Way back at the end of July good friend of mine MJ from Paper Phoenix PR Management invited me to a wine tasting lunch at Alpha with Greek Wine legends Domaine Costa Lazaridi. It was a high end wine tasting with Alpha pairing to every wine. It was basically the most high end Greek restaurant I had entered and I immediately felt underdressed haha. But the Greeks are very welcoming and so many good things came out of the event.
It was the first time MJ and I dined out together, a solid friendship and occasional collaborations have come from it. I met the owners of Avli Greek Restaurant out at Cranebrook and they became clients a week after the lunch. I sat opposite Maria, the owner of one of my favourite Greek restaurants of all time, Aristotles, and we have continued a friendship. I also got to eat some of the best Greek food in my life and drink myself stupid on epic wine – it was all a massive win win.
Apologies to venue and Domaine Costa Lazaridi for my delay in posting but 2019 is all about catching up and excelling.
As usual click on the images in the gallery to see them in a larger size.
The Alpha venue is located on Castlereagh St in the Sydney CBD. It resides in what I believe was the old Australian Workers Union building. The Hellenic Club shares the same building. The club’s Elizabeth Street venue opened in the late 1950s as a meeting place for migrants, shopkeepers and businesses, plus as a centre of Greek culture.
Designed by the amazing DS17’s Paul Papadopoulos (Nour, Wild Sage, Mama Mulan and so on), Alpha’s dining room takes its inspiration from the Greek Islands with whitewashed walls, earthy tones, feature lamps resembling fishing nets and a sandstone wall engraved with letters of the Greek alphabet. It is expansive, definitely inspires thoughts of Greece, and is welcoming.
DOMAINE COSTA LAZARIDI WINE TASTING:
The primary reason for our visit was to see the showcase of the Greek wines from Domaine Costa Lazaridi and wow is what comes out as my first thought.
We tried (In Order):
2017 Domaine Costa Lazaridi Rosé
2017 Domaine Costa Ladaridi Malagouzia
2017 Amethystos Blanc
2017 Chateau Julia Assyrtiko
2014 Chateau Julia Merlot
2014 Amethystos Rouge
2015 Domaine Costa Ladaridi Syrah
2014 Oenotria Land Cabernet/ Aiorgitiko
A Sneaky “Off-Menu” 2015 Amethystos Cava – I LOVED THIS WINE SOOOO MUCH
Methexis Eau De Vie Cigar
The wines were delicious – I am a very big wine whore so I was in a heavenly bliss, I actually went from this event to get changed and then attend the Sam Neill Two Paddocks wine night out at Newport – put it this way – the following day was a complete write off.
I fell in love with the Malagouzia, the Merlot and the Amethystos Rouge. But one wine that I basically wanted to marry and the organisers gave me a bottle of was the “off menu” Amethystos Cava. This is often mentioned as being one of the best wines out of Greece and is oddly nearly jet black in colour but smooth as silk. Violet, blackcurrant, a hint of plum jam, mint, cedar and tasted bread alternate in the foreground made this a perfect drop with the roast lamb. Just writing this review I have left myself a note to buy some more. See that previous comment on being a wine whore!
The Alpha menu captures the philosophy of Greek dining with simple, delicious, flavoursome food. Executive chef Peter Conistis, from such hatted restaurants as Cosmos, Eleni’s, Omega and Civic Dining, utilises the best local ingredients in his recreations and interpretations of traditional recipes, with many dishes cooked in their wood-fired oven, on the rotisserie or over the charcoal grill.
Each dish is designed to be shared, with their Yia Yia’s (Greek for Grandmother) Table set menus on offer for four or more guests. FYI: Yia Yia’s Table set menu 2 requires 24hrs notice.
The Alpha wine list reads well (we were provided all our wine) featuring Australian and international wines chosen specifically to complement the food and includes a selection of Greek artisan wines as well as ouzo and Greek beer. It is a Greek place after all :).
“Peter Conistis is the pioneer of modern Greek food”Scott Bolles, SMH
WHAT WE WERE SERVED:
PLEASE NOTE: Some of theses dishes are no longer on the menu or have been seasonally altered or were merely cooked by Alpha for the wine tasting visit. There are links at the bottom that will take you to the different and current menus on the Alpha website.
Split Pea Fava with Caramelised Onions and Olive Oil
Halloumi Saganaki with Caramelised Figs and Pistachios
Fire Roasted King Prawns with Fennel and Pine Nuts Currant Dressing
Fire Roasted Veal Shoulder Stifatho with Root Vegetable Biram, Hilopites and Yoghurt
Greek Spiced Lamb Shoulder with Roast Potatoes and Tzatziki
Horiatiki Salad – Roast Tomatoes and Whipped Feta
Bougatsa Baked Custard Filo Triangles with Hot Choc Sauce
Loukoumades – Doughnut Balls, Honey Syrup and Candied Walnut Ice Cream
WHAT WE THOUGHT:
The pita bread and split pea fava dip was a perfect intro to Alpha’s food and Domaine Coasta Lazaridi’s wines. The rosé went down so well with the best fresh pita bread I have ever had. I really had to reign it in for fear of filling up on the bread before anything else arrived. The dip was unique and the caramelised onions added a nice sweetness to the fava. In case you didn’t know fava beans are simply broad beans.
The Halloumi Saganaki was pure heaven. I have learned a lot about Greek food in the last six months so another lesson for you all. Saganaki means any number of a few Greek dishes cooked in a small frypan. The most popular being fried cheese – and therefore a Halloumi Saganaki is something you will drool over. Topping it with caramelised figs and pistachios had me considering a table forking joust for extra pieces.
Then came the Fire Roasted King Prawns – they were so big they were bordering on Australian lobster size. They were cooked wonderfully and presented as good. They left the tail on for holding and the head on for presentation but peeled the centre section. This was ideal because the larger the prawn the less sweet they are. Opening this section allowed the fennel and pine nuts currant dressing to ooze on in to the flesh giving a truly delightful taste that I thought went best with the Malagouzia.
And third lesson for this article – Stifatho is Greek for Stew. The Fire Roasted Veal Shoulder Stew was nice and heavy and ideal for the winter time it was. I quite enjoyed this with the Merlot and the Rouge but then out came the Cava and nothing could better it for the two heavier mains. The stew itself was very homely and I could see Greek grannies making this on Sundays. The roast veggies and yoghurt were the ideal accompaniment.
Then there was the Spiced Lamb Shoulder – Alpha’s best dish of the day. The meat fell from the bones, was cooked to perfection, and everyone at the fine dining wine tasting let out a small culinary groan of ecstacy at some stage. Or maybe it was just me groaning for everyone? This dish and the Cava were one of the best meal/wine pairings of not only 2018 but of all time. Heavenly!
I did enjoy the Bougatsa with the choc dipping sauce but nothing could beat those Loukoumades – so bloody delicious and honey syrup will do it every time, sugar I love thee. That plus the Candied Walnut Ice Cream was dessert delights. But the drink matching for this one was the final drink – the Methexis Eau De Vie Cigar. This drink is made with overripe Sauvignon Grapes and is like a Greek Brandy that is both smooth and as strong as rocket fuel. By the end of this drink I was legless haha. They recommend warming the glass, like Brandy, and also suggest the best pairing for this drink is a cigar. If they offered I would have tried!!
ALPHA is near the top of the food chain for Greek Fine Dining in Sydney. It isn’t going to break your bank and the food will surely impress as much as the venue. It still creates the traditional food your Yia Yia would make if you were Greek, it is just being interpreted by Peter Conistis, who the SMH describes as the Pioneer of Modern Greek Food.
SCORE BREAKDOWN: 3/3 food, 2/2 service, 1/1 drinks, 1/1 venue & ambience, 1/1 cost, 1/1 toilets & 0/1 bonus
PH: 02 9098 1111
238 Castlereagh Street, Sydney NSW 2000
PRICING: Medium to High – two highest single dishes are the Wagyu Souvlaki for $42 and (for what I assume is) an entire Lamb Shoulder for $72-
Open lunch and dinner daily
TAKEAWAY: Not that I can find – but they do operate a separate Greek food store – details HERE
LOCAL DELIVERY: No
VEGETARIAN OPTIONS: Yes – they even operate a separate Vegetarian/ Vega Set Menu for $55pp.
GLUTEN FREE OPTIONS: Yes
KID FRIENDLY: If they dress up and can do fine dining – but generally I would say yes – Greeks are not known for excluding family
*** Spooning Australia dined as a plus one of good friend PR Lady MJ from Paper Phoenix ***
For more reviews of Sydney Venues – check them out HERE