Archive for the 'Mediterranean' Category

Xanthi Greek Restaurant – Westfield Sydney

Thursday, September 1st, 2011

The surprises just keep on coming at Westfield Sydney.  Opening to much fanfare in April with Zara and a brand new foodcourt on Level 5, and then the second stage opening up just recently, I thought they were done!  But they are STILL going!  Just opened were a new Italian restaurant and the relocation of Perama at Petersham to new digs and new name Xanthi on level 6 of Westfield.    The entrance evokes a mysterious aladdin’s cave – with beautiful decorative tiles and stained glass lamps.  A bit more Moroccan than Greek, but adding to the cosy atmosphere contributed to by the sweeping draped curtains.

Sydney Morning Herald’s Good Living once put out a list of fine dining features that make a nice restaurant more welcoming. Those added touches that make you feel at home without looking for every opportunity to make a few more dollars.  Xanthi scored immeditely on two of these as you sit down – tap water offered (most fine diners offer you sparkling or still ie not free); and soon after – crusty bread and olive oil for dipping as you peruse the carefully planned menu.

All the dishes were beautiful earthenware tapas style plates.  I would love some of these at home!

The waiter suggested we order something from each section of the menu to share.  Dips/mezze, flat breads, mains and desserts.  Well with just two of us we thought we would order it Aussie style and treat it like one entree one main each.  We tried firstly the eggplant – two baby chargrilled lebanese eggplants (whole) and served with tomato sauce and some tzatziki.

When I went to Greece a year and half ago, there was one restaurant in Oia, Santorini that we kept going back to – fond memories – and one thing we tried there were zucchini fritters.  So for nostalgic reasons, this is what I had to order.   The pattie was great, but the oil wasn’t hot enough, so they were very very oily.  Three fritters came on top of a chickpea dip.  Yum though, but not good on the waistline!

Next, our selection from the Apo tin plastira – which means ‘From the wooden board’.  Xanthi’s site notes:

A plastira is the board that the women of the village use to stretch and roll out filo. The wood is made from pine trees and its properties make it the best surface to stop the pastry from sticking and tearing as it’s carefully stretched and thinned.

Our pastry is handrolled and made fresh. Baked fresh and served straight from the oven. Please be patient. Waits can be up to 30 minutes depending on demand.

Luckily, we didn’t have to wait so long, but intrigued we were by the rabbit stifatho – rabbit braised in tomato, honey, cinnammon, clove and red wine sauce and then shredded.  Hmmm….. eat bugs bunny?? Never tried it!  But gosh, they sure harped on it enough on Masterchef for me to be curious!  What came on our plate did not resemble bugs at all – but in fact looked like slow cooked chicken, or indeed pulled pork.  The pastry wasn’t light like the filo we get in the supermarkets – but it was definitely savoury and substantial.  As for bugs…. I would describe it like eating fishy chicken.   Maybe my palate is unsophisticated but it was definitely a bit seafoody.  Not in a delightful way, but interesting way.  I think I will leave elmer fud to eat dat wabbit!    I thought it was extremely pretty and good value for $16 though!  I did like it more than i like escargot though.


Portugese at Costa Do Sol

Tuesday, March 24th, 2009

Sydney’s little Portugal is located in Petersham.  Good food, great prices and friendly (often family run) services!  I’ve been to Sweet Belem for apparently the best (and freshest) Portugese tarts in Sydney.   There’s also a food festival annually where the streets are closed and stall holders sell all manners of food including the specialty, salt cod cakes.    Costa Do Sol was the first restaurant I tried.  We had: Lulas Panadas (Calamari Rings) $9; Ameijoas a bolhao pato (Clams in Olive Oil, garlic & Coriander) $15, Chourico Assado (Chargrilled portuguese sausage) $11.  

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For mains – Espetada De Frango (chicken skewer) $17 and Espeta a costa do sol (char grilled lean beef skewer) $19 – both served with salad, rice and fried potato cubes. 


And to finish – Creme Caramel. They ran out of portugese tarts again so be sure to order ahead (despite my doing so anyway!). 


The clams were tasty, with the fresh bread great for mopping up the juices. A tad on the salty side, it was a generous sized serve.  The Portugese sausage is like chorizo sausage – however, instead of lumps of fat – instead there were lumps of ham! Delicious and nutritious!  The skewers are an impressive main – coming out on sword like sticks, hung up on a stand at your table, with butter dripping down onto the plate at the bottom.  This is a fantastic venue for a group dinner – with plenty of street parking, and lively enough to still be intimate.

77 New Canterbury Road, Petersham, NSW (02) 9569-2319 *also in the entertainment book!

La Grotta Calzone

Sunday, August 10th, 2008

calzone.jpgKicking off a very long 3 days of various birthday celebrations – and the highlight – was this calzone from La Grotta in Haberfield.  Being another of Sydney’s “Little Italies”, Haberfield’s Ramsay Street is lined with delis, pizza shops, bakeries, and bread and pasta suppliers, so the competition is tough.  I actually wanted to try La Disfida, (which was said by Luciana of Cucina Italiana to be her favourite over rival Napoli Im Bocca), but alas it was closed.  So then Dolcissimo looked quite packed, but also didn’t seem to have more than pasta and pizza on offer, we walked to next door La Grotta, which seemed alot quieter but had a more diverse menu.  GREAT choice, because not only was the service an outstanding differentiator from its Haberfield cousins, but this calzone was wood fired perfection.  The waiters had no problem whatsover turning any of the other pizzas on the menu into the calzone, so I chose the Special, with ham, salami, mushrooms, olives (and hold the pineapple).  This gigantic crescent arrived which was bigger than the plate – crust was risen to perfection, and cooked the way I like it – crunchy as it can be without burning.  It was not oily at all, and well I could have stopped eating after 4 slices, but hey since I’m there…. let the pants loose. It was $19.90 which is around the same as all the other shops in the area – but go there also for the outstanding attentive service that really aims to please in a really genuine way.  The place is also HUGE, so also consider it for functions!

La Grotta 104 Ramsay Street Haberfield (02) 9799 0100

Otto Ristorante, Woolloomooloo

Thursday, August 23rd, 2007

I finally got to try this Sydney icon Italian Restaurant idyllically located a stone’s throw from Russell Crowe’s apartment on Cowper Wharf Road (a.k.a. the finger wharf) in Woolloomooloo (bonus points if you can spell it without looking!).  It’s a Sydney institution and a highly sought after booking - evidenced by the hoards of good looking people dining there at the same time as us.   (Former) owner Alan Jones cruised in halfway through our meal somewhat unnoticed – I’m afraid he’s going to take a back seat to the food.  I had the scallops for my entree – four plump scallops, seared and served on a bed of white asparagus puree, with fennel and blood oranges scattered across, drizzled with a Campari and blood orange dressing.  The wagyu carpaccio with truffle dressing, baby capers and rocket looked a work of art too good to eat – wafer thin slicse of tender beef spread over the plate with maximum visual appeal. 

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I have learned my lesson not to do entree and main with pasta as my entree, so I had an entree sized pasta as my main in order to fit in dessert. Again my favourite scallops spaghettini, spanner crab meat, lemon in a sauce of shellfish tomato brodo.  Personally I would have preferred a sauce that was either more saucy or more dressing like. This was in between like a broth, which certainly was tasty though!  I didn’t try the duck breast stuffed with apple, walnuts and wrapped in proscuitto came also with the leg – fall off the bone meat, in a rich jus on a bed of sauteed red cabbage.

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I can’t decide what was the highlight – my entree or my dessert!  I couldn’t go past the warm Valrohna chocolate pudding with honey comb ice cream – a cakey crust that oozed the liquid gold – into the other gold – the shards of honeycomb and the (slightly melted) scoop of honey comb ice cream – amazing. Not good for the diet, cholesterol, blood sugar or any other health indicator!

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The rustic looking rhubarb crumble tart was served on its own with your waiter dramatically drizzling the syrup on top to finish – well neither of us could finish our desserts due to their huge servings, but contentedly sat back to enjoy the people watching which comes for free.

 Otto Ristorante, Area 8, 6 Cowper Wharf Road, Woolloomooloo