Saturday, 16 March 2013

Diethnes, Sydney CBD

Diethnes is situated in a basement without reception or wireless. In any other situation, fears of isolation from watching too many Hollywood movies would kick in, but I was there with friends and there were a few groups of other diners inside. It probably wasn't purposeful, but the lack of mobile phone usage actually helped to perpetuate the atmosphere of being a guest at someone's home and sharing a meal with their family.

The decor is quite old-fashioned and the lighting is dim, but the person serving us was warm and friendly. Given we satisfied the minimum requirement of 4 for the banquet menu, we opted for the $35pp menu. When I think of Greek food, I think of feta cheese and moussaka, but that's about it. It was interesting to have a broader experience of Greek cuisine.

Bread basket
Greek salad
The loaf of white bread and Greek salad were standard - not great but not bad either. They were accompanied by grape vine leaves stuffed with sticky rice and herbs and tzatziki. I'm not a big fan of dips, but the cool grape vine leaves were soft and tasty (with a sour tinge from the lemon).

Taramosalata with grape vine leaves
 The entrees to ensue were placed directly on our dinner plates by the waitress with pairs of metal thongs. The spanakopita was spinach and cheese sandwiched by soft pastry. It was probably not the most authentic version, as you're supposed to use crisp filo pastry (or an equivalent crunchy pastry) while this one was soft. Nevertheless, it was quite enjoyable to eat.

  The pan fried eggplant arrived with a very light skin of batter on the outside. It was immensely hot when it arrived, so I had to wait a bit for it to cool after burning my tongue. The eggplant inside was soggy and it reminded me a bit of eating tempura.

Pan fried eggplant
 The tiropites involved more filo pastry and cheese - a recurring theme that night! This course was crispy.

 I had no idea that pan fried calamari (kalamarakia tiganita) was a Greek dish. It was sadly disappointing, as the batter was not crispy when it arrived. The calamari was not that tough, though, which I was happy about.

Pan fried calamari
 By this time we were all feeling pretty full. Then the lamb came. The bits of roasted pumpkin were sweet and really delicious. The roasted potatoes weren't so tasty - there was a bit of lemon juice that raised its head after swallowing each mouthful. The lamb itself was made well - tender, juicy and falling apart. Probably the highlight of the banquet.

Baked roast lamb
 While eating the moussaka, you could really taste the nutmeg. It came with rice, which I thought pretty odd. I was pretty disappointed, because I think the mousakkas that I have eaten in non-Greek restaurants tasted better.

 After we finally had our fill of the main meal, we awaited dessert. The dessert was filo pastry around cream cheese with cinnamon on top and a lot of syrup soaked through. It was pretty heavy, but thankfully our slices weren't too big. It was nice with coffee.


Flat white

The quantities here are definitely generous, but the flavours are a bit hit and miss. Considering the other nearby Greek restaurant, Xanthi, is hatted and therefore a fair bit more expensive, Diethnes is a great venue for having dinner in a group.

Diethnes on Urbanspoon

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