This was my second visit to Hellenic Republic. The first visit was during a company luncheon where the whole restaurant was closed for the function. The Greek cuisine offered here was fantastic and, plus, I managed to get a glimpse of a smiling George Colambaris (same proprietor of The Press Club Restaurant) who walked in that afternoon. Post-Hellenic Republic, I often raved to Ms. L. about how good the food was and will bring her there someday … well, need to ‘do the talking‘ … I called up on a Friday to make lunch booking for the coming Sunday and this place was fully booked. I called up Hellenic Republic the following Monday to make lunch booking for the next Sunday and managed to get a table. This was a lucky shot as some colleagues told me that one month booking in advance was the usual case.
I started the Sunday lunch with a glass of Kokkina Krasia (Red Wine). It was a 2008 Skouras Saint George Agiorgitiko, Nemea, Hellenic Republic ($12). I had this before and really liked it.
Hellenic Republic was the third Greek restaurant we’ve ‘entered’. The first was on Ms. L.’s birthday at The Press Club Restaurant and the second Greek restaurant we have entered (‘but not eaten’) was Thanasis Greek Tavern.
The menu was dated, and updated regularly, similar to what we saw at The Press Club Restaurant. Our wait staff briefed us on the concept of sharing dishes and also took us through the categories in the menu. We had decided on the sharing Trapezi Menu ($58 per person, ordered for 2 person, Lil’ M. exempted) and the courses involved were (extracted from Hellenic Republic’s July 3, 2011 menu):
- Mezethakia – Small Tastes
- Psari Sti Skara – Fish from the Grill, Cypriot Grain Salad
- Kreas Tis Ismeras – Chicken Spit, Slow Roasted Lamb, Patates, Lahanosalata, Tzatziki
- Loukoumathes - Greek Donuts, Stringy Bark Honey, Walnuts
There were seven dishes under the first part Mezethakia (Small Tastes) from the sharing Trapezi Menu. The dish we enjoyed most was the Tyri saganaki – Kefalograviera with peppered figs. The combination of the salty cheese and sugary figs was a hit. The Taramosalata – white cod roe dip was the favorite dip with the warm Pita Bread. I also enjoyed the Chtenia – Hervey Bay Scallop, Scordalia, Pangrattata, although Ms. L. thought that the taste of the scallop was overpowered by the crumbs and toppings. The perfectly cooked Prawns from the Grill was another hit. The prawns might be the day’s special as we couldn’t find it in any of the menu provided. The Dolmades was also not seen anywhere in the menu but it wasn’t that great.
We ordered the Trapezi Menu for two person and were wondering why there were servings for three (?). We looked at a couple sitting behind us who ordered the same menu and their servings came in twos (?).
The second part of the Trapezi Menu was the Psari Sti Skara – Fish from the Grill and Cypriot Grain Salad. I have had the fish before and asked if I could have something else. Our wait staff elaborated that Hellenic Republic’s menu changes regularly and the fish was different from what I had before, but he will check with the chef if an alternative option is available. As expected, I was given the Pork and Leek Sausage over the fish, which was very tasty. Ms. L. on the other hand, loved the fish which was grilled to perfection. The capers on the top surprisingly brought out all the flavors! Our hero dish of the day was actually a salad – the Cypriot Grain Salad. We just can’t stop digging into this Greek salad which was made up of freekah, coriander, almonds, lentils and yoghurt.
Again, I was pretty sure that I ordered the Trapezi Menu for two person. When my Pork and Leek Sausage (to exchange for the Fish from the Grill) came together with two (looked more like one and a half) servings of the Fish from the Grill, it was obvious that there was a miscommunication but I was prepared to cover the cost – this is for the good food!
We haven’t reached the mains yet and we were ‘quite’ full! We also knew that we had to take care of Lil’ M’s portion too. At this time, we have cleaned-up TEN ‘reasonable’ sized tasting dishes. The third part of the Trapezi Menu were the mains, Kreas Tis Ismeras – Chicken Spit, Slow Roasted Lamb, Patates and Lahanosalata, Tzatziki. The hand-cut potatoes (Patates) and Tzatziki dip was very appetizing. The Chicken Spit and Roasted Lamb with oregano and garlic was beautiful and very tender. The texture and taste of these meat reflected on how well they were marinated and treated, and the time they spent under the heat. Frankly, at this point, we were too full to enjoy these gorgeous dishes.
It was 2pm and our wait staff came by to tell us that our table was pre-booked for the following session and we have the option to take-away desert or have it at their courtyard. In layman’s term, “you need to leave your table now!”. I was stunned as this was not mentioned to me when I made the telephone booking. The manager came by and apologized for the miscommunication. She explained that all their bookings are processed online and confirmation emails are sent, where the 12-2pm or 2-4pm sessions were communicated. As I did a phone booking, I showed her the phone SMS I received which nowhere mentioned that we have to leave at 2pm. Anyways, we decided to have desert at their (open) courtyard as we knew that the Greek desert is served warm.
The unlikable situation was turned around when the manager offered to take-off desert (minus $8 per person) from our bill. She came by the courtyard to set us up for desert and also turned on the heaters. In addition, we were offered coffee and babyccino (for Lil’ M.), on the house!
… and so, the menu must go on … The final part of the Trapezi Menu was the Loukoumathes - Greek Donuts, Stringy Bark Honey, Walnuts. The warm Greek Donuts was a great finish to a wonder-FULL lunch, and of course, ‘perfect’ with coffee and nice cool weather! At the end of the day, I paid for two Trapezi Menu and still can’t figure out why our servings were more than usual. After two visits here, I must say that I was very impressed with the Greek cuisine here and the service and attention provided by the crew.Hellenic Republic 434 Lygon Street, Brunswick East, 3057 Victoria, Australia. www.hellenicrepublic.com.au