Friday, 23 August 2013

My First Food Bloggers Dinner @ Alpha Restaurant


I have been invited to join fellow bloggers at Alpha , the relative new comer to the Sydney dining scene, next to the Hellenic Club on Castlereagh Street. Think marble dining tables, stone and light wood lined walls, fishing net inspired lighting and cane furniture and you get the picture. Peter Conistis has devised a menu that is based on traditional dishes with a contemporary twist. With a bar and open rotissere space along with the kitchen out the back you can get a glimpse of some of the slow cooked meats on offer.

fishing net inspired lighting

While persuing the menu we discuss what is best YiaYia's table (banquet style) or a la carte.  Amongst us are non-meat eaters, non seafood eaters and everything eaters, so a la carte is the best option for maximum coverage.  Food bloggers take time to choose their dishes, it's an artform that only other food bloggers can understand!

Pitta Bread
We choose pitta for 3 people and are given a mound of fluffy pitta, cut into wedges and served on a chopping board.  Hot and fresh out of the oven with hints of salt, garlic and herbs.  Perfect dippers! 
Organic Chickpea Hommous, Tahini, Garlic, Extra Virgin Olive Oil
 The hommous is creamy and smoothy with crunchy chickpeas scattered on top.  The black drizzle we can only assume is squid ink. As far as hommous go it's a good one.

2010 Kir Y ianni Akakies Sparkling Rose Amyndeon

 Keeping in theme for the evening Swah and I decide to sample the Greek sparkling Rose.  I'm delighted!  There is a hint of sweetness to the rose and it's refreshing.

Barrel Aged Fetta Tou Fourno, Chilli, Roast Garlic, Oregano
This fetta dish as a last minute choice because we specially asked for the halloumi (which is not on the main menu and only served on the YiaYia's table menu.  We were flatly refused in no uncertain terms that we could order this unless we had the banquet, so we opted for the fetta.  This dish was delicious.  The fetta was soft and gooey warm and the pool of olive oil laces with oregano, garlic and a hint of chilli from the roasted whole chillis is wonderful, sopped up the the pitta bread.  That chilli had a bit of a kick to it. 

Octopus Twice Cooked, Spinach, White Beans, Red Wine Vinaigrette
I was looking forward to this dish.  I love octopus and was hoping that this occy was as tender and juicy as promised.  I wasn't disappointed.  I had a long tenticle and it had a slight char on the outside, but it was tender and soft on the inside.  The white beans had absorbed the olive oil and falvours of the vinaigrette. 
Wild Greens, Chilli, Garlic, Olive Oil

Token greens are yummy.  Wild greens are in fact called Horta in Greece.  They grow in the fields of Greece in Autumn (usually after the rains).  The taste is a cross between spinach and bok choy with a grassier undertone.  Anything in chilli, garlic and olive oil is going to be tasty.*

Slow Roasted Lamb Spare Ribs, Thyme, Honey, Ouzo Glaze

Tender, smokey sweet lamb!  The meat literally fell off the bone as you picked it up. Good charring on it and melt in your mouth tender.  The carrot puree was good too. 

Spannakopitta, Spinach Pie, Leeks, Fetta, Dill

Not your traditional triangluar shaped patries this was a whole pie!  Flaky filo envelopes spinch and lots of salty fetta cheese.  There is a definite hint of dill.
Don't you just love the pie dish.  Loving the serving dishes and plates
Cabbage Salad, Kohlrabi, Graviera, Balsamic
I wasn't sure what to expect with this dish.  It sort of seems out of place on the menu.  However, it was refreshing and the parmesan was great with it. 
Spit Roasted Kurobuta Pork Kondosouvli, Greek Spices, Red Wine, Lemon, Oregano

 Loukoumades,Greek Doughnut Balls, Spiced Honey Syrup, Candied Walnut Ice Cream

I think we were all sold on the loukomades before we even ordered the rest of the meal.  These are a big portion of small mouthful of doughy puffs.  Unfortunately they are to doughy and spongy.  The candied walnut ice cream is fantastic.  Creamy and smooth with little crunchy balls of toffeed walnut pieces.  I'm not a walnut fan but I am an ice cream fanatic!

Galaktobouriko with fresh rasperribes and honey with a fig/mastic sauce.
The Galaktobouriko was the special dessert of the night.  Our waitress mentioned she couldn't pronounced it and tried to describe it.  her description really didn't match exactly what it turned out to be.  I realised what it was as soon as it came to the table - but I couldn't remember the name (or pronounce it either!) -until this morning when I doubled check the name!
It was a dense custard with filo pastry and the raspberries were fresh and tart with a slight sweetness to them.  The honey drizzled on top was good.  The fig sauce was light and very tart, we all agreed that their could be mastic in the sauce and it left a weird taste on the tongue.

I enjoyed the meal overall.  Most dishes I would order again except perhaps the dessert.  The generous portion sizes are a big plus, particularly as they are designed to share.  The most pleasurable part of the evening? Meeting fellow food bloggers. Absolute delight ladies, thank you for inviting me to join you.
*you may find it hard to find wild greens in greengrocers, however the summer version of wild greens in Greece are farmed and are the same as Chinese greens (with the red tinge) and can be found in Asian supermarkets.
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1 comment:

  1. Everything looks so good! Themed restaurants are great in setting the mood. They give you some idea of what the food would be like and what you can expect when you're inside. And though it's delightful to be surprised from time to time, sometimes the familiarity gives off that calm and relaxing feeling. :)
    Lester @ Bee & Thistle Inn and Lounge