It’s not just the name Ge­orge Calom­baris that is keep­ing pa­trons queu­ing – it’s also the con­tem­po­rary menu and warm hos­pi­tal­ity

Sunday Herald Sun - Stellar - - Stellar Contents - HEL­LENIC HO­TEL: RE­VIEWED BY DAN STOCK

Ge­orge Calom­baris’s Hel­lenic Ho­tel.

WITH al­most 150,000 In­sta­gram fol­low­ers, an ador­ing na­tional fan club and a pro­file that spans the seas, you could un­der­stand if Ge­orge Calom­baris sim­ply phoned it in. But, as one of the hard­est-work­ing peo­ple in the game, the chef is not in­clined to take the easy op­tion. His laser-like fo­cus an­i­mates the new­est ad­di­tion to his Hel­lenic Repub­lic em­pire.

The west has clearly al­ready been won over by the makeover of this for­mer pub in Wil­liamstown, where it took the best part of a month to get our Sun­day lunch book­ing. That’s the power of Calom­baris, sure, but also the ap­peal of con­tem­po­rary Greek food.

Any “celebrity chef” hype is over­shad­owed by gen­uine hos­pi­tal­ity, from the warm wel­come through to the of­fer of pack­ag­ing up our ex­cess lunch to take away.

Lit­tle dishes to start show­case quirky twists on clas­sics: prawn toast is paired with tarama en­livened with sriracha, while spiced lamb is pre­pared with feta scorched olive. Sig­na­ture saganaki, the salty molten cheese, is served with a crisp edge and topped with stewed and fresh ap­ple and a black sesame crisp. Oc­to­pus shares the stage with broad beans, net­tles and roasted Jerusalem ar­ti­chokes to al­lur­ing ef­fect.

Hats off for putting lambs brain souva on the menu, too, where lit­tle crunchy-creamy nuggets snuggle into a pocket of chewy pita along with onion rings, while the ro­tis­serie chicken takes care of the less ad­ven­tur­ous in no less ap­petis­ing fash­ion.

There’s a good show­ing of Greek wines on the tight list, and a $10 pint of Hel­lenic Ale, brewed by nearby Two Birds with a hint of moun­tain tea, is the per­fect part­ner to a sunny day. This Greek twist on a gas­tro-pub is buzzy, bright and breezy. That phone is right­fully run­ning hot.

From top: the eatery in a for­mer pub in Wil­liamstown, the the lu­mi­nous in­te­rior.

3.5/5 $$$ 28 Fer­gu­son St, Wil­liamstown hel­leni­cre­pub­lic.

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