enough to be invited to a Christmas lunch at Zeus Street Greek last week to sample the souvla-pitas, salads and dips, sides, sweets and beverages on offer, and enjoy the company some food bloggers, including two Australian-Hellenic sisters with an encyclopedic knowledge of Greek cuisine, and some young women who are sure to be the up-and-coming public relations stars of the future. In short, there was much for me to experience and learn.
It was very easy to feel at home at Zeus Street Greek – the decor is sleek yet warm and inviting, with the open kitchen running the length of the entire venue framed by white brick tiles and shelves stacked with olive oil, Mythos beer and potted succulents. Signs reading ‘Welcome to our home’ and ‘We’re not just your new neighbours, we’re your new family’ add to the comfortable ambience of the restaurant, and while interesting design details give the space a modern feel, authentic touches like an icon of the Virgin Mary and jars of Greek honey are timely reminders of the restaurant’s heritage.
To start our Greek feast we were offered the Zeus Street Greek Dip Tria – the three signature dips: Tzatziki – Greek yoghurt, cucumber roasted garlic and dill (a perfect choice for the gluten intolerant), Spicy Feta – Greek feta, roasted capsicum, chilli, fresh herbs and cracked wheat, and Tarma – cured white fish roe dip accompanied by the house-made pita bread. These looked so enticing and mouth-watering I quite literally forgot my manners and eagerly sampled a little of each!
I am a blogger but a digital dinosaur and realised that I had broken the protocol of eating before allowing the others time to take photos on their phones, so they could immediately post them to Instagram. Fortunately I was forgiven, and watched in awe as one Australian-Hellenic sister’s nimble fingers uploaded her perfectly filtered images to Instragram in what seemed merely a matter of seconds.
The second Australian-Hellenic sister confirmed my opinion that the dips were as flavorsome and as good as any made in a Greek home kitchen, and we also discussed the options for the next course of offerings on the menu – From the Souvla – Pitas. “What sort of meat do you like, pork, lamb or chicken?”, she asked. I was spoilt for choice, and had a hard time deciding. I liked the sound of the Spartan Chicken served with Aegean slaw, preserved lemon mayo, caramelized onion and parsley, but also wanted to taste the Uncle ‘Tzimmy’ Classic – Lamb – Zeus Street Greek signature lamb dish with tomato, tzatzki, onion, paprika and chips, wrapped in pita.
After much pondering, I decided to go with something completely different and ordered the Soft Shell Crab – a lightly fried soft shell crab with Aegean slaw, preserved lemon mayo, caramelised onion, sweet chilli and coriander. And I wasn’t disappointed – it was delicious!
To accompany our pitas, we also shared sides which included, spanakopita, corn cobs, salads, and another Zeus Street Greek signature dish, fetta and oregano chips.
As it was a very hot day, most of us chose to drink water (sparkling or still), and for those who did choose to indulge, the Cool Woods Chardonnay from South Australia (2014 vintage) was on offer at each table. I enjoyed a glass and found it complemented the food perfectly, but if you would like a more expert opinion, see the Cool Woods Chardonnay Winemaker Notes.
Unfortunately, I had to leave before dessert but these offerings are equally as impressive as the dips, sides and pitas. Most of us used to have to wait for Paniyiri – the annual Greek festival held at Musgrave Park, West End – to get our annual fix of honey puffs (or loukoumades), but not any more. This much-loved favourite, and a chocolate version, are on the Zeus Street Greek menu all year round.
Other sweet options included bougatsa – a vanilla bean custard, wrapped in filo pastry served warm, dusted with cinnamon and icing sugar, and two flavours of ice-cream: mastic vanilla and chocolate halva.
If you need help with any of your menu choices, you can always ask Zeus Street Greek’s brand manager, Franciso, to assist you. He is not Greek (he’s 100 per cent Mexican) but Fransciso will provide you with the very best of Hellenic hospitality and service.
Regardless of whether you are Greek or not, everyone is welcome to join the Zeus Street Greek family. From a culture that gave us Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle, Zeus’s philosophy is simple – to honour Greek heritage and take pride and joy in using time-honoured methods and family recipes to make real food, with integrity, taste and freshness.
So why not take on board the spirit of Filoxenia and gather together your friends and family and make a booking at Zeus Street Greek to celebrate the festive season (Kalá Christoúgenna or Καλά Χριστούγεννα)! There will something on offer for all – even those fussy eaters are catered for with several menu options for vegetarians and for those who prefer gluten-free.
What I’m wearing when I next go to Zeus Street Greek
Because dressing up to go out is part of the fun, I am planning to wear my RubyYaYa Mexican-style dress – it’s not Greek but it’s colourful, festive and fun, and just about the perfect frock for feasting in.
And I’ll wear OPI’s #NL G10 – a beautiful shimmery hot pink polish – on my fingers and toes because It’s All Greek To Me!