For those of you that have been living under the food cultural equivalent of the proverbial rock, Perama, the Greek restaurant and beloved Sydney institution owned & operated by Chef David Tsirekas, will be holding their last service on Saturday, 6th August; a few days away from the time of this post.
Whilst their signature dish, the Pork Belly Baklava, along with some other house favourites will live on at their new restaurant & bar Xanthi, located at the ever expanding restaurant scene at Westfield in Sydney’s CBD, it just won’t be the same without the cosy Mediterranean vibe of this suburban restaurant.
The farewell feast ($55 per person) commenced with a salad and a considerable number of entree dishes.
The Greek Salad, whilst fairly standard in most regards, had a soft creamy feta that was an irresistible siren’s call for a number of the diners. The salad soon degenerated into what amounted to little more than a garden salad with olives.
Clockwise from the top-left: Mixed Dips of tzaziki, tamara & split pea served with bread; Zucchini Fritters paired with Pickled Cabbage; Vine Dolmathes; BBQ Haloumi Cheese, served with honey peppered figs.
Each of these entrees were solid dishes in their own right but the haloumi with the rich, jammy sweetness of the honey peppered dried figs was an absolute killer.
Ah, the Pork Belly Baklava. An inspired entree with sweet tender pork belly sandwiched along with dates & pistachios between layers of flaky filo and topped off with a tile of crunchy pork crackling. Served with a date & mastic sauce, it’s a wonderful play on textures and sweet flavours.
I can quite easily see myself having a plate on my own. Maybe two…
The BBQ Octopus was another fantastic dish, one that I found to be far more impressive than I would have otherwise given it credit for. The octopus had a wonderfully smoky flavour and a firm texture that you could call chewy, but not in the negative sense that word may bring to a food review.
After a much needed food break, the mains were presented to the table.
Lamb Skaras – twice cooked lamb, slow braised with oregano & garlic then char grilled with lemon & olive oil, served with oregano lemon baked potatoes and string beans. The lamb is tender, rich & smoky without the unpleasant “lamby” aroma. The potatoes, whilst tender, weren’t something I was particularly fond of. I’m more of a crispy exterior/soft, fluffy interior kind of person.
The Mushroom & Truffle Mousaka is utterly divine. Probably the best dish of the night, which says a lot considering the quality of the dishes all round.
The mousaka consists of layers of eggplant, potatoes, mushrooms, and a black truffle and mushroom paste covered with a creamy & surprisingly light bechamel sauce. A salad of green apple, cucumber & mint is served along side as a fresh, crispy contrast to the smooth textures and rich, earthy flavours of the mousaka.
Dionyssian Indulgence, inspired by Dionysus the Greek god of wine & ecstasy I’d imagine, was a dessert of milk & dark chocolate ice cream, sesame crumble halva (compressed sesame in other words) and a sour cherry sauce. The flavours of this dessert were reminiscent of a black forest cake.
Clockwise from the top-left: Greek Coffee, Caramel Baklava Ice-cream & Bougatsa, Byzantine “Ekmek” & Poached Pears in Spiced Red Wine Syrup.
The Caramel Baklava Ice-cream was another popular dish likely to make the transition over to Xanthi’s menu. The ‘baklava’ part of the dessert is that small densely packed, pistachio-laden chewy strata sandwiched between two blocks of ice-cream.
The bougatsa, with its flaky triangle of filo pastry and semolina custard filling was quite nice. Wasn’t particular impressed by the ekmek though, which was a toasted brioche topped with clotted cream and spiced honey syrup. It felt more like an indulgent breakfast than a dessert.
If you’ve ever had pears poached in wine served with vanilla ice-cream before, these ones are much the same as what you might expect. However, there is also the option for olive oil ice cream if you want to make things a little more interesting.
Whilst it will be sad to see Perama go, hopefully Xanthi will more than make up for the loss of this iconic Greek restaurant. Aside from the migration of some of the more popular dishes from the Perama menu, Xanthi will also include a wider variety of ouzomezedakia (small tapas-like dishes to be consumed with alcohol), two options for meats roasted on a spit and a sandpit for preparing the traditional Greek coffees.
Xanthi opens its doors August 15. I can’t wait to see what wonderful dishes the new restaurant will have in store.
Additional complimentary dishes were provided by the chef so your dining experience at Perama may vary. That’s assuming you’re still able to get a table before it closes. I wish you the best of luck.
Aside from the complimentary dishes, all other parts of the meal were paid for.
88 Audley Street, Petersham
(02) 9569 7534