It has been a while since I ventured down the southern end of Castlereagh Street in Sydney's CBD. So you can imagine my surprise when I stumbled across Alpha Restaurant with its impressive historical Victorian frontage. Part of the new vision for Sydney's iconic Hellenic Club, Alpha celebrates the generosity of both modern and traditional Greek cuisine.
Understated glamour fills the space. An impressive modern interior is bright and relaxed with clean lines, earthy accents and fishing net inspired light fittings. There's even an impressive Greek inspired stone feature wall along the northern end of the restaurant.
Having recently added Sunday lunch to their service, today we are sampling a selection of menu items including those offered on the Yia Yia Menu.
To start we try the pita bread with two types of dip - The ever so popular taramosalata, a white cod roe dip, and the melitzanosalata, a silky smoked eggplant dip. Both are delicious, and go perfectly with the warmed pita bread which is slightly crisp on one side and soft and spongey on the other.
|Taramosalata & Melitzanosalata|
|Baked Kalamata Olives|
Next, the felafel's arrive. Crispy shells encase fluffy pillows of chickpea goodness and come served a bed of coriander yogurt.
|Sesame Leaf Dolmades - Feature on the main menu|
The sesame leaf dolmades are soft and filled with a fragrant and moist almond rice. They come served in a soupy preserved lemon avgolemolo - A rich eggy lemon broth.
I call this next dish Haloumi Heaven, but its actually Haloumi Saganaki - cooked with ouzo, lemon and oregano. The haloumi is rich and buttery and the lemon and grape tomatoes provide a lovely freshness to the dish. I hold back, but could easily demolish this all myself. It's that good.
Next, several piping hot spanakopitas arrive at the table. Spanakopita is a Greek style pie filled with spinach, leek, feta and dill. Our waitress kindly offers to portion it for us. We happily accept, and are rewarded with a crisp buttery outer pastry filled with the subtle flavours of the spinach, herbs and cheese.
|Twice cooked octopus - Features on the main menu|
Twice cooked octopus comes served on a bed of spinach and white beans with a buttery red wine vinaigrette. Incredibly tender the squid tentacles are meaty and are complimented by the buttery spinach and white beans. The red wine vinaigrette provides a nice balance to the dish.
This next dish features on Alpha's menu as a 'vintage' dish. Chef Peter Conistis first debuted this dish in 1993 and at the request of many loyal customers, Alpha has added it to their menu. A modern take on the classic moussaka - seared scallops on a bed of taramosalata is topped with shredded sweet capsicum and sandwiched between two chunky pieces of eggplant. Fresh chopped tomatoes, herbs and some olive oil and roe finish off the dish. Being the eggplant fiend that I am, I absolutely love this dish.
Just as we start to adjust our belt buckles, the lamb arrives and it smells divine. And it is. Amazingly so. It just falls off the bone, is melt-in-the mouth super tender and well seasoned with fragrant oregano and other Greek spices. The lamb is served with lemon roasted potatoes and a creamy garlicky tzatziki. I would honestly come back just for this one dish.
And, I intend to.
It's really nice to see a traditional Greek salad arrive. Simple and fresh (as it should be), lightly dressed and topped with a gorgeous chunk of feta cheese. This salad is the perfect accompaniment to the lamb.
Dessert arrives in the form of loukoumades, a Greek style doughnut. Served dripping with spiced honey syrup and topped with candied walnut icecream, this dish brings something magical to the table. Having grown up surrounded by Greek cuisine, I am really excited by this dish. Loukoumades are an all-time favourite of mine.
A quick tour of Alpha's Foodstore before we depart reveals a gorgeous selection of artisan Greek products including honey, pastas, olive oils and various drinks and sweets. The Foodstore is open Monday to Friday and serves traditional Greek style coffee as well as Will & Co Espresso. They also serve a variety of greek pies and pastries to take away.
238 Castlereagh Street
Sydney NSW 2000
(02) 9098 1111
Breakfast Service - Monday to Friday 7:30am-10:30am (no reservations)
Lunch Service - Monday to Sunday 12pm-3pm
Dinner Service - Monday to Saturday 6pm-10pm, Sunday 5pm-9pm
Tell me, what's your favourite Greek dish?