Monday, July 18, 2011

A Feast with Demitri


Address: 141 Swan Street, Richmond, Victoria, 3121 
Telephone: (03) 9428 8659  

Opening Hours: Tuesday to Saturday 7:30am until 5pm & Sunday 8pm until 5pm

Demitri's Feast's philosophy is simple: "Greek food by a Greek guy." But to shrug off this Hellenic haven as something so simple would be a mistake. 

Decorated in Greece's national colour, the ocean-blue shopfront complete with painted sea critters immediately catches your eye on colourful Swan Street. Friendly greetings are projected from the busy counter staff as you enter the white-walled space with wooden seating. Copper pots and flowers add splashes of colour around the room, as does the attractive display cabinet. On its counter shelves, dark pink beetroot complements the ceramic bowls of dolmades and other meze dishes. Just around its corner, a jar of homemade Turkish delight sits atop a glass window bulging with baklava, semolina orange cakes and Turkish delight rocky road. 


Continue past the sweet treats to a small courtyard that seats about 14 people. While it is beautiful on warmer days, the heaters ensure that one remains toasty-warm during winter. Suspended pot plants hang from wooden beams interspersed with creeping vines, while a kumquat tree adds a further Mediterranean touch. Ceramic plates adorn the walls and large, empty aluminium oil tins with cushions are recycled as stools reminiscent of the olive tree that grows at the back wall.

If you arrive armed with an appetite, Demitri serves up an ever-changing daily 'feast’; a menu of about four dishes that are made from seasonal ingredients. For late risers, breakfast is served until 3pm.

Our food arrived, but while the Village wholegrain toast with avocado, pickled cucumber, mint, manouri and poached eggs looked great, it was not what I had ordered. The good thing about being served last is that you get to try everyone else's food because they feel bad for you. But I wouldn't be that cheeky.... or would I?
I started on 'Patates’; oregano and lemon sea salt potato wedges served with ouzo aoli (which thankfully didn't taste like ouzo) and the daily side salad of shaved fennel, orange, red witlof and beetroot. The wedges were some of the best I have tasted: crunchy on the herb-covered outside and soft on the inside. The seasonal salad was a brighter and more exciting choice compared to a traditional Greek salad. 

With no sign of my meatball pita, I started on the honey oat crumble with poached fruit - or more accurately, poached pears - and sweet yoghurt. The best part of this lovely, light dish was that it came sprinkled with dried rose petals.

After my companions had finished their food (with a helping hand… or is that a helping mouth!) my meatball, rocket and kefalograviera toasted pita sandwich finally arrived. Kefalograviera is a sheep's cheese often used in Sagnaki. The bread was lightly oily in a moreish way, while the meatballs were succulent and perfectly spiced. Regardless, Demitri's griller was slow to say the least!

Mistakes aside, the waiters are very approachable despite being flat-out busy. The rest of the menu is also appealing and each item has a little touch of Greece. I was also tempted by the Rizogalo Greek rice pudding with poached fruit compote and the baklava French toast with walnut praline, sweet yoghurt and orange blossom syrup. If you are after something a little fancier, try the Ouzo Cured Salmon on toasted rye with avocado, pickled cucumber, dill and the option of poached eggs.

Overall, we enjoyed our dishes. With a great selection of food and a small but satisfactory beverage list including ouzo, of course, the locals must be hankering for Demitri's Feast to be open for dinner and drinks.

The authentic charm of this cosy Greek cafe left me longing to go back to Oia, the tip of Santorini where the sunset is so beautiful that hundreds of people perch on whitewashed walls and applaud it as the sun disappears behind the Aegean Sea each night.



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