Eat & Drink

The Greek Diaspora

When people ask me about being a food writer, I usually turn the tables around and ask them what their favourite restaurant is. Consistently over the last four years, one restaurant name has come up more often than any other – Perama. Though I’m loath to admit it, I still haven’t got to Petersham for a meal at Perama! My only excuse is: that with all of you liking it so much, it doesn’t really need a review from me contributing to the difficulty in finding a table.

Today I spoke with Head Chef David Tsirekas, who explained that Perama has been around now for eighteen years, and he’s “been there for the last fourteen of those years.” All this is set to change though, with a recent announcement by Westfield Sydney about the final suite of restaurants opening up on Level Six this August.

Tsirekas will be closing Perama, and opening a new restaurant called Xanthi. He’s making the big leap into the city because he “wanted to expand on the repertoire of Perama.” His new space looks like a “cross between an Orthodox church and a Muslim temple,” – quite appropriate really, because it’s named for a town on the Turkish/Greek border. A curved wall of white tiles gives way to a lush gold and turquoise interior, which gives the impression that you are sitting inside a tent.

On the menu will be all the Perama favourites, plus a few of the special occasion dishes that only made the menu on particular holidays. You see David’s included a double vertical spit in his kitchen design, so you can expect pairs of spit-roasted lambs, interspersed with pigs and goats, to spin side by side. He’ll also be rolling fresh filo daily for filo pies, and wheeling out an Ouzo trolley of thirty Ouzos, including his personal favourite Ouzo Barbayanni Green.

The Greek club kids will be pleased to note that Sundays after 8am have been designated recovery day, with Ouzo, frappes and Greek coffee in plentiful supply. David tells me that Xanthiwill only close when Westfield tells us to,” so any time (bar Christmas Day) is a good time to drop by and try his salty chocolate creamed fetta tart with fennel and orange! Joining David will be the darling of the Spit Bridge, Alessandro Pavoni, with a Lombardian restaurant called Spiedo Restaurant & Bar; modern-Asian favourite, Chat Thai; and, in September an intimate forty-seater called China Ria…Mood For Love by Simon Goh.

So for the second week running, I’m going to ask you all to bite down any bias about dining in an er… unconventional restaurant space, and follow me to Westfield Sydney for a taste of David Tsirekas’ much lauded cooking! He had me at lamb, pig and goat on a spit.

Food-Court Fad
This pilgrimage to the CBD for food-court style eateries is not limited to the Greeks!  Minh Nguyen of Xage restaurant in Surry Hills recently announced plans to build his own restaurant-style eatery featuring restaurant quality Vietnamese take-out and made-to-order foods in a premium food court environment. So far he’s tight-lipped about the exact details but he did let on that it’s slated for an October unveiling.

Pull Up A Platter
I know, I know, it’s double dipping to have something in my column AND running as a review… but this good value offer at Kobe Jones really is worth highlighting! Head on in for ALL YOU CAN EAT SUSHI for only $29.50 per person. It’s available Monday to Wednesday lunches from 12 noon…

Double Or Nothing
Finally, if cold temperatures are making it hard to force yourself out, I always find having two reasons helps! Last year’s Graphic Festival was a corker at Sydney Opera House, culminating for me in a dinner at Guillaume at Bennelong with modern day mythmaker Neil Gaiman. This year the festival on the 20th-21st August features one of my favourite musical artists, Goyte. Fill out the evening’s entertainment with a pre-show bite at Opera Bar. Their new winter menu comes courtesy of a fully refurbished kitchen that now allows them to do grill-style dishes like Nolan rib-eye with polenta chips & salsa verde.