Not for those who don't like aniseed flavours, ouzo is great fun especially when ice and/or water are added to the liquor for easier drinking of the strong liquor, simultaneously creating the mysterious 'ouzo effect' by turning the liquid cloudy white. Fun, but a serious, warming drink - this time, the Barbayianni Green.
|Pickled shitake mushrooms at Xanthi, Level 6, Westfield Sydney, Sydney CBD|
I adored the pickled shreds of cabbage I had last time, but the pickled shitake mushrooms are equally delightful, spiced generously with fennel and coriander seeds, and maintaining the softened but chewy texture of the rehydrated fungus that is so popular in Asian cuisines.
While the texture was one of the most exciting aspects, the well balanced flavours of garlic, lemon, oregano and, of course, the sourness from pickling removed any trace of fishiness for the octopus-weary.
|Tarama dip with pita bread|
All the dip choices sound fantastic at Xanthi but this time we tred the salted and cured cod roe tarama, which was salty, pink, airy and so very moreish.
|Sheftalies - Cypriot style pork meatballs|
|BBQ smoked lamb cutlets|
|Imamaldi - stuffed roasted eggplant|
The stuffed and roasted eggplant was a soft, sticky mess so I'm not sure if it were really stuffed or just topped with the spicy tomato mix. The tomato-based sauce immediately reminded me of Italian cuisine while the spiced yoghurt added a more familiar flavour profile to the eggplant.
|Pork belly baklava|
The pork belly baklava is pretty much a must-order; I mean, hand rolled fillo pastry and pork crackling says it all. Within the pastry roll is shredded pork belly that's not too fatty, chopped dates and pistachios, served with a rather sweet date and mastic sauce.
|Prawn and scallop pastry|
|Caramel baklava ice cream|
With plenty of chopped nuts and vanilla bean ice cream, the caramel sauce was a little too much for me to handle but the sweet tooths loved it.
|Plate of Hippocrates|
This array of ingredients wouldn't seem to really go together in theory, and the chocolate component almost didn't, but it was certainly interesting enough that I would order it again (there's some blurb on the menu about the properties of pomegranate as perceived in ancient Greek times).
The end bill was, again, really quite reasonable and given the size of the menu, I can have a very different Greek dining experience at Xanthi time after time. As for the ouzo menu, two down, many to go.