Alpha was the new kid on the block and everyone was talking about it. Being a relative novice when it comes to Greek cuisine, I was initially rather reluctant to sample it, right until I accidentally walked by it and was immediately intrigued by its gorgeous, modern interior and design. I jumped online to scan the menu, and as a catch up with my friend Blondie was due to discuss her upcoming wedding plans (with me as a bridesmaid!), I suggested we pay the venue a visit.
Bookings are highly recommended as despite the place still being relatively new, the word of mouth its been receiving has been nothing short of popular, and so Thursday dinnertime was busy and bustling.
We had been reassured over the phone that many of the options on the menu were gluten-free, and our waitress was more than helpful in pointing out which dishes would be safe. The dishes are designed for sharing, and so we decided to begin with the Sesame Leaf Dolmades: Almond Rice, Preserved Lemon Avgolemono ($12).
These little parcels were simply delightful, the sesame leaf splitting easily to reveal its stuffed insides spilling out with the moreish, nutty rice. The avgolemono sauce that accompanied it was curiously frothy and very lemony, providing a nice tang and contrast to the dish.
We had these with a meze, the Barrel Aged Fetta Tou Fourno, with Chilli, Roasted Garlic, Oregano ($11).
Words cannot describe this fetta. Don’t even think about the fetta you out of a packet at the supermarket; compared to this, that wouldn’t even count as fetta. It was quite salty on its own, but combined with the dolmades, it balanced out nicely.
The Mastic Spiced Quail with Fetta, Watermelon Salad ($26) was a nice, small little dish.
The quail was irresistibly tender, but it was quite fiddly to eat with knife and fork. We were both tempted to pick up the quail quarters with our fingers and gnaw at it, but being in civilised company, restrained ourselves. While I’m usually not an big fan of watermelon, I found it quite refreshing when combined with fetta in a salad.
We were wondering whether we would have the same issue of wanting to use our hands when it came to the Slow Roasted Lamb Spare Ribs with Thyme, Honey and Ouzo Glaze ($18):
A silly thought, really. As soon as we picked up our knives and pressed them to the rib to slice off the meat, it all fell off like butter faced with a hot knife.
Look at it. Just look at it.
Simply beautiful. Full of flavour, honey and thyme, and the carrot puree that accompanied it was a lovely addition that significantly lightened the dish.
We were willing to give dessert a try, especially after I had seen the table next to us order the Loukoumades: Greek Doughnut Balls, Spiced Honey Syrup, Candied Walnut Ice Cream ($12).
It was like being sent straight to heaven with my first mouthful of doughnut and the candied walnut ice cream. Chewy, light as air doughnut balls with just the barest hint of crunch, with just a small savoury kick to offset the sweetness of the honey syrup and the amazing ice cream. If I could come to Alpha just for dessert, I would without a doubt come back for this baby.
There wasn’t much choice in regards to gluten-free desserts, but Blondie selected the Lemon Ice Cream, Nectarines, Samos Muscat, and Almond Shortbread ($12). She had to have it without the shortbread, but the waitstaff were lovely and asked if she liked pistachios, as they could add some candied pistachios to the dish instead.
While it probably doesn’t look like much next to my Loukoumades, the flavours were incredible – the nectarine delectably tender and sweet, and the lemon ice cream similarly amazing.
Service, while attentive during most of the evening, lagged significantly towards the end; I noted that a group of about 10 businessmen came in at about 8.30 pm and proceeded to order about six bottles of wine and a number of large roasts from the menu – as a result, they had about three waitstaff hovering over them and ourselves and a few other tables got a little neglected.
We left the restaurant around 9.00 pm, and the place was still busy; it just shows how important a reservation is for Alpha. I highly recommend a visit to this place – while they don’t do what you would call traditional Greek food, their take on it is nothing short of heavenly. I will definitely be visiting again, especially for those Greek doughnuts.
238 Castlereagh Street
Sydney NSW 2000
(02) 9098 1111