It’s Greek hospitality at its best. Xanthi is one of the latest additions to Level 6 on Westfield Sydney, serving Greek food from 8am til late in an elegant setting with beautiful tiled, mosaic-ed walls, billowing curtains and drapes, and colourful lamps hanging from the ceiling. The restaurant boasts a rotating spit, freshly made filo and an ouzo trolley with quite possibly the largest selection of ouzo available in Sydney.
Tonight we’re here to feast on a sumptuous Greek banquet to celebrate the birthday of three special ladies. We’ve barely sat down for five minutes before David Tsirekas, head chef and owner of Xanthi (and previously of the Petersham favourite, Perama), offers us bottles of Tsipouro, a Greek pomace brandy. “It’s to get your appetites going”, we’re told, and we’re instructed to eat it along with the pickled octopus. At around 45% alcohol, we quickly dilute it with the ice and water that’s provided which makes the liquid turn cloudy (my inner nerd compelled me to Google it and it’s called the Ouzo Effect!). The tsipouro is heady with aniseed flavour and, not being an aniseed fan, I think Demos was right on the money when he described it as being like “lighter fluid”. The pickled octopus on the other hand serves well to awaken the tastebuds with the lemony, vinegary flavour. But I have to remember to pace myself because we’ve ordered the $55 banquet menu (and let David decide what to send out) and there is still plenty of food to come.