It’s been a long while since I finished a meal without dessert, but as always, I underestimated the Greek hospitality at Xanthi. If you loved the original (and firm favourite among Sydney food bloggers) Perama in Petersham, you’ll love David Tsirekas’ ambitious new venture on Level 6 at Westfield Sydney. While Perama was warm and cozy – and often racous – Xanthi, named after a region in Greece, is elegant and rich with colours and textures from tapestries, to mosaics and gorgeous hanging lanterns.
With a mixture of old favourites and some delicious new dishes on the menu, it’s no wonder that Xanthi is already very popular. My cousin Roslyn and I visited for lunch on a rainy Sunday after a hard morning’s shopping, in need of some good Greek comfort food.
One dish I could I could never go past was the BBQ Haloumi, with its telltale grill marks and smoky taste. Xanthi uses Locally produced Cypriot style haloumi cheese, which is served with fresh lemon and oregano. To go with that, the Honey Peppered Figs, an unbeatable combination of dried figs, pepper, honey, balsamic and spices. You can’t have one without the other. They make for one epic combination.
I’ve been loving seeing Fried School Prawns on a lot more menus lately and these were a fine example, tossed in a honey and fish sauce dressing, topped with sesame seeds and flaked almonds.
The Fried Calamari was also delicious and perfectly cooked, with a combination of squid and baby octopus. It was served with a lemon ouzo mayonnaise.
The Rabbit Stifatho was a great dish – Rabbit braised in a tomato, honey, cinnamon, clove and red wine sauce is then shredded and wrapped in fresh filo pastry, which at Xanthi is made fresh, and rolled and baked to order. I loved the dish, except I found quite a few small rabbit bones inside the pastry. There are also other delicious fillings available like Lamb Fricasse or Prawn and Scallop, both of which sound amazing!
And of course I couldn’t leave without introducing Roslyn to the Pork Belly Baklava, a favourite from Perama that has been adapted slightly to use the fresh filo. Between the layers, you’ll find delicious shredded pork belly with a date and pistachio filling and crackling, which is then served with a date and mastic sauce. While different from the old favourite, this new version is still delicious, but my thoughts are, why mess with a good thing?
As I mentioned, by this point I realized I had over-ordered and we were struggling to finish, let alone even think about dessert! But I know I’ll be back very soon to try the meat cooked on the spit – every day a selection of Lamb, Pork or Goat, and to try the desserts, which from what I’ve seen look like artworks on a plate.
The staff were very friendly and attentive, and David even recognized me from my numerous visits to Perama and came to say hello. So while the location and atmosphere have most definitely changed, the hospitality and great food certainly haven’t. Xanthi is definitely worth a visit, or in my case, a second visit. Just remember to save room for dessert!
Xanthi, Level 6, Westfield Sydney. Cnr Pitt St Mall & Market St, Sydney (02) 9232 8535