Review: Xanthi Bar & Restaurant

Greek cuisine has a culinary history and tradition that goes back some 4,000 years. Indeed it was the Greek poet Archestratos who wrote the world’s first cookbook in 320BC and Greek food has been influencing western cuisine ever since.

Fast forward a couple of millennia and Greek food is still evolving. At the forefront of this evolution in Sydney is chef David Tsirekas, formally of Petersham favourite Perama and now heading up new inner city restaurant Xanthi, located on level 6 of the new Westfield complex in Sydney.

A potential pitfall of having your restaurant located inside a shopping centre is feeling like you’re dining in a shopping centre. Step into Xanthi though and you’ll feel a world a way from the shops below you. The restaurant itself evokes the sensation of dining in a great marquee. Translucent gold fabric, illuminated from above billows around a central white tiled pole whilst on the left hand side of the restaurant, intimate booths with Greek rugs covering the seats are nestled against the wall beneath intricate blue glass lanterns. The walls are lined with gold curtains with the exception of the open kitchen whose remaining walls are punctuated by windows allowing a great view of the food being prepared.

Pork Belly Baklava ($18)

We started off the evening with a couple of old favourites. The BBQ haloumi ($10) and the vine dolmathes ($9). The saltiness of the haloumi was well balanced with the acidity of the accompanying tomato, oregano and lemon and the dolmathes were moreish with subtly spiced rice and vegetables providing the filling. Complimentary sourdough and a beautiful grassy flavoured olive oil is provided so be careful not to eat too much of it, or there won’t be room for the food to come.

An old favourite at Perama was the pork belly baklava ($18) topped with strips of pork crackling with a date and mastic sauce which has been executed differently at Xanthi due to the use of hand made filo pastry. If you had never dined at Perama, you would most likely be impressed by this dish however it’s always risky playing around with the formula of a signature dish and it’s a risk that I don’t think has paid off here. The dish is good, don’t get me wrong but the presentation and flavour just aren’t the same. [Editor’s Note: since this article was originally published, the pork belly baklava dish has been revised. The execution and flavour has been lifted considerably in the reworked dish]

The lamb skaras ($30.50) was another Perama favourite and here its execution has never been better. The lamb is slightly smoky, incredibly moist and falls apart at the touch of the fork. Notes of paprika and garlic enhance the flavour of the lamb but never overpower it. The oregano and lemon potatoes were crisp skinned, but fluffy once cut.

Lamb Skaras ($30.50)

We opted for a side of Greekslaw which was a mix of shredded cabbage, parsley and pine nuts in a yoghurt and lemon dressing. It;s a much fresher and lighter take on a traditional coleslaw and was a perfect counterpoint to the heartier dishes.

The extensive wine list is exclusively Greek, so navigating around it can be tricky. The staff are knowledgeable though and will happily suggest a wine to match your food. We opted for the Gaia Notios ($44) an Agiorgitiko which is a soft red wine from the Nemea region in the Peleponesse where it is chiefly cultivated. It accompanied our dishes very well.

Greekslaw

Sadly we didn’t have room for dessert, as the desserts coming from the kitchen looked incredible. An old favourite from Perama, the caramel baklava icecream is still on the menu along side  a host of creative and inspired looking desserts including the intriguing looking Garden of Aphrodite ($15) which is a sheep’s milk pudding served with raspberry and beetroot gel, fresh mandarin segments, crystallised rose petals and ouzo meringues with a dusting of pistachio and dark chocolate powder. That’ll be on the menu next time.

Xanthi also offers meat from the spit, which depending on the day can be a selection of goat, lamb or pork. The servings are incredibly generous though so I’d recommend that option only if you were dining in a group of four or more. A banquet option ($55) is also available if you’d like to try a range of dishes or if you are attending in a large group. You can also stop by for a drink and a selection of small plates if you don’t need a full meal.

Xanthi is a great addition the CDB dining scene and a worthy successor to Perama. With so many delicious looking dishes on the menu yet to be sampled, I will be dining here again soon. I wish David and the team at Xanthi every success. By my first sampling of the menu, they’re on to a winning formula.

Xanthi Bar & Restaurant

Fri–Sat 8am–midnight, Sun–Thu 8am–11pm

Westfield Sydney Level 6 Dining Precinct
Corner Pitt Street Mall & Market Street, Sydney

02 9232 8535

http://www.xanthi.com.au

Xanthi Bar & Restaurant on Urbanspoon

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Author:Jeremy Bowell

Jeremy Bowell is the founder and editor of Taste Explorer. He also writes for InsideCuisine.com, TheGrapeHunter.com, SoBadSoGood.com and has featured in the Sydney Morning Herald's Good Living section. He is an avid connoisseur of all things food and drink related.
  • Tracey Mckibbin

    Try the sand-pit coffee, it’s good! And if your brave try Mini (aka the dancing lady) from the ouzo cart.