Thursday, 26 February 2015

Greek street food in the burbs - Kefi @ Kingsgrove

I grew up in the area.  I went to school in the suburb.  I spent most of my youth hanging out around here….Until recently, the suburb of Kingsgrove lacked a certain finesse.  It was a sleepy suburb with a pub, an RSL Club and a smattering of take away places, including a great fish and chip shop (for another post).  There was a local Chinese restaurant which is okay and a pizza place.   

Recently however, with the new development of apartments and retail space finally opened on the old pottery brickworks site next to the railway came a new wave of retail.  There is now a Woolworths and new cafes and the most talked about restaurant of late, Kefi Greek Tavern, offering what they like to call Greek street food and Kefi Souvalaki and Pizza Bar (which is next door).  David Tsirekas, of Perama and Xanthi fame, heads the kitchen as Executive Chef and brings a wealth of experience, expertise and an exciting menu. 

Kefi has been on the list since it opened late last year….and I finally got there…twice in one week!  The restaurant is spacious and light (also noting that it’s day light savings). The walls are panelled with old train sleepers, perhaps a nod towards the location and origins the building is built on?  Who knows, but I love it!  The other thing that I love about it is the open kitchen, where you can watch the team grill meats and seafood over the hot charcoal, prepare fluffy baskets of pita and  turn out some awesome desserts.

The first evening I was dining with the parentals (for my Dad’s birthday).  The menu is varied and offers options for all. The best way to try it all is of course sharing and at Kefi it’s ideal.  We select Octopus Toursi, BBQ Haloumi, Horta, Beef Short Ribs, Lamb Souvalaki and Yiayias Chips to come out as ready. 

tender tentacles

First up the Octopus Toursi arrived.  Served in a little cast iron pan, the baby octopus has been marinated in tangy brine of oregano, garlic, white vinegar and lemon.  Each bit is tender and delectable.  I am taken straight back to the Greek Isles and longing for more.  This would have to be the dish of the night for me.

salty haloumi goodness
Next came the BBQ Haloumi is served with an olive paste and honey peppered figs.  The saltiness of haloumi is perfect and it’s delicious with the olive paste but top that with honey peppered figs and I’m in heaven. Another stand out dish.
lamb sticks

The lamb souvalaki are charred and juicy sticks of meaty goodness. They have Horta available tonight, which is a wild greens with garlic, dill and lemon and olive oil.  Served hot these were okay, I think I was expecting something more lemony but accompanied the meal well enough.

wild, wild greens
A serving of Yiayias Chips are perfect.  These are old school comfort.  Crispy hot chips, dusted with oregano, good chunks of salty, creamy feta crumbled over the top and topped with a soft fried egg.  Now I understand why all the Greek kids at school used to love their afternoon snack! 

best chips ever

Our bellies are full, but there is one more dish to come.  That is the Beef Short Ribs which is marinated in beer, paprika, cayenne pepper, mustard, yoghurt and honey.  Big meaty ribs served on a plate with some greekslaw.  The meat literally fell off the bone.  So tender and so very, very tasty.

full off the bone
No dinner is complete without finishing off with dessert and we decide to all share the Caramel Baklava Ice Cream – vanilla bean ice cream, caramel fudge and baklava nuts.  So many people have mentioned this dessert and how good it is. I will admit this didn't wow me.  I was expecting a bit more of a crunch factor.  The vanilla bean ice cream is smooth and creamy but I found the pale caramel sauce not to my liking but can understand others enjoyment.

baklava not so crunchy


The following Friday found me again dining here and this time we were seated near the window that looks into the kitchen and grills. My kind of seating!

Tonight it’s all about catching up with girl friends and eating some great greek food (which we all love).  There may or may not have been some wine (and one of us had Sex with Kefi – more on that later).

more salty haloumi -mmmm

We start with a selection of meze and I highly recommend the BBQ Haloumi again and this dish is just as good as last week.  The saltiness of the haloumi tantalises my taste buds.  I love me so haloumi. 

Our table also has the tiropites, pillows of crispy filo pastry filled with feta, ricotta and kasseri cheese and the vine dolmadess which are stuff with vegetable and herb rice filling with avglemono sauce.  These are plump dolmades and the filling seems lighter than what I’m used to.  They are nice.

traditional mezze - cheesey filo pillows and fat dolamades

For our ‘main’ we dive into a plate of Yiayias chips – no need to say any more on this dish.  It speaks for itself and the fact that it’s another repeat dish from last week and a huge platter of Lamb Skaras, which is twice cooked lamb forequarter finished on the bbq and served with herbed lemon yoghurt and spiced lentils.  This dish is standout.  Pulled tender lamb and the lemon hints are just fabulous. 
gotta do greek style lamb

We also have a greek salad to go along with the main and it is filled with  creamy feta, black olives and sprinkles of oregano.

great chunky greek salad

One of us decides it’s time to have a cocktail (unfortunately two of us are driving including me…next time I’m opting for Plan B).  This is where things start to get a little loud, but all fun.  She considers Sex with Kefi, not being fancy free type of gal she asks the waiter who is Kefi before she commits.  Unfortunately the joke flies over our waiters head and it's a flop joke. 

fruity cocktails

Bantering with the waiters we end up with a glass of Mastika liqueur.  I was worried that it was going to trigger memories of fantastic nights out on Greek Islands with copious amounts of ouzo and horrible, hazy, sickening hangovers…but it didn’t.  It was surprisingly refreshing…As designated driver most of mine ended up in the glass of the solo drinker (on top of wine and cocktails, someone was having a great night….and we were feeling a little jealous!).

So full, but wanting to end with something sweet, we ended up with a selection of desserts including the special of the night, which is a awesome nutty baklava made by David that day served with berry and apple ripple vanilla bean ice cream (thanks to Steve and Con)…it was fabulous.  Although one of us is still not a convert (she doesn't like baklava). 

dessert dish of the evening

We also tasted the loukamades, soaked in spiced sugar syrup, crushed nuts and dusted with cinnamon powder which are fluffy and not overly sweet.  I usually find loukamades or doughnuts to doughy and dry.  These were fabulous.


After much persuasion and recommendations and a lengthy discussion over the difference between bougatsa and galaktoboureko we also end up with bougatsa, which is baked filo pastry with vanilla semolina custard served with vanilla bean ice cream.   The semolina custard is softer than what you would find in galaktoboureko but just as good.

this bougatsa is great!

Doggie bags in hand it’s near the end of the night and we are the last (reluctantly) to leave.  With offers of music turned up and some dancing were on offer, as tempting as it was, we headed off into the night….but it might just be on the agenda for next visit!

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