Thursday, 25 July 2013

Lunch at Xanthi - 24 July 2013

I love open kitchens!
Yesterday I decided to head to Xanthi, the 1-chef hatted Greek restaurant situated on Level 6 of Westfield Sydney in Pitt St Mall, for the $17 lunch special. Xanthi has been a restaurant that has been on my radar for a very long time, ever since it opened. I can’t believe that I haven’t been to Xanthi until yesterday! It has been opened for about 2 years and is crowd favourite. It seems like everyone has already been, whether it be bloggers, critics, my friends or the casual diner. I must be one of the last people to eat at Xanthi (and it was only for the lunch special and not the full menu). Anyway, I can finally tick Xanthi from the wish list (well sort of)…

Caramel Baklava Ice Cream ($15)
The highlight of the meal was actually not the lunch special but the dessert we decided to order, which I will talk about first.  We decided to split the Baklava Ice Cream, which I hear is a signature of chef David Tsirekas ever since his Perama days (which was his Petersham restaurant before moving into the current Westfield location). This is a dessert that is most definitely worth seeking out for. It is amazeballs! I just loved it. The dessert is very moreish so I can see myself having plates of it and never get sick of it.

The dessert contains layers of vanilla bean ice cream wrapped around a centre of pistachio baklava filling and caramel fudge. All these elements just blend together so beautifully and create a dessert that is such a pleasure to eat. I found this interpretation of the baklava much more enjoyable than the normal baklava, which I find a bit sickly sweet at times. The ice cream had lots of natural vanilla bean flavour. The more the better  I say! The creaminess of the ice cream cuts though the richness and sweetness of the caramel fudge. And the chopped pistachio  nuts round out the baklava dessert nicely. The only thing that is missing is some filo pastry.
Onto the lunch special… the lunch special is basically a pita wrap with a side of either chips or Greek salad for $17. You can choose from lamb, pork belly, haloumi or kefte. The lunch special is clearly an attempt by Xanthi to draw some of the crowd from the level 5 food court during the lunch rush hour onto level 6 for the more premium lunch offerings.  I decided to go for the lamb wrap with chips (probably not the wisest choice of side, I needed some vegetables) and my friend, SP, decided to go for the pork belly wrap with Greek salad (great choice of sides). And since the wrap was served in halves, this meant I was able to try both the lamb and pork belly wraps J                     

Lamb wrap ($17)
The lamb wrap is filled with a lot of lamb meat, and I mean a lot! Whilst the lamb meat was quite nice: it was flavoursome, tender and had a great smoky element, I found the wrap to be a little one dimensional. It needed something more to go with the big meaty flavours. The carnivores out there would love the lamb wrap.

Pork belly wrap ($17)
Out of the two wraps, I enjoyed the pork belly wrap more as there seemed to be a lot more different layers to it that complement each other. The pork belly meat itself was quite tender and tasty with the Dijon mayo. Then there were the crunchy bits from the crackling and a fresh, crispy slaw salad.     So all in all a nice combination of flavours and textures.  

Would I come back for the lunch special? Although I thought the wraps were enjoyable, to be honest, I probably would not be back too often for lunch. At $17, the wraps were kind of like a luxe kebab (of course the meat is much better than the dry, fat dripping stuff you often find at the take away stores). I see Xanthi more as a fine dining restaurant that you come to for a nice meal with a group of friends for dinner rather than a lunch venue.        

However, having the lunch special did give me an insight into what Xanthi is about and has made me want to come back for dinner. The slow cooked meats really are quite tasty at Xanthi. I also had the opportunity to flick through the menu and there were a number of items that piqued my interest. I am a huge fan of the Ouzomezedakia (small plates) since I can sample a little bit of everything. The deep fried lamb brains, in particular, caught my attention and definitely something I would like to try in the not too distant future. I am always on the lookout for places that cook excellent lamb brains. There is something about lamb brains that make me want to come back for more! So hopefully I will be back at Xanthi soon for dinner and do a full write-up of a meal on the normal menu.        

A special thanks to SP for letting me use her photos that she took with her smart phone. I forgot to bring my camera and I am a failed gen y-er since I do not own a smart phone.
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