One of my best friends birthday fell on a Tuesday night this year. Not a great night to hit the dance floor, but perfect to hit up a great restaurant.
To my delight, this particular friend chose to celebrate her birthday at Hellenic Republic, yet another venture from George Colombaris. After amazing experiences at both Maha and The Press Club, I had wanted to visit Hellenic Republic for a while.
The surroundings of the restaurant are not all that inviting, so when the doors open and your taken inside into a large loud welcoming dining room, you can’t help but smile.
After settling in with a bottle of white wine we began to discuss our menu choices. The waitress told us everything should be shared.
Feeling a little overwhelmed by delicious choices and the large amount of Greek on the menu we asked for assistance. We told the waitress that we wanted dips and cheeses and breads to start as well as some meats and fish for mains. We also had a few sides in mind and she was kind enough to offer a small serve of these so we could try everything!
Our entrée arrived…
It was a beautiful array of dips of all flavours with endless grilled flatbread. We also received the grilled saganaki with preserved figs.
The dips were chickpea, eggplant, white bean and Tzatziki. While this is somewhat of a standard entree at a Greek restaurant, it was extra ordinary. The dips were so flavoursome and fresh. The bread was char grilled and brought that unique flavour to the meal. The figs on the Saganaki added sweetness and punch, which you usually don’t find.
I would like to point out here the staff. They were fantastic! Professional, friendly, chatty, educated and helpful. Like all of George Colombaris’ restaurants that I have dined at, there is an element of familiarity that instantly occurs with the wait staff. How this happens, I do not know! Maybe I should ask George…
On to the main…
The first meal that arrived was the crispy skinned salmon, with the portions changed to cater for our table of four. This dish was simple. Skin on salmon, cooked to perfection with nothing else getting in the way. It was beautiful.
Next was the chicken. This is one of the best dishes I have had in a while, and by far the best chicken dish I have ever had. The chicken was succulent and juicy and packed with that signature-grilled flavour. I was struggling to remember to eat the other dishes.
We chose two sides to accompany our meat and seafood. The first was the salad of grains, currents, seeds, nuts and labne on top. This was the perfect combination to the grilled meats. It was crunchy and packed with flavour. I am a huge fan of nuts and seeds and this was showcasing them brilliantly.
Finally, we had a serve of the potatoes. Big fat perfectly crispy skin on chips were happily devoured along with the rest of the meal.
What really blew me away here was the fact that on paper the menu items read very simply, yet when you eat them they literally explode with flavour, texture, and flavour combinations that are expertly thought out. I find myself coming back to Greek family hospitality. The food is simple, delicious, full of the best ingredients and you feel comfortable enjoying it!
To top this off, the birthday girl was presented a birthday dessert as a surprise at the end of the meal.
I am heading back next week for an Up Close and Personal Lunch to meet George Colombaris and head chef Travis McAuley…I’m going to have to try to find out their secrets!
For more information:
434 Lygon Street
Brunswick East 3057
(03) 9381 1222