I am a freelance Journalist and Content Writer based on the Gold Coast. Along with writing for "Weekendnotes", I also have a freelance Online and Web content writing business, Vision Content.
Published December 11th 2012
Traditional Greek music filters out onto the street as I wander toward the entrance of Hellenika, the Greek Eatery at Nobby's Beach. The façade is inviting - an eclectic mix of a Greek Taverna combined with a contemporary twist of steel and modernist art. I turn and surreptitiously draw in the warmth and rustic charm of my surroundings and feel the atmosphere envelope me like the loving arms of a Yia Yia (Greek Grandmother).
Simon Gloftis, Hellenika's owner, revels in creating a family oriented atmosphere, where food, wine and conversation flows readily, giving a glimpse into a traditional Greek family gathering. He painstakingly sources fresh and seasonal local produce with his Head Chef, Bryan Kelly, to create dishes with clean simple flavours, cooked to precision.
Hellenika offers both A la Carte and set banquet menus, with the option of combining courses with carefully selected Greek wines. But I believe to fully appreciate Hellenika's cuisine, the banquets are the best choice, allowing you to sample the variety and range of dishes available.
I chose the $59 banquet when dining with my husband and a group of our friends, excited by the prospect of consuming many Greek dishes that I had grown to enjoy after a stint living in Melbourne. While I did contemplate pairing the courses with Greek wines, (as I am an active supporter of keeping the wine industry afloat with many a hangover to prove it!), I eventually declined this option being a bit of a lightweight, especially as we were going out for drinks later.
The meal began with taramosalata, (a creamy cod fish dip) and feta ke piperies (a feta and pepper dip), served with crusty bread. These were incredibly moorish and were quickly followed by mezedes including saganaki (grilled sheep's milk cheese) salty and tart paired with a fresh squeeze of lemon, kalamari and hirino (salty pork belly with leeks). The pork belly was tender with the leeks a sweet contrast to the pork. Next came the garides (Mooloolaba king prawns), dolmades (veal and rice wrapped in silverbeet) a personal favourite of mine, along with the kapnisto (smoked swordfish) thinly sliced and delicately smoked, leaving the palate craving more.
The mezedes was impressive, each dish carefully chosen to compliment the next, but it was the following two courses that tantalised my tastebuds the most. Hellenika's signature dish the arni sto fourno (slow baked junee lamb shoulder) along with the psari (Coral Trout) both which fell apart in my mouth, perfectly cooked and richly flavoured.
After the main courses a selection of glyka,( watermelon and dried figs) along with Greek sweets such as baklava (a dessert consisting of multiple layers of pastry with honey and pistachios) finished the meal, a traditional touch to end a flawless meal.
The service and cuisine at Hellenika's was excellent, leaving me counting down the days till my next dining experience. And if Gloftis stays true to his formula of great service, quality produce and fresh flavours, I will definitely be keen to visit his new restaurant the Fish House.