The welcome was warm and friendly and it was like walking into an old friend's place after they have redecorated. Kind of familiar, yet different with lots to absorb and take in. The kitchen is in the same place but opened up. The lights at the old chef's table are the same. It's light and airy and I notice the natural light coming in through the windows and the height of the ceilings so much more than when it was in its former state. I liked the plant pots on the ceiling - not really sure if there is meaning behind it.
We were too busy chit chatting and didn't want decision making over food to cut in over valuable talk time so decided to go with the ten plate option.
Drinks wise Carrie was on the delicious Fever Tree ginger ale and I started off with an espresso martini. I always loved the Press Club version so very pleased standards have not slipped after the hiatus.
The hummus was also delicious - seasoned with salt and paprika it was hearty with a thick rich texture.
I was beginning to understand the concept of Gazi. People use the words Greek street food and I don't quite think it's that but it is traditional family favourites shared with all generations. It's like mamma has opened up her kitchen to her children and grandchildren to cook with her.
Our meat dishes were a beautiful spit roast pork belly with crackling on an apple skordalia and roast chicken on a red capsicum puree. Oh the pork was crackling was delightful and the pork meat fatty but juicy and ever so tasty. I found the chicken flavoursome but a touch overcooked and therefore a little dry. However Carrie loved the chicken.
Our side dishes included a beautiful iceberg salad with grated cheese and a tart vinaigrette. Crisp and clean it was a refreshing accompaniment. And the other side was an indulgence of crispy fries topped with feta cheese and oregano. Yes George C has put his name to chips and yes the culinary crowds have reacted to this in horror. I get it. How can a fancy pants chef capable of the sublime reduce himself to cheesy chips? But then if Gazi is about accessible, unpretentious food then why not? Gazi isn't about fine dining or food that can't be cooked at home. I think it's about tasty and honest food and what's not honest about cheesy chips if it works? And yes in this case the crispy fries and creamy cheese fragranced with oregano works and takes me back to Summers in Santorini and a late night feed following too much beer and dancing! Nothing wrong with that memory!
Undeniably Gazi is not unlike Hellenic Republic or St Kats food wise. Undeniably I've always enjoyed every meal I've had at Hellenic Republic or St Kats. Therefore I don't need to be a Greek philosopher to conclude that I enjoyed Gazi and I definitely did. I'm trying to understand the reason people don't like it and I guess it's because expectations are that the food served is meant to be more cutting edge perhaps because it's George at the helm. But George can't eat fancy every night and when he doesn't I figure he goes with Gazi style delights. Although given his recent weight loss and svelte figure, maybe he doesn't eat feta and chips that often! Oh well, all the more for the rest of us!