Friday, August 21, 2009

Hellenic Republic (Brunswick East) 09

Somehow George Calombaris has found a secret recipe every restaurant owner and chef would love to acquire. It's the recipe for a successful restaurant! The Press Club, Maha and Hellenic Republic (HR) are three thriving businesses in difficult times when many are struggling to survive. Seating about 130 HR runs two sessions Tuesday to Sunday and lunch on Sundays its still hard to get a reservation. The formula seems simple. Typical Greek Tavern style, simple decor, a few lobster pot lamp shades, spare chairs hanging around the walls like utilitarian sculptures, a large open kitchen with a big grill and a a variety of tables mostly placed so that one has to weave among the to get to the door. It has a friendly atmosphere, noisy, but not overwhelmingly so, and it smells good from the food on the grill. Neat uniformed wait persons, all young females when we were there, provide pleasant efficient, but unhurried, service. The food is simple, tasty traditional Greek style. We started with a quite excellent taramasalata, ($10) served with warm pitta ($4)made from white fish roe, it was lighter and more delicate than any I have previously experienced. Tzatziki ($8.5) was also made with a delicate touch. A baked fetta($13) contrasted with these and was too salty for my liking. A Village salad of coarsely cut vegetables under a lump of fetta was indifferent.We continued with dishes to share. Off the grill the calamari ($17) was outstanding, chicken and lamb served on one plate was very good but the snapper ($30), which looked small for 500gm, was over salted. It came with a bottle of sauce in a beaker of ice with a bunch of carnations! We also tried a range of desserts ($12/serve) The kourabedis, $1 each, were firmer than I would have liked, the kaita, a half serve in this pic, and baklava as expected but the best was a dish of Greek donuts. All these desserts were very sweet but each had a different texture making an interesting contrast.
After a shot of ouzo with ice and cold water provided by the house we drank Raspani 'Epilegmenos 2004 ($64).
We have not enjoyed Greek wines very often but this was an exception. There is a grea atmosphere about HR, the food is variable, excellent in part, and the prices on the expensive side of average
.
Score 14/20/ serve)

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