Annabelle Crabbe hit the nail on the head in her new program, Kitchen Confidential, when she commented that sharing a meal with someone is one of the best ways in which people share information about themselves (or something along those lines). So a long lunch was required when a dear friend had hit a very stressful time in his work life and was obviously finding it hard to get the whole matter off his chest.
Eleni's @ Civic could not have been a better choice for this tricky occasion. While it may look like one of Sydney's regular old art deco pubs, it is anything but. Securely seated in a nest of cosy tables and chairs, we started with some of Eleni's shared plates. With the divine pan fried halloumi with watermelon, tomato, mint and chilli dressing, and a refreshingly crisp beer placed in front of us, the conversation started flowing in between delicious mouthfuls. Next was the plump juicy keftedes with roast tomato sauce and a dill and cucumber scented tzatiki. My dear friend was looking one hundred times less stressed at this point.
To nourish the soul we then moved on to try some of Eleni's traditional Greek main meals, including a rich and hearty Moussaka with lamb, eggplant and potatoes and a loving bowl of wagyu beef kokinisto, slow braised with wonderful hints of cinnamon. To complement this absolutely divine food we ordered a beautiful bottle of red wine from Greece, which also had subtle spicy notes that enhanced the flavourful cinnamon in the red sauce.
The conversation moved on from the recent events of the past to the many exciting opportunities of the future. At this point my dear friend was almost back to looking like his normal, non-stressed self. While I would love to say it was all down to some (hopefully) good listening, and the odd bit of empathy, in reality I think it was more due to the fact that my dear friend felt like he was sitting at his mother's kitchen table being given a big does of some TLC in the form of delicious, comforting food. The service at Eleni's @ Civic was also outstanding, happy and friendly - nothing was a trouble for the delightful couple looking after us. Indeed the atmosphere was so lovely, we could have happily meandered through another bottle of fantastic Greek wine, but instead we opted for a reviving traditional Greek coffee - which had a thick layer of crema-froth ("kaimaki") on top.
Eleni's @ Civic is the perfect place for lunchtime feast - be it premised on the need for a heart to heart or a joyous celebration. You cannot deny the homely vibe, even siting a short hop away from the gleaming chrome of the art deco bar and a boisterous group of journos knocking back a couple of lunch time schooners. It is just like finding a little bit of Greece, or your Ma's kitchen, in the middle of Sydney city. Stop in mid week and your "hump day" will be transformed when you will leave feeling absolutely nourished and pampered.
388 Pitt St
Sydney NSW 2000
Sydney NSW 2000