Freelance writer and blogger from Sydney (ex-Melbourne). Avid foodie and traveller. Loves dogs.
Published July 27th 2017
For traditional Greek food - with a modern twist
Melbourne is home to the largest Greek population outside of Greece – that's a commonly known fact, especially if you're from Melbourne yourself. This means there are more Greek restaurants in Melbourne than you can poke a souvlaki at. In addition to having some excellent Greek restaurants, however, Melbourne does have its fair share of mediocre ones. You know the ones I'm talking about: white washed walls, greasy and unseasoned meat platters and plates of soggy fried calamari with chips. They're boring, overpriced and uninspiring. Not Salona, though. They've been in the restaurant business since 1972 and continues to retain a strong clientele. I've wanted to try it for the longest time so when my friends suggested it as the venue for our next dinner, I said yes.
The restaurant itself is warm and cosy, especially during winter. The best way to do dinner at Salona is to order a bottle of Greek red wine to share (we got the Enotria Land Cabernet Sauvignon, $95) and select as many dishes to share.
Our first starter was the scallops, served with kalamata olive jam and mountain tea jelly (mountain tea being a Greek herbal tea). I loved how the team at Salona dared to play around with modern twists and this dish worked beautifully.
Grilled scallops with mountain tea jelly and kalamata olive jam ($17)
For the saganaki, I was expecting a wedge of saganaki in a pan and perhaps some prawns in a tomato and leek sauce on the side. Close, but no filo cigar. The prawns, tomato and leek were all baked inside the pan, which was closed off with some gooey kafelograviera cheese. It was decadent and oh-so-perfect given the chilly winter air outside.
As to be expected, there was quite a lot of lamb on the menu so we were good to narrow our selections to just two options. First up, the lamb ribs glazed in a lovely ouzo and honey mixture and served with skordalia. The ribs were deliciously succulent and their sticky sweetness paired well with the garlicky potato puree.
Ouzo and honey glazed lamb ribs served with skordalia ($16)
Then came the lamb shoulder, which had been slow cooked in a rich tomato braise. While it was comforting and tasty, I enjoyed the lamb ribs more – the flavour combination for that dish was way more interesting.
Of course, we had to order a salad to balance out all the meats. We ditched the ubiquitous Greek salad and went for the roasted beet salad, served with spring onion, walnut, grilled manouri cheese, house made pomegranate balsamic. I can't really describe the salad as light but it was definitely tasty and would definitely stand on its own as a single meal.
We were ready to split but when our waiter came around with the dessert menu, telling us that the galaktobouriko was 'really good', well, how were we to say no? Galaktobouriko is a type of semolina custard that's either baked with filo in a shallow dish or wrapped in filo pastry and served individually as fingers. In this case, we got the shallow dish option that came with a LOT of vanilla bean custard. The custard was lovely, though I was hoping for a more even ratio of custard and filo to even out the richness. The lemon and cinnamon fused syrup on top did help a bit though.