Let me share a little secret with you…Did you know that if you take the escalator up one more level from the gleaming new Westfield Sydney food court on Level 6, there is a whole range of proper restaurants to choose from?
Xanthi entrance outside
Originally, we had planned to go to Chat Thai on this level of Westfield but it is packed out and we don’t have time to waste as we are all on our hour-long lunchbreaks…so we wander into Xanthi, a Greek restaurant next door. Though there are hints of luxury in its decor, with a cascading fabric roof in the middle, Xanthi also uses authentic looking ornaments to transport you to the Mediterranean, complete with soft Greek background music.
We’re slightly out of our comfort zone as we pass some sort of roast animal on a spit, rotating in the window of the kitchen and we don’t feel completely comfortable on the slightly prickly rugs which are on the booths where we are seated. I put my jacket over the seat to lessen the prickles and it helps a bit.
I would suggest you ask to sit on the regular white chairs which are used for the tables not lining the walls of the restaurant. We don’t seem to be starting off on a promising note – my friends are a bit skeptical about Greek food in general, since the last time we ate it was a good 3 years ago at one of their birthday dinners and we’re not quite sure what to order – unfamiliar Greek terms are peppered all throughout the menu but we settle on a few of their small sharing plates which are served tapas style and our experience dramatically improves after this.
The service was very considerate and attentive at Xanthi - noting our business attire, our waitress asks us if there is a particular time we need to leave the restaurant by and true to their word, all our dishes are served promptly and we do leave the restaurant at our designated time. Now, onto the meal itself – we start off with some complimentary bread, with olive oil to dip in and the waitress kindly brings out some balsamic vinegar as well, after my friend requests it. It is crusty but soft at the same time and the olive oil tastes slightly “grassy” as my friend remarked, while the vinegar packed a sour punch and a little goes a long way.
Soon after, our tarama dip comes out and it is a generous serving of salted and cured cod roe mixed into a fluffy pink dip and it is a great way to start off our Greek adventure - the light salty texture with a hint of garlic goes well with the crunchy crispbreads that come with it but even better with the complimentary bread, which our waitress kindly refills.
Tarama Dip, $7
The dip is joined by our 3 croquettes – creamy mint, dill and celery leaf skordalia crumbed in polenta and breadcrumbs. Not sure what skordalia is, but the croquette is delicious, with soft herbed potato mash oozing out of a delicately crumbed wrapping which is drizzled in mayo and garnished with a sprig of spring onion. The herbs aren’t overpowering in this dish, just the way I like it.
Herbed skordalia croquettes, $7.50
Then our Fried Calamari to share comes out and it is glorious, lightly floured calamari tossed in lemon ouzo mayonnaise and sprinkled with paprika. Again the serving is so generous and my friends and I are actually getting quite full, who knew Greek food was much better value than some Spanish tapas places in Sydney and oh so flavoursome. The calamari is fresh and not too oily, it goes very well with the mayo so that I can’t stop going back for more.
Fried Calamari, $9
Our final dish is the Fried School Prawns ($9), which are tossed in a honey, fish sauce, sesame seed and flaked almond dressing. I’ve already blogged about our other School Prawn experience, and this time around the crunchiness of the shells does get annoying again (and a little bit painful where the little prawn’s self defence spikes poke you in the mouth as you chew!), but it’s worth the slight discomfort because the prawns are drizzled with a lovely honey sauce and the nuttiness of the almonds adds to the appeal of the dish. I’m not usually a fan of sweet/savoury combination dishes but this one blows my best friend away.
Considering how full the 3 of us are by the end of this lunch, and how much seafood we had – we are mildly surprised that the bill only came to roughly $10 a person. What value for money! We will definitely be back to try more of their ouzomezedakia (sharing plates) and highly recommend this restaurant to city workers or shoppers looking for something different to try.
Xanthi Bar and Restaurant
Level 6, Westfield Sydney
Cnr Pitt and Market Streets
Sydney NSW 2000
Fri–Sat 8am–midnight, Sun–Thu 8am–11pm
Ph: (02) 9232 8535