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Alpha Restaurant, Sydney

 

Like many other Sydneysiders and visitors to this city, I have been a fan of Peter Conistis's cooking for many years. Some diners remember him from the days of Eleni's where he cooked alongside his mother a couple of decades ago. One reviewer has called him 'the pioneer of modern Greek food'. 

Another, Terry Durack, Sydney Morning Herald Good Food says “Conistis can’t help himself; he feeds you like he’s a Greek mother”.

He has other restaurants of his own since then. One was called Omega, but with his latest venture he has gone right to the top of the Greek alphabet and named simply, Alpha. Judging of a couple of recent meals there, it is a 'keeper', I reckon.

The decor is restrained Greek and, like the menu, it celebrates its Greek-ness without smashing plates about it. Designed by DS17’s Paul Papadopoulos, the dining room nods to Greece’s glamorous islands with whitewashed walls, lamps shaped to resemble fishing nets and earthy hues. 

 

The location works well too. Alpha Restaurant represents a new vision for the Hellenic Club of Sydney. The Club’s original venue on Elizabeth Street opened in the late 1950’s as a meeting place - a venue for belonging, sharing experiences and continuing the Greek culture for new generations in a new country. 

 

My most recent meal was a celebration of sorts too. Like any good Greek chef, Conistis is fastidious about choosing and using the finest produce. Meat is a large part of every Greek menu, and it has to be the most excellent quality and provenance. To get the idea, just take a look at those slow roasted lamb spare ribs (above) with thyme, honey and ouzo glaze. Finger-sticking good!

Alpha uses the finest Australian meat sourced by Haverick Meats, established in 1985. This meal was not only a sampler of both Chef Conistis's fine cooking, but also the standard of meats available through this supplier, headed up by Peter and John Andrews.

This feast continued with mastic-spiced quail served with a fetta watermelon salad, followed by this magnificent spit-roasted Kurobuta pork kondosouvli, (above) perfumed with Greek spices, rose, lemon and oregano and served with tzatziki and pickled cherries.

But wait, there was more! A horiatiki salad, then Conistis's showpiece rabbit and black olive pie Cephalonian-style, a laborious and intricate dish, served with a black olive sauce and celeriac skordalia. 

That should have been the end of the banquet but....

......Greeks are generous hosts and we could not leave without at least a taste of dessert. In this case Greek coffee chocolate ice cream topped with a walnut filo wafer, samos muscat poached fruits and aniseed meringues.

The interior has been carefully and gloriously designed, but it's a relaxed and friendly space too and chef Peter Conistis and his team have crafted a menu that includes a range of their favourite classic and contemporary Greek dishes, intended to be mixed, matched and shared across the table. 

Alpha showcases the regional Greek recipes from Peter's childhood, served with a modern twist. Although his dishes are testament to his innovation, they also retain a homely and accessible quality that makes his food so appealing.

It's yia-yia food for when you also want to eat out in lovely surroundings.

- reviewed by Sally Hammond

+++++ 

Alpha, 238 Castlereagh Street, 
Sydney, 02 9098 1111. Breakfast weekdays from 7:30am-10:30am (no reservations); Lunch daily 12pm-3pm; Dinner daily - Monday to Saturday 6pm-10pm, Sunday 5pm-9pm.

The Food Store, streetside, offers a broad selection of artisan Greek products featuring premium honeys, traditional pastas, beautiful preserves and regional olive oils. Freshly brewed Greek coffee and Will & Co Espresso are available all day to be enjoyed takeaway or with any one of our delicious pastries or traditional Greek cakes and biscuits.

Signature offerings include a variety of freshly made pies, hot and ready-to-eat, or pre-prepared to cook at home. Each flavour, from our famous Alpha spanakopita, to chicken, mushroom and saffron, and three cheeses with caramelised onion and mint, reflects Alpha's signature mix of modern and traditional Greek cuisine.

Food Store is open weekdays 7.30pm until late.

++++

Haverick Meats is also available to the general public. Established in 2011, the Haverick Meats Saturday Store lets Sydney families take home the same quality produce used by the city’s top chefs, at wholesale prices. 13-15 Green Street, Banksmeadow.

 

 

 

 

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