Thursday, 27 March 2014

My kind of street food {Gazi Review}

I have always felt a little bit Greek. 

I have never really looked it though, with the red hair and the blue eyes and pasty skin. Although, when I was about sixteen I went to a Greek cafe with my dad, a place where he was a regular. With his black hair, olive-ish skin and passion for Greek coffee and food I think the owner had assumed he was Greek (actually he is a crazy mix of Irish, Scottish, German and a splash of Welsh). When the cafe owner saw me he clapped his hands and said "Your daughter, she is the original Greek!" Apparently in certain parts of Greece, many many years ago, before the Romans came along with their dominant dark-haired genes, there were a number of redheads in Greece. He was rather disappointed to hear that we were both just mongrels (mixed breed:) He quickly recovered when he realised I had the same passion for his food.

I was born in a small country town in NSW. My dad had been virtually adopted by a delightful Greek family and used to spend many afternoons with them, being fed by my Nona and playing snooker with my Nono. When they heard my parents hadn't really considered godparents for me, they begged for the opportunity and my honorary Greekness began. Every Friday, until we moved away when I was twelve, I would eat spanakopita and kourambiethes (which I loved) and hide the koulourakia (which I didn't like) in my pockets until I could escape down to feed them to the chooks. Yes, they had chooks, and a huge veggie garden and their house smelt like dill and olive oil and love.

Greek food will forever be a favourite and so when selecting a birthday dinner location, George Columbaris' messy Greek street food at Gazi was a chance to revisit my childhood.

But this time with ouzo.

And a bottle of 2012 Sigalas Assyrtiko which was an astonishingly beautiful wine.
Assyrtiko is a native grape variety to Santorini, where the winds are so strong that the vines are often trained into basket shapes and the grapes grown on the inside to protect them from the wine. This is a fantastic grape variety producing wines that are richly concentrated, highly perfumed (I'm a sucker for aromatics), with naturally high acid and remarkably high alcohol (14.5% in this case, yet it didn't taste 'hot'). On the nose it had floral notes, orange oil, hints of coriander, poached spiced pears, grapefruit, almonds, fresh pine- it just kept evolving. Followed by a gorgeous textural mouthfeel, richly concentrated with more citrus, and waves of minerality. This might actually be my new favourite grape variety. I know, big call.

To the food.

Calamari- beautifully spiced on the outside, succulent and tender on the inside

Chips with oregano, garlic oil and feta. In my opinion all chips should be served with feta:)

Marouli- iceberg lettuce with lemon, olive oil, oregano and kefalograviera liberally grated over the top (a hard salty cheese made from a mixture of sheep and goats milk)

Not the prettiest dish you have ever seen and hard to photograph favourably but it was a perfect accompaniment. Fresh and clean and crunchy with some lovely salty, herby tanginess. Just gorgeous.

Crab souvlakakia

Duck souvlakakia

The souvlakakias (souvlakakii? actually I'm sure there is probably a correct plural for these) are just divine. Perfect fluffy, slightly charcoaled bread with gorgeous flavour combinations inside. There are more traditional chicken and beef options and even one for the vegos. I should add at this point that Gazi does takeaway too.....

And dessert

Loukomathes are a childhood favourite. In fact when I lived in Brisbane I used to consider going to the Greek festival, Panyiri, just for the loukomathes. Also known as Greek honey puffs, they are essentially doughnut holes but a little lighter in texture, topped with gooey honey syrup and nuts. Gazi ups it a notch with Nutella honey. Inspired.

And Pavlova. Which sounds innocent enough on the menu- an oldie but a goodie. Then this arrives...

And when you tap it it cracks open to reveal a decadent white chocolate sorbet, sweet fruit and dollops of lemon curd. So much fun!

Then I got a little extra birthday surprise
Mastic 'musk sticks' and nutty turkish delight. These little treats were so good I would seriously consider just having them for dessert (after I have worked my way through the rest of the menu).

I do love the pink lighting in the ladies room- it gives me a wonderful mediterranean glow. Yes, that is a bathroom selfie. Staying classy.

I need to give an extra special mention to the service. The staff are friendly, efficient and knowledgable, whilst maintaining a comfortable casualness to fit the vibe of the restaurant. It is however when something goes wrong that true colours are shown (and Gazi's true colour is gold). I booked online in January, requesting one of the window tables (nice view and a little quieter). I confirmed this booking the day before but somehow the (external) booking service stuffed it up and there was no record of my booking upon arrival. After some quiet discussion we were seated at a free table in the middle of the restaurant. I mentioned to the waitress about my booking and special request; she was very understanding and after a quick discussion with front of house, moved us to one of the coveted window tables. It is this kind of service that elevates a restaurant to the next level.

Gazi on Urbanspoon


  1. bathroom selfies are never a bad idea!! i really want to try souvlakakias my housemate always raves about it.

    1. If only I could look that tanned all the time.... :)


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