Xanthi Restaurant & Bar
100 Market St
Level 6 Westfield Centrepoint
Who better to try this out with than my three favourite Greek friends - D, N and Z. Would it measure up to what they were used to at home and with family? They were keen to share their thoughts. The Express Lunch for $30 looked great on paper and also includes a glass of house wine, beer or soft drink.
First out was some bread accompanied by a lovely oil bottle and some rock salt. Some might not like this as a starter but I love it. There's sometimes nothing better than a quick dip before eating and sloshing some fresh bread in oil and a dash of salt is great.
Second out was the trio of dips with pita bread. This included tarama (salted and cured cod roe), split pea and tzatziki. All the dips were lovely and the pita bread was warm and soft.
A Greek salad then arrived and it was packed with tasty fetta, olives, tomato, cucumber and assorted greenery and dressing. It was crisp, fresh and tangy.
Then the BBQ haloumi arrived - described as barbecued locally produced Cypriot-style haloumi cheese served with fresh lemon & oregano, served with diced honey peppered figs. The figs were a different accompaniment - even to my expert colleagues (who had seen it before but said it wasn't common). The haloumi was cooked to perfection and the sweet juicy figs went brilliantly.
The real test with any Greek place are the vine dolmathes. With a description saying - My mum’s vine dolmathes with a spicy rice vegetable filling - the expectations were higher again. They met and exceeded our standards! These dolmathes were plump, juicy, tasty and melted in your mouth. They were the best I've ever had and my experts agreed they were some of the best they have ever had as well - a big call!
Who doesn't like fried calamari. This was described as lightly floured calamari tossed in lemon ouzo mayonnaise. The calamari was tender and delicate with great texture and flavour. The (deep) fried onions that went with it were amazing too and the sauce was subtle enough to enhance but not overpower everything.
We needed some extra pita bread to go with the dips - which was a bit light on quantity to start with but easily remedied.
The lamb skaras was listed as
Perama’s famous slow braised shoulder lean lamb with paprika, olive oil, garlic, barbecued with a lemon, olive oil baste & served with baked oregano lemon potatoes & string beans. Wow. It melted in your mouth and the subtle but noticeable smoky flavour set of the dish perfectly. This was a killer dish and should be on any list if you dine here.
We ended the meal with an amazing caramel baklava ice cream consisting of sliced layers of vanilla bean ice cream, caramel sauce & baklava. Again - wow. This was so nice.
Xanthi is a great restaurant. The only downside was that it was very warm inside and trapped a bit of smoke from the exposed kitchen.
I would certainly go back to Xanthi in a flash! It has an Arabian nights feel to it, great food and good service. Its a real winner.