Eleni’s Kitchen + Bar, 28 Anderson Street, Yarraville. Phone: 9943 4233
There’s a lot of family history tied up in Yarraville’s new Greek eatery.
Locals who know just how long the fit-out of the former Anderson Street boutique took will be gratified to know that a fine space has been carved out here, upstairs and down, full kitchen and all.
Surely this is the most radical makeover of a village business property for more than a decade?
The place is being managed by Eleftheria (“Thierry”) Amanatidis.
At her side around the place is her uncle, Tony.
The restaurant is named after Tony’s mother, Eleni Amanatidis.
Eleni’s husband is Dimitrios Amanatidis, the father of whom was Antonios Amanatidis, one of the first Greek Orthodox priests to arrive in Australia.
So, yes, a lot of family vibes and inner-west Greek traditions going on here.
Unsurprisingly, and very happily from our perspective, the food being delivered (see menu below) is old-school, straight-up Greek tucker.
We wouldn’t have it any other way!
Still, within that framework we find some nice ‘n’ lovely twists and tweaks when we partake of a fine dinner as guests of Thierry and her crew (see full disclosure below).
In the serve of super fresh dips ($14), for instance, the melitzanosalata eggplant number tastes not in the least of the garlic and smokiness we are expecting, but instead of zingy mint.
Just as good is the tirokafteri of feta, capsicum and the tiniest tingle of chilli.
These two are finely abetted by a tzatziki with dill and a very mild-flavoured tarama.
The dips are served with very good house-made bread, though we resort to grilled pita to mop up the remainders.
Bennie and I split two mains between the more ritzy grill line-up and the “Eleni’s home favourites” list that includes moussaka and pastitisio.
The cabbage rolls ($24) are every bit the home-style classics for which we’ve been hoping.
If I rather wish we’d gone for something a little more rich and hearty, Bennie has no such problem.
The meat in our lamb gyros plate ($25) is very fine indeed – salty and herby and heaps of it.
This meat, BTW, is also available in pita-wrapped takeaway form for $12.
In some ways, though, the top test of both our mains – and a handy gauge of the freshness and general excellence of the food at Eleni’s – comes in the form of the salads that accompany both.
Differing slightly, they are superb – dressed well, juicy and delicious in every way, and displaying no sign at all of even a single tired or brown-edged leaf.
Bennie and I are keen to go both the available desserts – so we do!
The baklava ($8.50) – made by Thierry herself – is a tender take on another Greek classic.
Even better, or so I think, is the rizogalo (rice pudding, $8.50).
This is some kind of fancy trick – that something so homespun and plain can simultaneously be so suave, smooth and sexy.
Spot on Greek for him and Italian for me end a great New Year’s Eve outing.
There’s no doubt in our minds that Eleni’s will be widely regarded as a very welcome arrival to the inner west.
(Consider The Sauce dined at Eleni’s as guests of management. No money changed hands. Our food was chosen by CTS. Eleni’s management did not seek any editorial input into this story.)