Monday, February 20, 2012

The Apollo: Definitely no ancient Greek

Another week, another new restaurant in the 2011 postcode. With chef Jonathon Barthelmess (ex Manly Pavilion) and Sam Christie (Longrain) at the helm, The Apollo is an exciting modern Greek opening in Potts Point with a corner, window-lined location that's attracting many a local.

The Apollo, Macleay Street, Potts Point
The arched windows are a fabulous feature of the space, allowing plenty of natural light and passersby to have a nosey look at this latest Potts Point restaurant. I'm a little in love with the decor too, which involves well-spaced tables, paint-peeled concrete walls and bare, unvarnished bentwood chairs (some with arms).

Nemea Driopi 2008 Agiorgitko
Greek wine is completely new to me, and somewhat new to the staff too, but we happily go with the recommendation for a red wine that's light and fruity. Turns out, Greek wine isn't all that different to Italian or Australian even, and this Agiorgitiko is well-balanced and an ideal partner to a lot of the food.

The dishes of food are designed to share, with a few appetiser-like dishes followed by the entreé-like ones, then "dishes cooked over wood and charcoal" and sides.

There's also a $55 banquet meal called "The Full Greek". Between two, we were very well advised to order one 'main' and a few of the smaller dishes to share.

Veal and sweetbread meat  ball, avgolemono
It was difficult to go past the idea of a veal sweetbread meatball, and I had wondered how the glands would be presented in the dish. One giant meat ball was served up, in a foamy pool of avgolemono lemon and egg sauce, which was light with citrus yet had meaty depth in the broth and was an unexpectedly excellent accompaniment.

The crumbly innards of the meat ball seemed to have been held together with a skin of some sort, while the sweetbreads were in a roughly chopped state that was still noticeable but not in an overwhelming manner.

Grilled octopus with chickpeas and cucumber
The octopus came highly recommended and I really hadn't expected it to look as it did. An entire small octopus, legs splayed and grilled golden all over, came resting on pylons of pickled cucumbers and a puddle of creamed chickpeas, while whole, golden-surfaced chickpeas rolled artfully around.

It was tender, for octopus, and the pairing with pickled cucumber was inspired while I'm not so sure about the chickpea partnership.

Pig's tail salad, walnuts, sorrel, currants, pomegranate, farro
I'm letting you in on a secret here - this is the best and probably naughtiest salad you're ever going to have. Indeed, farro (so much like barley) and sorrel are good for you, as too walnuts that add crunch - but not quite as much crunch as the pig's tail which has been flattened out and cooked as crackling.

Crackling salad - you read correctly. Sweetened with currants and pomegranate seeds, the jumble of farro hides a fair amount of the rectangles of pig's tail crackling which are devilishly satisfying, as can be expected. If modern Greek food is about putting pork crackling into otherwise healthy dishes, I'm in to it.

Slow cooked lamb rib and loin, lemon, Greek yoghurt
Not much was going to sway me from having lamb as the main which was a petite pile of charred meat in total food magazine style, served with a pot of tzaziki and a cheek of lemon.

We had some trouble moving the dish around on the table as we were still going on all the other dishes, so my first piece of lamb loin was probably not as hot as I would have liked. Nonetheless, the big flavours of a herby, lemony marinade just exploded in my mouth, even without the accompaniments.

The lamb loin was so very tender and easily one of the most outstanding lamb dishes I've had - Greek or not. The lamb rib, some parts without bone, were covered in a bit more fat, but tasty for it too.

Deep fried okra, vinegar, mint (half-eaten dish)
From the list of sides, we excitedly ordered the okra, or lady's fingers, which came lightly deep-fried with whole leaves of parsley and mint. The light vinegar dressing was just perfect for the seed-filled vegetable, which had none of its trademark inner sliminess, although some of the larger ones were stringy and tough to chew.

Rosewater jelly doughnuts with chocolate sauce
It took us a fair amount of time to get through the four dishes of dinner, as they seemed to be deceptively more filling than their sizes would suggest.

But I was convinced to share a dessert of rosewater jelly doughnuts, which rather resembled sugar-dusted arancini. Five of these hefty doughnut balls were served to share, with a delightful ceramic bottle of milk chocolate sauce.

Rosewater jelly doughnuts drizzled with chocolate sauce
The cinnamon sugar scented dough was a little heavy and chewy but revealed a solid cube of 'rosewater jelly' or indeed, Turkish delight. I might have thought the addition of chocolate sauce to the dessert would be sugar overload but it wasn't. Rather, the combination of sweet jelly, quality chocolate and doughnut dough was spot on in terms of flavours.

Throughout our (early arrival) meal, it was impressive to see how many people walked through the door, most sans booking given reservations are only taken for groups of six or more. The Apollo appears to be the latest restaurant hotspot, where the uber-cool factor is sky-high and there's not a touch anything ancient.

The Apollo on Urbanspoon


gaby @ lateraleating said...

Sweetbreads in a meatball... brilliant!

JB said...

Isn't the calamari at Porteno served with chickpea? Is it similar? It was a bit of a clash of textures...

And OMG, pig tails! Where have they been all this time??

Jacq said...

Crackling salad - that sounds like my kind of salad! I love the cute little jar of Greek yoghurt next to the lamb

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

Ahh this is right near my friend's place and I'm sure he can be persuaded to stop by for a meal one night!

Nic@diningwithastud said...

Crackling salad is def MY kind of salad :D!!

shez said...

Deep fried okra! Splay-legged octopus1 Sweetbread meatball! (Crackling salad!) It's like the meal that dreams are made of... and with a greek wine to boot. I'll have to stick it in my "to-eat-at" list stat.

Jenny (minibites) said...

hehe I can't look at that octopus seriously the way it is presented.. meat looks delish though!

Rita (mademoiselle délicieuse) said...

Nothing wrong with crackling salad!

Ashley said...

The pig's tail salad looks like the perfect dish to have while relaxing on your porch. The doughnuts look fantastic too!

betty said...

ooo how good do those donuts look :)

Tony Hollingsworth said...

Wow Tina, looks sensational - sigia giasas!

Corinne @ Gourmantic said...

Walked past it on the weekend and saw a lot of people going in. You're on a Greek food roll! I wonder what's next ;)

catty said...

I never really liked Greek food until I went to Greece and then totally fell in love! The okra looks AWESOME!

Tina @ bitemeshowme said...

The rosewater jelly doughnuts sounds delightful. They look so.. perfect!

gsalpa said...

i bet he could save the greek economy with dishes like that !!

joey@FoodiePop said...

Who can say no to pork crackling in a salad? Gimme those doughnuts now! LOL

Dee@foodinhand said...

Ohhhhhh I want that "salad" and I'm also keen on anything with sweetbreads in it. Somehow thought the fare would be more traditional but this seems quite interesting. Might chalk this up on my long list of 'to eats'.

Tina said...

Hi Gaby - Isn't it?! That was easily the first entree we had picked out.

Hi jb - Not so sure re the Porteno dish. The crackling was not what I expected at all :)

Hi Jacq - Yup, definitely my kinda salad ;)

Hi Lorraine - The locals seem to love it, and with good reason!

Hi Nic - We'll get along just fine :)

Hi Shez - I think it's more fantastical than a dream meal for me... :)

Hi Jenny - Definitely a first for presentation of octopus, I think.

Hi Rita - But so much right..!

Hi Ashley - I'd need a porch first and then a direct line to The Apollo's kitchen :)

Hi Betty - Perfectly pretty, aren't they?

Hi Tony - Was a fab meal and nigh overall.

Hi Corinne - Ha, not sure there's much more Greek on the agenda but you never know.

Hi catty - Oooh, would love to go to Greece one day...

Hi Tina - Great idea, aren't they!

Hi gsalpa - Haha! I wonder...

Hi joey - Pork crackling wins in that contest, for sure

Hi Dee - Yes, I quite like the modern approach - everything is clean and simple.


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