My favourite meal during our recent Melbourne trip was at George Colombaris’s restaurant, Gazi. Both A and I love Greek food but haven’t dined at a lot of Greek restaurants in Australia and were excited to indulge in some Greek favourites.
We decided Gazi would be a perfect option for Sunday lunch, but hadn’t booked a table and I was quietly thinking there would be line out the door. Surprisingly, we were able to walk straight in and get seated immediately – a sign that we were definitely at the right place at the right time.
The menu at Gazi is aimed to represent “a no-frills, no-fuss bar-slash-Greek restaurant where you can drink, eat and let loose – without the rules”. I saw it moreso as a restaurant that focusses on simplistic, flavoursome Greek food – and without the ‘frills’ the restaurant ambience and food were fantastic. If this is what ‘no-frills’ consists of, then there should be more of it.
While we scoured the food menu, A started her lunch with a glass of Kir-yianni Rosé ($11) whereas I ordered a kale, apple, cucumber and mint Mocktail ($8.50). I loved my mocktail which was refreshing and flavoursome (and I especially loved the reasonable price too!)
A and I decided to order small plates to share between us. The first to arrive was the Miso Melitzanosalata dip ($9.50), a twist on the classic Eggplant dip which features miso paste as well. The combination of the eggplant and miso paste is excellent, as the saltiness from the miso as well as the salted flatbread worked perfectly to bring out the smokey eggplant flavour.
The next dish to arrive was Gazi’s Saganaki ($14.50), also known as ‘Syka Saganaki’ – Pan fried sheep’s milk kefalograviera cheese with figs, honey and mustard seeds. If I recommend one dish to try – it’ll be this one, especially if you’ve yet to have Greek style cheese dishes. Gazi takes a simple cheese dish to another level – they heat it so it becomes melted but still holds texture and then sweeten it with figs and honey. Add some mustard seeds and you have an interesting flavour combination with a bit of texture – it is delicious!
I couldn’t go past ordering the Beef Souvlakakia ($8.50) (which are basically mini souvlaki’s), featuring beef, chips, parsley, onion and mustard mayo, whereas A ordered the chicken version ($8.50). I was a little worried about choosing the meat version as it would have been difficult to manage eating if the meat wasn’t tender. I needn’t of worried, as this beef was incredibly tender and easily fell apart. In the Middle East, we eat something similar called ‘shawarma’ and Gazi’s souvlakakia definitely reminded us both of this Middle Eastern equivalent, which exceeds other versions thanks to the addition of chips (seriously – try it!).
For our sides, we shared a green salad made with marouli iceberg lettuce, oregano, lemon and kefalograviera cheese ($9.50) and I had a half cob of corn ($3.50) with Aleppo mayo, seeds and kefalograviera cheese, which was delicious.
Overall, we loved our lunch at Gazi and cannot wait to return for another round. The next time we’re there, we’ll be trying their wood fire spit dishes – either chicken or pork belly. Or maybe we’ll go all out for their Greek banquet. And some of their Turkish delight slab ($4.50). Whatever you’re into, there’ll be an option for you at Gazi (including 20 varieties of Ouzo!).