Further in CBD south Alpha Restaurant is going against the grain and actually making the most of weekend crowds, introducing a Sunday lunch service to its all-week trading earlier this year.
|Dining tables at Alpha Restaurant, Castlereagh Street, Sydney|
The stunning, bright, contemporary fitout helps, presenting both a traditional and modern Greece, as do the high ceilings of the ground floor Hellenic Club building and the fresh, modern approach to Greek cuisine in a part of town that doesn't have many higher-end restaurants.
|Bar and seating|
|Pita bread with taramosalata (back) and melitzanosalata (right, centre)|
The pale taramosalata was the winner of the two with well balanced acidity against the creamy flavour of the roe, while the soft dice of eggplant in the melitzanosalata could have been smokier for my liking.
|Baked kalamata olives|
|Sesame leaf dolmades*|
As un-photogenic as dolmades can be, Alpha ups the presentation stakes by serving the leaf-wrapped rolls in a pool of foamy preserved lemon avgolemono sauce, garnished with micro herbs.
|Falafel with chickpea hommous*|
While they're more commonly known as Middle Eastern fare, Alpha's piping hot falafels were too tasty for argument along with the chickpea hommous with tahini sesame paste and plenty of garlic.
|Haloumi saganaki, ouzo, lemon, oregano|
Any ouzo addition must have cooked down as I couldn't really taste it in the salty, trademark squeaky cheese that's some of the best in town and simply gorgeous with lemon and ripe tomatoes.
|Octopus twice-cooked, spinach, white beans, red wine vinaigrette*|
Eaten with a squeeze of lemon and soft white beans which added richness, the octopus was an absolute star dish of the lunch, even if it's not what I know as traditionally Greek.
|Moussaka of eggplant, seared scallops, taramosalata*|
Two thick rounds of slow roasted eggplant sandwich taramosalata and plump scallops grilled to perfection. Topped with diced and herbed tomatoes and garnished with salmon roe pearls, it combines soft and creamy textures with perfect specimens of seafood in an absolute explosion of flavour.
I, and most at the table with me, would happily eat this as a main meal at Alpha and call it a day. Legend status maintained.
|Spanakopita - spinach pie, leeks, fetta, dill|
|Horiatiki salad - tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, red onions, olives, fetta|
The kitchen has clearly gone to the trouble to source the very best quality vegetables to differentiate their Horiatiki salad from the masses: perfectly ripe and flavoursome tomatoes, sweet-as red capsicum strips and then, a smartphone-sized hunk of salty fetta cheese to break over it all.
|Greek spiced slow roasted lamb shoulder, roast potatoes, tzatziki|
|Roasted lamb shoulder being served|
|Loukamades - Greek doughnuts, spiced honey syrup, candied walnut ice cream|
|Light features at Alpha|
The restaurant offers generous food that you want to dig in to with friends and family, and a unique and classy ambience (despite the occasional fire engine departure, sirens and all). For a beautiful and thoroughly satisfying Sunday lunch in the city, Alpha has to be one of the best, if not only, choices in town.
Food, Booze & Shoes dined at Alpha Restaurant as a guest, with thanks to Wasamedia.