Hellenic Republic

434 Lygon St, Brunswick East
Date visited: 5th October 2012

Hellenic Republic.  I've wanted to come here for quite some time now, however being open only for lunch on Fridays and weekends has made it harder for me to find time to come here.  I absolutely refuse to come here for dinner because we all know what dim lightning does to even the best of beautifully presented food.  Grainy, horrible pictures that do them no justice at all.

Despite having a lukewarm visit to St Kat's last month, I was still excited to try Hellenic Republic.  The interior has quite a similar airy yet homey, family-friendly feel to St Kat's.  I loved the blue and white Hellenic features and knick knacks.

Our waiter was friendly and knowledgeable.  He asked first if we had been here before, then proceeded to explain the menu to us.  Like the other restaurants in the Made Establishment, you can choose from their set menus or choose to order from the A La Carte.  Hellenic Republic had the Trapezi Menu which was a four course meal (small tastes, seafood, meat and dessert) for $58 pp or the Athenian for $70 - check out the website or click on the photo of the menu (below) for more details.  Since all the dishes were meant to be shared, our waiter recommended getting stuff from the one of Plates, Grill & rotisserie and From the Oven sections.

We choose to order from the A La Carte section as we felt the set menus would be way too much food.  Besides, I had pretty much decided what I wanted to have before I even got here (as a friend of mine once said to me incredulously, "what is wrong with you?" Hey, I like checking out what's on offer before visiting a restaurant because there is nothing worse than sitting there staring at the menu thinking hmmm why did I come here when there's nothing that appeals to me?)

Our food arrived promptly and the timing was consistent throughout our lunch.  

First up, we had the Pita Bread.  
The pita bread was fantastic.  Warm and crispy, with gorgeous chargrilled lines and slightly chewy in the middle.  The flavour was amazing too - all of us agreed it had the hint of wok hei flavour not unlike Asian char kueh tiaw from hawker stores overseas... I love hawker store char kueh tiaw!  This pita was seriously one of the best breads I've ever had - it would have been great even without the dip.

All the dips sounded good, but we settled for the classic Tzatziki.
Pita $4.50, Tzatziki $9.00
The tzatziki, which was dip made from cucumber, dill, garlic, olive oil and yoghurt was delicious too.  It was fresh and creamy, with the perfect amount of seasoning and texture.  There was a good amount of it, so we had the leftovers to go with our lamb main.

We couldn't come to Hellenic Republic and not try their infamous Tyri Saganaki, which was pan fried kefalograveira (a hard, salty cheese) with peppered figs.
Tyri saganaki $14.50
This was another amazing dish.  I couldn't quite make it look as nice as the photo on Hellenic Republic's own website (LOL) - in fact I think my photo looks kinda gross, but oh well.  The melty, hot cheese had a really nice texture, especially with the crispy, crunchy bits around the corners.  It went so perfectly with the sweet, chewy figs... I was in heaven and this was just our starters.

It was time for the mains.  We chose the Slow roasted shoulder of lamb with garlic and oregano.
Lamb shoulder $26.50
Knowing that Hellenic Republic has been Victoria's best Greek restaurant twice in a row, I had huge expectations of the lamb here.  To be honest, although the lamb was nice and tender, I have to admit I was just the slightest bit disappointed.  I loved the crispy skin, but I did find that the flavour of the actual meat was not strong as I had at other restaurants.   It was nothing that a smidgen of salt couldn't fix, and there was a very generous slice of lemon to go around.
Our waiter recommended the Lahanosalata to go with the lamb.  It was a cabbage salad with balsamic, honey and kefalograviera cheese.  It was refreshing and tangy, went well with the heaviness of the meat.
Lahanosalata $9.00
We considered something along the lines of seafood too - it was a toss up between the scallops and the baby snapper, but in the end we chose the scallops.  It was a good thing too, because we were pretty full by then - we would never have been able to finish a whole snapper!
Htenia $5.50 each
The Hervey Bay scallops were topped with skordalia crust - we only ordered two because MerlinFan didn't want any.  The topping was really yummy with the crust providing a nice, crunchy texture.

Even though we were already full, our meal wouldn't be complete without dessert.  I saw another table having coffee and once the seed of thought of caffeine had been implanted there was no turning back.  The image of Greek coffee was making my mouth water so of course I couldn't go without it.  
Greek coffee $3.50
To my utmost excitement, I saw the Hellenic Mess on the dessert menu (it wasn't on the website menu).  I've loved Eton Mess(es?) since MerlinFan kept ordering them on our trip to England a few years ago, so I was curious to see what a Hellenic Mess had to offer.
Hellenic Mess $10.00
The Hellenic Mess came in a nice glass cup containing broken meringue, orange blossom jelly, vanilla krema, strawberry ouzo sauce.  Whilst it was nice - it wasn't particularly spectacular.  And there was that jasmine tea-tasting orange blossom - like the foam we had at St Kat's - only this time in jelly form.
The other dessert we shared was the Soufle sokolatas, which was chocolate fondant, Metaxa dates and house made ice cream.
Soufle sokolatas $13.50
This was delicious.  Mum said it was the best dessert out of the ones we had at Maha, St Kat's and here.  I don't know, the peanut butter parfait was pretty damn good too - I'd have to say it's a tie!  The fondant was rich and chocolatey and as we cut it open, check out that mouth-watering gooey centre oozing out...
Molten chocolate centre =D
Yuuuuuum and oh so indulgent.  Sigh.  And there was the homemade ice cream to break up the richness.  What else can you ask for?

As you can probably tell, we left feeling happy and totally satisfied.  Hellenic Republic delivers in all aspects from delicious food to impeccable service and knowledgeable waitstaff.  Definitely recommended - highlights were the pita bread, the saganaki and the fondant.  Do yourself a favour and try it for yourself - you won't regret it.

Click here for second visit

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