Xanthi – Greece Feast
Ohhhh Xanthi, how I’ve walked past you so many times, to instead go to Chat Thai [review pending] or Max Brenner. I’ve always heard rumours that it’s one of the best Greek restaurants in Sydney, but as my experience with Greek cuisine was limited, I had never had the urge to try it out.
But that’s no way for a guy like me to think – I was going to go one day (and I thought this years ago), and finally that day was in December of 2012.
Took me long enough to discover this hatted gem.
Date Visited: 12/12/2012
Address: 100 Market St Level 6 Westfield Sydney, NSW 2000
Go-to dish: lamb skaras
Xanthi has great decor – I know next to nothing about Greek architecture or styling, but Xanthi’s decor is very unique. Perhaps this is what it’s like? It’s very colourful, very Mediterranean, and I love it!
Xanthi uses an open kitchen, which I always find awesome. Watching chefs do their thing is just fascinating – the story behind the food I eat, as it were.
Oh boy, nice blown highlight on the lemon there Shen.
In any case, our first course is a tasting plate to share – Greek tapas as it were. The smoked eel croquettes had the hot, soft and fluffy inner texture surrounded by a deep fried, crispy outer shell that’s a signature of croquettes. The taste was very good as well – whereas a bad croquette generally has little to no taste, these were rich in starchiness and umami from the eel.
Quite rich though, so best not to eat more than one or two.
Fluffy insides mmmm (Y).
The second tasting plate, the pork sheftalia, came as small, flat circles of well-seasoned pork. Unlike normal sausages that use sausage casing, Sheftalies uses caul fat as the outer membrane. The result is not exactly healthy, but is very aromatically enticing. Texturally, it’s tender and chewy, with good consistency.
Think of it as a very well made, somewhat exotic and spicy sauce. I really like it, as it appeals to my natural disposition towards foods that are rich in spices. Delicious stuff.
A delicious rendering of lamb in the form of lamb skaras, immediately one is tempted to compare it to the lamb of Four In Hand [review pending] (or 4Fourteen). It doesn’t quite work that way – the lamb served by Xanthi is a lot more wholesome and textured, in that I can taste much more the individual fibres of the lamb. I do prefer the soft, supple and ULTRA-tender lamb from Fassnidge’s establishments, but there are times times I want to soak up some meatier, stringier lamb and soak it in a whole plate of sauce and gobble it all up. That, Xanthi is able to do excellently. Lucky I was in the mood for it, as 99% of the time I’m of the mind that lamb should be tender to the max – off-the-bone as it were!
So the texture does indeed work for a dish of this type. What makes it win is that it’s a very good sauce pairing – paprika oil baste compliments lamb better than I could have imagined with this rendition, so good work!
Beautiful presentation, though I’m not actually really sold on the prawn saganaki souvlaki. The prawns were cooked fine – they’re not too tough nor raw, but taste-wise I found it…bland. Even with the tomato sauce, the prawns never really had any natural flavours that could be brought out, which is a real shame. I know the prawns could be treated better!
The fetta slaw tasted better than the prawns, and that’s saying something. It had a beautiful feta flavour haha!
Onto dessert we go, and first up we have a Dionyssian ice cream indulgence. Being named after the Greek god of the grape harvest – i.e. winemaking, I was surprised alcohol wasn’t somehow featured here. I guess that’s still tiramisu’s ballgame. Nevertheless, who can say no to a delicious ice cream sandwich? The ice cream itself is thick and creamy – definitely more so than your store-bought stuff and even thicker than your gelato. You’ll need effort to carve through the first few spoonfuls. It sure tastes great though – not too sweet, which avoids that particular trap. The supplementation with the crunchy melamakarouna biscuit crumbs is a real textural bonus.
As for the raspberries…well, at least they weren’t sour
Xanthi’s signature dessert, the Garden of Aphrodite is a real handful. Honey milk panna cotta, caramalised figs, candied nuts, milk sorbet, mmm it’s a real milky, fruity and nutty treat.
It’s all done very well – the figs are very, very sweet. Pretty much as sweet as brulée caramel and tasting almost the same. The fig flesh themselves are fresh and that’s all I can say.
The panna cotta is one of the best I’ve ever tasted – holds its wobble very well, and is just a pleasure to eat. Almost refreshing. But of course, that job is served by the sorbet, which is excellent but sure melts quick. Finally, bring in the nuts whenever things feel just too soft for your liking.
Not much needs to be said – I’ve only begun exploring all the dishes Xanthi has to offer (they’ve a BIG menu). I think I’ve found the Greek restaurant to return to.
As usual, feel free to leave a comment or three
The Good: excellent quality food, lovely decor, reasonable prices
What could use improvement: I still like my lamb super soft, prawns were bland and could use touchup in the seasoning department
I give Xanthi a grand total of eight Caesars out of ten – 8/10