434 Lygon Street
(03) 9381 1222
The latest restaurant I was interested in visiting in Melbourne was the recently opened, Hellenic Republic. The restaurant is another venture started by George Calombaris of Masterchef fame.
It was a late seating at 8.45, but the restaurant was still humming. The setting was fantastic, big tables with little wooden chairs, an open kitchen, and a feeling of light earthy colours was a great mix of informality and occasion at the same time.
Service was swift and efficient, with our cargo pant clad waitress quickly seating us and taking our drinks order. On looking at the wine list there was a good selection of inexpensive Greek wines. The one recommended to us was fantastic. It was about $50 for the bottle. I think it was Paraga, a light red blend.
We decided on a banquet, or as listed on the menu a Trapezi Beta. It was about $60 per head. We started with an entree of small tastes including Saganaki with figs, some cured meats and a seafood croquette that was amazing. This was followed by salads including a beetroot and yoghurt salad, various dips and breads. The salmon from the grill was cooked to perfection and the lemon yoghurt sauce it came with was served in little bottle sitting in an ice bucket with flowers. I guess they were trying to set the feeling of home style country Greece, however it felt a little contrived considering I wasn't sitting in a whitewashed seaside retreat on one of the Greek islands, rather at the very untrendy end of Lygon Street.
The flame grilled meats were tender and well flavoured and were accompanied by a beautifully creamy Tzatsiki, and some handcut potatoes that you could not stop eating. At this stage I realised that the Trapezi menu, while giving you a taste of everyting, was actually too much food, even for me!! We still had dessert and fruit to come.
Overall the experience and Hellenic Republic was excellent. Service was good and the food was amazing. I would recommend that you make some careful choices from the menu, and not order the banquet. Maybe 5 mixed Mezethakia(small tastes) and a salad, followed by the meat or seafood, and a plate of fruit to end.
Another positive is that there is nothing else around, so parking is simple.