There is no exaggeration to the claim on the front window of Sydney’s premier new dining destination, 1821, that the restaurant was ‘Made in Greece’. Three million dollars worth of luxe décor, fit-out and interiors were shipped over from the motherland to kit out the three levels of the epic 130-seat Martin Place restaurant.
With a brick wall adorned with a giant white Greek flag, olive plants on each table and a bar flanked by iconic towering Greek columns, 1821 is in every sense a little piece of Greece in Sydney. The historically significant name pays homage to the year the Greeks began the war of independence to free themselves from the Ottoman Empire, in which 12 years later they triumphed and Greece was reborn.
But the only thing more authentically Greek than the name or the fit-out is the food. And that’s exactly what we got to experience on our recent visit. 1821 takes Greek food to the next level, courtesy of Executive Chef David Tsirekas (formerly of Perama and Xanthi).
Highlight dishes include: Greek San Choy Bow (roasted tomato with herb and vegetable rice in lettuce cups), Pork Belly Baklava (flaky cubes of pastry with date and pistachio), twice cooked BBQ Lamb Shoulder (slow braised over five hours and then grilled), Chicken Avgolemono (chestnut, raisin & barley stuffing, roasted artichokes, egg lemon sauce), and Prawn Manti (egg pasta dumplings filled with carrot puree, feta, candied walnuts, burnt butter currant dressing and fried mint).
One of our favourites was the BBQ Octopus (swordfish tarama, pickled cucumber and cauliflower). Tender, delightful, and delectable, it made for the perfect starter. The other dish we could not get enough of from the ‘Medium’ menu was the Ouzo Cured Salmon (with skordalia, paximadia crumb, toasted almonds and mulberry & pomegranate dressing). Infused with ouzo, Greece’s delicious national drink, this one was an absolute standout. The combination of flavours was just exquisite.
We then moved on to the ‘Signature’ menu and couldn’t resist trying a traditional Greek dish (Moussaka) with potato gratin, eggplant, lamb braised with orange & cinnamon, and béchamel sauce. It was creamy, it was juicy, and it was absolutely delicious. And then came the hero dish – the Seafood Saganaki. This one comprised of prawns, black mussels, blue eye fillet, orzo, tomato sauce, and melted kasseri cheese. With such a variety of flavours, it was a true delight which had us licking the plate clean.
The authentic Greek flavours of the food are complemented by a wine list featuring 80% Greek wines, aiming to showcase some of the country’s indigenous grape varieties. Cocktail highlights include the Ouzotini (ouzo, mint infused vodka, peach schnapps, lime and sugar rim), Mastiha Mojito (mastiha, vodka, lime, mint and soda) and Tears of Chios (mastiha, vodka, Chambord, lemon) which feature mastic liqueur, made from the resin of a tree found and grown exclusively on the Greek island of Chios.
And if you still have room for dessert after all that, then make sure to try the White Chocolate Feta Cheesecake (lemon pound cake base, freeze dried cherry, halva crumble, sour cherry, and lemon balm) or the Caramel Baklava Ice Cream (layered with vanilla bean ice cream, caramel fudge, and baklava nuts). We found the dessert to be just divine and it had us licking our lips for hours after.
To experience one of Sydney’s best modern Greek restaurants, head down to 1821. Located just a stone’s throw away from the famous Pitt Street Mall, it’s an absolute must-visit!
1821: 122 Pitt Street, Sydney
Open 7 days from noon to midnight (closes 10pm on Sundays)