434 Lygon St
Brunswick East 3057
Phone: (03) 9381 1222
If you haven't been living under a rock, you would have probably been caught up in the TV phenomenon that was Masterchef, yeah? one of the judges was George Calombaris, yeah? He owns a restaurant called Hellenic Republic, yeah? I wanted to go there, yeah? So I booked in for a lunch session, yeah? Such was the popularity that I could only get a 2pm sitting, yeah? Not to worry, that won't faze this food lover, yeah?
I love how the exterior of the restaurant looks, like a beautiful gift box waiting to be opened. As you open the two layers of doors (why don't more restaurants do this, it stops the cold winding blowing right into the restaurant), you are greeted by a much larger space that expected. The eye is drawn all the way down the length of the space, seeing all the diners as well as the chefs doing their work at the open kitchen.
I went to lunch with my friend Nelly, here she is. Notice anything about the photo? No, it's not that the light behind Nelly makes her look angelic, see the far left corner. Who's that bald man with a striped cardigan on?
Yep, it's none other than the man of the moment himself, George Calombaris. He was sitting at the next table eating lunch with his friends I presume. Not wanting to seem like a total chef groupie, I didn't go over to talk to him, instead choosing to take paparazzi type photos for 5 minutes of him. See how normal I am hehe.
After the initial excitement of seeing George at the next table (either he loves his own restaurants food or he's a cheapskate eating for free, you decide), we ordered our meals. My Greek friend had recommended the Manouri cheese, which we got. This cheese was amazing. The texture was a smooth velvety feel, but it was the creaminess and beautiful flavour that got us both going "mmmmmm" a lot. It tasted great without the fig and olive paste, but did go well with the paste too.
Our plate of Cured Meats consisted of Lamb, Pork and Beef and were all very good.
The Grilled Calamari was sensational, cooked to perfection and still tender. Just a drizzle of lemon completed a great dish.
Finally, the chips were great too. I wonder if these were the chips George demonstrated on Masterchef. They were crunchy and soft inside, perfect.
I love the communal dining feel with huge long tables of people eating and being merry. This restaurant is great for a huge group as the menu is tailored around sharing. I was so envious of all the dishes coming out to other tables, but there was only two of us and we struggled to finish all the food. I couldn't even fit in dessert *gasp*, and all my friends know that I order off the menu from dessert backwards to entrees. It'll just give me an excuse to go back and try the desserts.
Service was very friendly and efficient. The wait staff all seemed happy and that makes you happy as well.
Overall Rating: 16/20, Excellent food and I absolutely love the ambience.
Scores: 1-9: Unacceptable, don't bother. 10-11: Just OK,some shortcomings. 12: Fair. 13: Getting there. 14: Recommended. 15: Good. 16: Really good. 17: Truly excellent. 18: An outstanding experience. 19-20:Approaching perfection, Victoria's best.