Recently crowned one chef’s hat by the Sydney Good Food Guide 2015, my friends and I ventured out for a taste of Greek cuisine for our dinner get-togethers. Nestled in the middle of Sydney CBD Castlereagh St, Alpha stands golden with clean-white high ceilings and a stunning ancient-looking stone wall engraved with greek letters. The spacious room is lined with bevelled white and wooden tables, a row of large black lanterns hanging from the ceiling and matching black lounges along the middle. The clever combination of modernised furnishings on top of grecian elements offers an unforgettable casual yet classy dining experience.
The menu is extravagant with a focus on communal dishes for sharing. There is a set menu, Yiayia’s Table, for larger groups consisting of chef selected dishes, however we opted for the a la carte menu between the 4 of us. There were a lot of dishes we couldn’t decide between but we managed to come to a set of dishes with the help of our friendly waitress.
For starters, we had some pita bread with the smoked eggplant (melitazanosalata) dip and the organic chickpea hommous dip (with tahini, garlic, extra virgin olive oil). Both dips were delicious and had us all excited as to what was coming. The smoked eggplant dip was definitely the most liked as we scraped off every last bit of it!
Next up came the spanokopita. The pie was served extra hot, filled with fresh spinach, leeks, fetta and dill. The bite of the filo pastry was extra flakey-soft with crispy edges and was immediately contrasted with the supple melted fetta running throughout – delicious! It was an unexpectedly large dish, cut up at the table by our waitress, with each of us receiving a large portion that filled more than half of our stomachs. The spanokopita was no doubt one of my favourite dishes of the night.
My second favourite dish of the night was the moussaka of eggplant, topped with succulent seared scallops and white cod roe (taramasalata) sauce. One of my friends and I found the taramasalata on the moussaka a little too rich in flavour but it was definitely well balanced out with the seared scallops. A must add-on dish to your list while dining at Alpha.
From the grill we opted for the octopus and the quail dishes.
I found the mastic spiced quail a little too charcoaled for my liking. However, the unexpected complementary salad of strong fetta, refreshing watermelon and pomegranate was enticing, and had indeed brought out an unique salad combination that we all enjoyed.
The twice cooked octopus is served with white beans, spinach and red wine vinaigrette dressing. Again, as with the quail, I found the octopus a bit too charcoaled. However, the judgement was split with two out of the four of us deeming the dish as one of their favourites.
The last of the savoury dishes was the greek spiced slow roasted lamb shoulder with lemon, roast potatoes and tzatziki sauce. By this time, we were all bloated and I only managed to take in a few mouthfuls. The texture of the slow cooked lamb was amazing – very tender and separated easily with a fork. Usually I love eating lamb but this time I was disappointed that it was a little too gamy for me, and required a lot of tzatziki sauce to make it bearable.
As full as we all were, we had to try their desserts. We had a nice chat over a good 20 minutes to hopefully have some food digested before ordering the desserts. The first dessert for the night was the chocolate hazelnut baklava drizzled with honey syrup and served with sour cherry ice cream. I quite enjoyed this dessert while my friends found it too densely sweet for them.
The grand finale to end the night were the loukoumades – fluffy greek doughnut balls, coated generously with spiced honey syrup and served with candied walnut ice cream. I have to say that the doughnut balls satisfied my sweet tooth immeasurably, giving alpha another signature dish that I would recommend !
Overall, the waitress assigned for our table was friendly and helpful, and the atmosphere was remarkable. My friends and I left the restaurant happily bloated as a blowfish and we all feel that we would return for another amazing meal in the future.