Alpha, Sydney CBD ($$)

Address: 238 Castlereagh Street Sydney NSW

Tel: (02) 9098 1111

Website:

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Upon my return from Sri Lanka and Singapore, MDS and I organised a dinner to catch up on all the goss and happenings of the past three weeks.

We decided to give Alpha a go as we had been wanting to try it out for a while.

I emailed the restaurant to try to make a booking for 5.30pm, but received a response saying that they only open at 6.00pm and were booked out that night (a Thursday). They mentioned that they leave the bar seats open for walk-ins and suggested we give that a go.

MDS and I had a drink at Strattons nearby and then headed over to Alpha to grab a seat at the bar.

Atmosphere

The exterior is fresh and elegant with the blue and white facade reflecting the beautiful buildings of the same colours in Greece. As the restaurant is new, everything has that lovely clean and modern look and the furniture also reflects this with resort-style modern cane chairs, big cushions and plenty of marble and stone accents.

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MDS and I both thought the restaurant was tastefully decorated and the bar area with bottles of alcohol and jars of olives and pickled lemon added some colour and excitement to the space.

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Service

Service was fantastic.

From the minute we sat down our waiter was helpful, friendly and polite.

We started off with our fave, LLBs.

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He explained to us that the amount of food we had ordered might be a little too much as the Spanakopita was quite a large dish, and he suggested we order one less item.  I have never had a waiter say that to me before as it is usually in the interests of the restaurant for guests to order more. Needless to say we appreciated his honesty and his advice proved to be true as we still had some Spanakopita left over after ordering one less item!

Food came out quickly and we had a uneventful meal.

Food

We ordered a number of dishes to share.

To start off, we had the Pita Bread ($2.00 per person) with Taramosalata ($10.00).

The Pita was soft, slightly garlicky, and drizzled lightly with olive oil. It was delicious, and much better than the pita we had at Xanthi in Westfields.

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Next was the Ouzu Ocean Trout ($11.00).  We didn’t really read the menu properly and when the dish came out as raw fish, MDS was a bit reluctant to try it as she isn’t a raw fish person.

Fortunately the fennel, sumac onions, grapefruit and pomegranate freshened up the dish a bit and MDS was able to try the trout and salad together. She said she didn’t mind it too much.

I really enjoyed the fresh and smooth trout and the crunchy fennel salad.

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Next up were the Soutsoukakia Greek Meatballs ($11.00) with red wine, tomato and cumin.

They came presented in a small bowl with three long meatballs covered in a thick sauce and topped with fresh herbs. MDS commented that there wasn’t enough sauce for the meatballs, and I agreed.  We both enjoyed them nonetheless as the meatballs were tender and flavoursome with a strong cumin taste.

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We ordered a Spanakopita ($16.00), a traditional Greek spinach and feta pie.

The Spanakopita takes about 25 minutes to come out as it is baked upon order. We knew this when we ordered and were OK with it as we could enjoy the other dishes first.

The dish was well presented in a cute little flat (and very hot) pan.  It had a beautiful crispy and golden crust and the filling was the perfect proportion of spinach and feta with a good amount of salt.

MDS and I both had two pieces each and would have had more if we could have fit it in 🙂

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Overall, Alpha is a great new venue, perfect for business or pleasure with its modern and elegant interior and excellent service.

Rating:

I would rate my experience (out of 10):

  • Service- 8.5
  • Food- 8
  • Ambience- 8
  • Value – 7.5

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Subterranean Grill GPO, Martin Place Sydney ($)

Address: GPO Building, 1 Martin Place Sydney NSW

Tel: (02) 9229 7700

Website: http://www.gposydney.com/Sydneys-Best-Greek,-Mediterranean-Traven-and-Restaurant,-Subterranean-Bar-and-Grill-22.html

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A short while ago, I visited GPO with some friends.

I hadn’t actually been there before, despite it being a popular dining spot in the city, so I was really excited to check it out and try some of the food on offer.

After walking around the ground floor twice, I finally decided to go with the Subterranean Grill as they had the best variety, prices and quantity.

Atmosphere

The atmosphere at GPO is pretty chilled.

You feel like you’re in some elegant New York bar after work, with all the suits and fancy wine drinkers around.

There are heaps of places to choose from, including a cheese and wine bar, an oyster bar, tapas, a pizza bar, a salad bar, an Indian restaurant, a Greek grill, and a sushi train. Basically everything you could possible want!

Service

Service on the lower ground varies depending on where you go. If you eat within one of the restaurants you may get better service. In our case, we chose to eat in the middle areas, outside the restaurants so we did not have much service, apart from ordering our food.

I chose to visit Subterranean Grill and the guy at the bar was very friendly, striking up a conversation about work and what it is like working late nights at a bar.

He was pretty friendly, and I was also glad to find that my food came out within about 10 minutes.

Food

I decided to order the delicious Chicken Souvlaki plate ($14.50), which came with a chicken skewer (200g), served with housemade grilled pita bread, salad, tzatziki and chips.

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The platter was amazing. For the price, I was surprised at how much food there was.

The chicken was so tender and the flavours were perfectly balanced = read: delicious! There was plenty of chicken meat and it was all very well cooked, and just charred.

The tzatziki was tasty and lemony, while the fresh salad added some colour to the plate and was great wrapped in the pita with the chicken.

The addition of chips made the dish very filling and substantial, and the chips were crunchy and extremely well cooked.

Overall, the dish was amazing and I would definitely come back to try it again. In fact, I am almost drooling just thinking about it!

My friends ordered pizzas from the GPO pizza bar nearby. She is vegetarian, so she opted for the Ortolona, with mozzarella, eggplant, zucchini and mushroom ($14.90).

1I tried a piece and definitely agreed that it was tasty, with a fantastic soft yet crisp base, obviously one of the two main elements of a pizza (the base and the toppings).

There were plenty of toppings, and they were spiced up with my friend’s addition of chilli flakes, a special touch!

Cost

My meal cost $14.50. I also bought a Lemon Lime Bitters.

Rating:

Overall I would rate my experience (out of 10):

  • Service- 5
  • Food- 8
  • Ambience- .5
  • Value – 8.

Subterranean Bar and Grill on Urbanspoon

Xanthi, Sydney CBD, ($$)

Address: Level 6, Westfield Sydney, Cnr Pitt and Market Street Sydney NSW

Website: http://www.xanthi.com.au

Tel: (02) 9232 8535

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I hadn’t seen my law friends for a very long time so I decided to organise dinner after work one Wednesday night.

I booked for 7 of us at Xanthi, in the Sydney CBD, a convenient location for those of us who work in the city (almost everyone!).

Atmosphere

The restaurant itself is beautifully decorated. There are gorgeous mosaics on the outside walls, a large beige curtain draped from the roof to the sides of the room, and beautiful glass mosaic candles on the tables. Small booths on one side of the room make the space cosy and inviting, while mood lighting gives it a comfortable yet stylish look.

Service

Service was quite good. Our orders were promptly taken and I noticed that they were very good with trying to up-sell items on the menu (although not good enough to convince a bunch of lawyers)!  At the mere mention of the banquet menu by one of my friends, a waiter rushed over to our table to explain what was included in the $58 menu. Although we decided not to go for that menu, I thought it was quite a good selling attempt!

The service was generally quite fast and we didn’t experience any major faults or mistakes with it.

Food

For entrees we decided to order the Dips with Pita bread. This included taramosalata (a garlicky salmon roe dip), a bright pink beetroot and feta dip, and skordalia (a garlic sauce dip). We ordered an extra side of bread for ($4.00, to go with it as well. The dips were delicious and so flavoursome. I have tried skordalia and the beetroot dip before, but have never had taramosalata. I have to say it was my favourite dip of them all as it was garlicky and had the most flavour. The breads were soft and warm, except for a few pieces which we found were undercooked and doughy.

20130220_192945-1Dips with Pita Bread ($13.00)

We also ordered the Barbecue Haloumi, which was grilled haloumi cheese served with a salad of figs, tomato and mint. I am a huge fan of haloumi cheese and so I loved the delicious, slightly chewy and salty taste of the haloumi. The sweet figs complemented the sour tomato and made for a delicious entree.

20130220_193328-1Barbecued Haloumi ($15.00)

For the mains, all the lovely ladies chose the Lamb Skaras, described on the menu as:

“Perama’s famous slow braised lamb shoulder marinated in paprika, garlic and olive oil. Barbecued and served with a lemon and olive oil baste, with baked lemon oregano potatoes and steamed string beans.”

I found the lamb to be juicy, soft and tender. The meat was cooked perfectly and the sourness of the tomato-paprika sauce and the lemon dressing really brought out the charred flavour of the lamb. The potatoes were soft, while the beans added some crunch. A delicious main which I really enjoyed!

20130220_200444-1Lamb Skaras ($31.00)

The two guys chose the BBQ Spiced Chicken:

“Slow roasted corn fed chicken then coated and marinated in herbs and spices
and finished off on the barbecue, served with chips, pita bread and garlic cream.”

They both received enormous plates of food which looked like great value. they really enjoyed the chicken and mentioned that it was a little spicy as well. I tried some of the chips and thought they were crunchy and absolutely divine. Some of the best chips I have tasted!

Unfortunately I wasn’t able to get a photo of the dish but I definitely recommend you visit Xanthi and try out some of their amazing food yourself!

Cost:

All up the meal came to about $40.00 each.Quite pricey considering I have been trying to save, but it was a nice restaurant with good food in the CBD, so not too bad.

Rating:

Overall I would rate my dining experience (out of 10):

  • Service- 7
  • Food- 7.75
  • Ambience- 7.5
  • Value – 7

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