Sunday, August 21, 2011

Xanthi - Westfield CBD, Sydney

Last Thursday after work, Cheesecake Boy and I didn't want to head straight home and become couch potatoes, so we decided to roam around the city to get some exercise, which led us to getting peckish and wanting some snacks, but the snacks ended up turning into a full blown dinner.  The dinner at Xanthi was completely spontaneous, as I expecting to cook.  Luckily my trusty little point and shoot was in my bag, so I guess you can see that our eyes were definitely bigger than our stomachs, and don't ask how we managed to fit all that food in.  We always managed to eat more than we could at Perama, especially in their last week of trading.  It looks like it will be no different at Xanthi, as we were savouring some of our old favourites.  However, some new dishes came into the equation too.  I will admit that I had difficulty composing this post without drawing comparisons to our previous experiences at Perama, as Cheesecake Boy and I have had many dates,  dinner with friends and family birthday celebrations that we still fondly remember. 

The reasons for the munchies was that we initially wanted some drinks, and beer was the drink of choice for both of us that night.  Cheesecake Boy and I both preferred the Mythos, for its rich depth of flavour.  The Alfa was nice, but not quite as smooth going down.

Beers: Mythos, $8.50 and Alfa, $9

I was surprised that we were served complimentary bread with olive oil, and had I known, I may not have ordered our dip, as the bowl of bread offered was more than generous.  The sourdough had a lovely texture and we really enjoyed the accompanying olive oil.  I don't know what got into Cheesecake Boy, but he really demolished the bread this time, and well didn't leave quite enough stomach space for the rest of our meal. 

Complimentary bread and olive oil

The tarama dip was one of my favourites at Perama.  They use to offer a platter of three dips, but I prefer the new option of just ordering one dip, instead of getting all three, as it leaves more room for other goodies.  Especially, in our situation when it's usually just the two of us.  The tarama dip is actually a salted and cured cod roe dip.  There is a subtle salty smoothness that I find so addictive about this creamy dip, and the buttery garlic bread crisps really adds to my love of this dip.

Tarama, $7

Cheesecake Boy and I have always been smitten with the herbed skordalia croquettes and were relieved that it made it across to the Xanthi menu as well.  The flavours of the  crunchy polenta crumbed potato and garlic puree croquettes were really heighten by the mint, dill and celery leaf in the creamy and wonderfully smooth skordalia.

Herbed skordalia croquettes, $7.50

We usually adore the zucchini fritters that consist of a mixture of shredded zucchini and haloumi with dill, mint and parsley.  However, this time we found that the coarsely shredded zucchini texture we had previously enjoyed was now finer in texture, and the oil seem to sit on top of the batter.  However, the flavours were just as we had remembered.

Zucchini fritters, $8

I would not usually order vine dolmathes, but Cheesecake Boy put through a special plead for them, and I was really glad that he did now.   I thought they would be overpoweringly sour, but they weren't.  We really enjoyed the sweet tangy flavour of these piping hot morsels, that were stuffed with a subtly spicy rice and vegetable filling. The vine dolmathes were perfectly soft, and melted in your mouth and were wonderfully complemented by the creamy acidic sauce.

Vine dolmathes, $9

I had two favourite dishes at Perama one being the handrolled Macedonian filo spinach pie and the other being the lobster moussaka.  I am sad to say that both dishes did not made it to the new menu at Xanthi, so Cheesecake Boy and I decided to try the snail shaped spinach and feta pie to settle my pastry craving.   If you're wondering whether the spinach and feta pastry is a good substitute for the handrolled Macedonian filo spinach pie, then in my opinion it definitely isn't.  There was a beautiful subtle balance of flavour between the spinach and the filo in the handrolled Macedonian filo spinach pie.  However, with the spinach and feta pastry now available, it was very rich in feta, and I found that the intense flavours of the filling overpowered the beauty of the handmade filo.

Spinach and feta, $14

I do not know anyone who had dined at Perama, and not love the pork belly baklava.  It was a beautiful harmonious balance of a pork, date and pistachio filling, against layers of filo pastry, that was a match made in heaven with a delightfully sweet and sticky date and mastic sauce.  It looked like the baklava that many of us associate with, being a layer of pastry and then in that case a layer of sticky slices of pork.  However, Cheesecake Boy and I did not recognise the new version of the pork baklava served before us, gone was the layered baklava, and before us was a couple of rolls of baklava and a piece of incredibly crunchy pork crackling instead. 

Unfortunately, we found that the divine balance between the pastry and pork was no longer there, and that the it was more about the pork, rather than the pastry that seemed to hiding in the background now.  Cheesecake Boy found the pork slightly dry.  However, I though the lovely sweet heights of the dates and mastic didn't seem to shine through anymore.  The difficulty with the current dish seems to be that, they are  now using handmade pastry as opposed to shop bought pastry which is something to be admired.  However, to my surprise I received a reply tweet from David Tsirekas during our meal, that the current pork belly baklava was still a work in progress, and was assured that the pork belly baklava will be magnificent once more.  I have faith that David is a man of his word, and hope to enjoy the  new and improved handmade pastry version very soon.

Pork belly baklava, $18

For a boy who insisted that he was stuffed and could not fit in dessert, as soon as Cheesecake Boy saw the description of the sokolata castania his dessert stomach miraculously kicked in, and he was ready to order again.  The sokolata castania was a chocolate and nut themed dessert.  This creation consisted of a beautifully velvety chocolate mousse dome that was filled with a luscious chestnut crema and was topped with a sweet sesame crisp, and if that wasn't enough, it was served with a sour cherry sorbet, a refreshing basil cream and light as air Persian fairy floss.  This dessert was an absolute pleasure to eat.  The chocolate mousse was not overly rich and with the slight sour, but sweet cherry sorbet they were so wonderfully matched.  The basil cream which I was initially skeptical of, actually freshen up the palate while you were eating, and prepared you for another bite of the lovely mousse and melt in your fairy floss.

Sokolata castania, $14

My favourite dessert at Perama was the olive oil ice cream, and I am not usually an ice cream kind of girl.  The olive oil actually gave the ice cream a lovely nutty and refreshing quality.  The version at Xanthi is slightly different, and I really shouldn't compare the two as they were both lovely in their own way.  Our olive oil ice cream was a lovely combination of pistachio and dried figs infused with Elea Creta extra virgin olive oil.  The ice cream was still refreshing, but the inclusion of pistachios and dried figs now added a richer sweetness and textural component to the ice cream.

Olive oil ice cream, $8.50

Don't be deceived by the stunningly beautiful facade of Xanthi.  The food, service and the staff are still very much Perama at heart, but just glammed up a few notches.  I do realise that I have to let the much loved Perama go now, so that I can make room for the new creations that Xanthi has to offer, such as the range of meats on the spit, the incredible list of sweet bougatses and don't forget the wonderful new desserts, they were simply sublime.

Dining away, Dumpling Girl.

Westfield, Level 6
Pitt Street
Sydney  NSW  2000
Ph: (02) 9232 8535

Xanthi Bar & Restaurant on Urbanspoon


Ramen Raff said...

Good to have a point & shoot cam handy :)

The pork belly baklava looks insanely amazing!

joey@forkingaroundsydney said...

Loved the croquettes when I lunched here Friday, but I found the famous pork belly baklava disappointing also, and for the same reasons as you: the pork-to-pastry ratio is now askew in favour of slightly dry pork. Glad to hear it's still a work in progress.

chopinandmysaucepan said...

You're pretty quick off the mark as I believe they have just opened last week! Food looks quite good and the ceiling is a great feature.

You will never quite let an old lover like Perama die, it will always have a special place in your heart. But a new lover will receive even more passion because the old one has taught you well :)

Tina@foodboozeshoes said...

Oooh, it all looks so good - can't wait to try it out!

Lucy @ Lucyeats said...

What a beautiful ceiling and those croquettes look absolutely delish!

Anonymous said...

is this a new restaurant?
i've never even see this place at westfield!
looks very good though

Dumpling Girl said...

Hey Ramen Raff, definitely good to have the little point & shoot handy, you never know when it's going to come in handy :)

Hello Joey, the croquettes are scrumptious, totally agree. We'll keep our fingers cross for the pork belly baklava.

Hi chopinand, when you work in the city, it's much easier to visit the old/new favourites.

Hey Tina, get there early, as it gets quite busy, as expected I guess :)

Hi Lucy, the ceiling is such an elegant feature. Croquettes in our books are a must try.

Hello excusemewaiter, just opened on the 15th last Monday, it's on level 6 as oppose to level 5, and Spiedo and Chat Thai are both up there too, both newish as well. It's from the same people as Perama in Petersham, it's their new restaurant, that's why there are so many Perama references.

Jen said...

I was there the first night! Been a lazy blogger though ;)

Rita (mademoiselle délicieuse) said...

Can't wait to get here in a couple of weeks' time to try it out and, like you, I will most probably be drawing comparisons with Perama as well!

Dumpling Girl said...

Hey Jen, we avoided opening night as we were worried that it would be too crowded, was surprised last Thursday we managed to get a table. Stunning place isn't it? Lol not lazy, you have been BUSY :)

Hello mademoiselle delicieuse, it's hard not to draw comparisons :). Hope you have a lovely time.

john@heneedsfood said...

I dropped in for a nosey on the morning they first opened and really like the space. Beautiful decor! Pity the pork belly baklava wasn't the same

Dumpling Girl said...

Hi John, it really is a lovely place. We were just sticky beaking too, but we got tempted, lol.

jack said...

Hey Dumpling Girl! I was lurking around the entrance to this the day after it opened, just waiting for the right occasion to pop in. Can't wait to try it now after reading about your meal there! p.s The guy working at Bon Bon said that the cafe should be open in around 2 weeks :)

Dumpling Girl said...

Hello Jack, thanks for the update on Bon Bon, that's very exciting. Can't wait :)

ourbillplease said...

Olive oil ice cream? That sounds so interesting, I wonder what it tastes like. Definitely want to try it out!

Dumpling Girl said...

Hi ourbillplease, it was definitely a surprising when I first tried it, but have gone back for that many times since :)

Anonymous said...

xanthi last night...
Atmosphere -feels like you're in reception
Decor- more Turkish than Greek
Food -
something were ok (it's not that hard to fry calamari anyway)
pork was like rubber, i know it strong word but it was disgusting!
he claims his dad taught him the craft …far from it!
conclusion, averegy food, servise was ok
medusa far beter value !

Anonymous said...

maybe his dad was a bad cook :)
+1 about the pork by the way, and the spit lamb wasn't that good either, too much rosemary.
I find some of the menu too pretentious,
the food doesn't have much skill and technique...
bad copy from press club!

Dumpling Girl said...

To the two Anonymous',

I'm more than fine with you two having your own opinions about the food.

However, please refrain from personal attacks, and keep your comments respectful.

Thank you,

Dumpling Girl.

Cappucino said...

My friend and I walked past this place while we were waiting for our number to be called at Sky Phoenix. Just seeing the beautiful restaurant and lanterns, we were very nearly tempted to abandon our yum cha dreams altogether for a taste of Greece! But I'm glad we didn't because now thanks to your post I know what to order! (and the pork buns at Sky Phoenix were absolutely heavenly). Thanks for reviewing! :)

Dumpling Girl said...

Hello Cappucino, Cheesecake Boy and I are always happy to eat and taste, so it was our pleasure. They have changed the pork belly baklava, so let me know how your experience is, if you choose it :)Have not been to Sky Phoenix yet, so will have to give that place a go.