In Short: Head straight to Aristotle’s at Neutral Bay if you’re looking for your Greek feast fix. It has all your classics, in a sophisticated, intimate setting. Definitely do not leave without trying the Aristotle’s Haloumi and Mushroom Moussaka, which are both a little piece of Greek heaven on a plate!
There can be the often stereotypical view of Greek restaurants; you know, the blue and white colours with pictures of the ancient Parthenon, the images of breaking white plates, and the gleeful sounds of ‘opa’ coming from all the guests. And then, there’s places like Aristotle’s in Neutral Bay which completely flip that Greek experience on its head. In a sophisticated setting, with dimmed tungsten lights, soft playing music, and banquette and communal seating in an intimate space, Aristotle’s delivers on that beautiful Greek hospitality with authentic, incredibly delicious home-style dishes.
The whole Coco & Vine crew were on hand for this experience, as we’d all had Greek food high on our priority list! So when the invitation came through from fellow foodie MJ (@soul_plates_australia), she didn’t have to ask twice, and we certainly were not disappointed! Hosted by the lovely Maria and her team, we left the evening in the hands of the experts to take us on a trip through the blue waters of the Mediterranean and Aegean Seas. And what better way to start than with what Greeks do best – seafood!
The seared scallops were perfectly cooked with a slightly caramelised outer layer giving way to a moist and tender inner meat. Served in their shell with strip of pastourma, a seasoned air-dried cured beef, the delight in this dish was the bed of spiced carrot puree with ouzo, that these little morsels of the ocean were laid on. The combination gave this salty, meaty, sweet explosion in your mouth, that made it hard to stop at just one!
Not to be out-done, the grilled prawns were that perfect mix of simplicity and deliciousness. Butterflied prawns served hot in a grilled pan, with fresh parsley, garlic, chilli flakes, butter, and a squeeze of lemon. Pulling the meat from its shell, the initial crunch of the prawn that gave way to the juicy centre with all those awesome flavours infused all the way through, was just perfection.
Now give me haloumi, and its signature squeak, any day, any time; it’s one of my favourite cheeses. But, I think I found the new standard that all other haloumi dishes will now be measured against in Aristotle’s Haloumi. Served warm in a grilled pan, Aristotle’s version won me over with the inclusion of a few of my other favourite ingredients like crushed walnuts, pomegranates, fresh grapes, all drizzled in honey and balsamic. It was so outstanding and addictive, that I could have very easily devoured all of this by myself, but I don’t think that would have gone down too well with the rest of the team!
In true Greek style, it’s not a meal if there isn’t some type of lamb dish being served. Since we were all there, Maria delighted us with the lamb roast shoulder to share. This is lamb done to the highest quality, and again, with the quintessential flavours of the Greek cuisine. Infused with rosemary and oregano, this was fall-off-the-bone perfection with juicy meat just pulling away, rich with flavour. It was a huge portion, served with lemon potatoes and spiced yoghurt, that made it hard to believe this was intended for two people, as we were struggling to get through it all with four of us! But the boys pulled through, as it was too hard to leave behind any of this traditional dish that was done exceptionally well.
When it comes to Greek food, moussaka is up there as one of my all time favourite dishes. Given that I’ve had some of the best versions straight from the kitchen of Greek mamas (thanks to many Greek friends I’ve had throughout my life), its often hard to live up to. But, Aristotle’s vegetable dish in the form of the mushroom moussaka was right up there! Don’t be fooled into thinking that it, in any way, plays second fiddle to it’s traditional meat-based brother. Rich, smoky, delectable flavours excite the palate with truffled mushrooms, eggplant, tomato, and potatoes, all marinated in bechamel sauce that made this equally as satisfying. Again, Sacha, Steven, and Mavis were giving me side glances as they caught me taking more than my fair share!
Now, fellow Coco & Viner Mavis will always stand by her principle that a meal is never truly complete without dessert, and Aristotle’s definitely lived up to her expectation! We were spoilt with Aristotle’s cigar box, which upon lifting the wooden box lid, held two filo pastry ‘cigars’, one filled with pistachio custard and the other with chocolate mousse. Impossibly thin layer-upon-layer of filo were rolled tightly around the fillings that gave that perfect crunch as you bit into the cigar, and then through to the soft, creamy smooth centres for a delicious sweet ending.
It was also Aristotle’s version of Galaktoboureko that we all fought over, with its beautifully presented, little house-like structure made of layers of pastry encasing a creamy, smooth, and sweet semolina custard. Served with the fresh and unique tasting date ice cream this was the dessert to end a wonderful meal.
Aristotle’s in Neutral Bay is a definite must-visit place if you love your Greek cuisine and want an intimate, stylish place to indulge in. Let Maria and her incredible team take you on a traditional experience, where each dish is filled with those amazing, quintessential flavours and aromas, that will have you dreaming of sailing on a yacht through the crystal blue Aegan sea.
*Coco & Vine dined as guests of Aristotle’s and Paper Phoenix Management. However, all images and opinions are our own.