Some restaurants you plan to go to and some you just end up at. Xanthi is the latter of the two. Our original plan was to dine at Jamie’s Italian on Pitt Street, but after being informed of the hour and a half long wait, we decided to head elsewhere.
Fast forward 15mins and we were navigating the food court inside the ultra-swish Westfield, Sydney. After walking past Chat Thai and Chinta Ria, we eventually settled on Xanthi, which is located one level up from the food court.
In terms of location, it is tucked away towards the rear of the floor, which makes it great because it is away from the hustle and bustle, but at the same time, it means the restaurant could be easily overlooked.
Once seated we perused the menu and unanimously opted for the banquet option – which is comprised of 9 dishes. That’s right, 9! Never fear, though, because by now we were absolutely starving (thanks a lot, Jamie!).
Bowl of Mixed Breads
First out of the kitchen was a bowl of bread that consisted of so many slices that it could have comfortably fed the two of us for weeks! Okay, slight exaggeration there, but seriously, why so much? :)
Tarama, Tzatziki & Split Pea Dips
It was the arrival of the dips that really got the party started. Out of the 3 dips available, my favourite was definitely the Tarama (or fish roe) dip, which packed the most flavour.
The Greek salad was wonderfully fresh with an abundance of yummy fetta cheese.
Fried Calamari – Lightly floured and served with ouzo mayonnaise.
This dish was absolutely divine! The calamari was beautifully cooked with a subtle smokey flavour and combined with the ouzo mayonnaise, made for an amazingly delicious eat. My only qualm was that it ran out way too quick!
Vine Leaf Dolmathes – With a herbed rice vegetable filling, served with egg lemon sauce.
I hadn’t eaten Dolmathes in such a long time and struggled to lift them onto my plate. After about 3 or 4 attempts, I finally managed to complete the task. I found the taste to be good, but not great.
Barbecued Cypriot Haloumi – Served with diced honey peppered figs.
Ahhh grilled hamoumi… One of the favourite Greek dishes! This one didn’t disappoint at all. The haloumi was grilled just right and the figs packed plenty of sweety goodness.
Pork Belly Baklava – Twice cooked pork belly with a date and pistachio filling. Served with a date mastic sauce and pork crackling.
The Pork Belly Baklava is one of the signature dishes of Xanthi. Having read countless accolades for this dish, I was very much looking forward to digging in and experiencing a similar joy. Unfortunately, this was the one dish of the night that really let me down. Even when the waiter first placed the dish on the table, it looked a little off to me. The pork was very dry and combined with the baklava, just tasted a little wrong. Such a shame.
Thankfully the Lamb Skaras arrived next and saved the night! This dish was impeccably cooked with a lovely coating of Greek herbs and seasoning. Juicy, tender and freaking delicious!
Caramel Baklava Ice Cream & Chocolate Bougatsa
Speaking of delicious, it was soon time for desert. Thank God too because by now I was sooooo full, but there is always room for desert, right? :) Out of the two types offered, my favourite by far was the Caramel Baklava Ice Cream. Where the Chocolate Bougatsa was over-the-top sweet, the Caramel Baklava Ice Cream was perfect. So rich and creamy with just the most amazing flavours. I’d come back to Xanthi just for this ice cream alone!
You can’t finish off a Greek dining experience without trying Greek coffee :) After such an exhaustive banquet, the super-strong coffee offered just the kick we needed to wake ourselves up from the food coma.
Now although the Pork Belly Baklava had let me down, all in all I was quite happy with my experience at Xanthi. The venue is absolutely stunning and the service staff were wonderfully attentive and friendly. They even tolerated our lame attempts at conversing in Italian (at a Greek restaurant, I know!).
So if you do find yourself wondering the streets of Sydney looking for a place to eat, why not give Xanthi a go?