Thursday, December 10, 2009

Kouzina, Melbourne

On the mid level of the Southgate Arts & Leisure Precinct, Kouzina doesn't stand out in any way, shape or form.  It serves modern Greek food and having only eaten in one other Greek restaurant in Melbourne so far, I was looking forward to tasting some delicious meze.

I booked a table for seven o'clock dinner tonight and when we arrived, a friendly, smiling waiter took us to a comfortable table by the window. 

He then went on to present us with a couple of large everyday menu's.  He quickly explained that the drinks were listed on one side, whilst the food was listed on the other.  Any questions, he would endeavour to help.  

The food is split into 'mezedes'; ...from the land, ...from the sea and, ...from the garden.  There are also 'sides and salads', 'main meals' and 'desserts'.  There is also a kiddies menu too which is great for those with young children. 

Seeing as we were in the mood to try a few different things rather than having a main meal each, the mezedes suited us rather well. 

Our first mezedes was the 'Spetsofai' from the land.  This is Greek sausages with cherry tomatoes, slices of eggplant, slithers of roasted peppers, chilli, spiced baby onions and feta, all on a sizzling plate.  At $12.50, it was a decent portion.  The sausages weren't fatty, the eggplant and peppers were cooked just right.  The baby onions added a nice little touch and the chilli was very subtle indeed.   

Then came the 'Grilled Octopus' from the sea.  Beautifully sliced grilled pieces of octopus leg with oregano, olive oil and lemon.  I loved how the wedge of lemon had been dipped into chopped oregano to create the herby green edge.  It reminded me of frosted cocktail glass rims where they're dipped in either sugar or salt.

The octopus came already sliced so there was no having to cut off pieces to eat.  Something which could have been potentially fiddly. 

It was wonderfully grilled and only a little chewy, not rubbery.  I say not rubbery because there is a difference between chewy and rubbery.  My jaws weren't aching after I chowed on this, which let's face it - a rubbery texture would have given me tiresome jaw ache.  This didn't.  And one has to remember that Octopus is a meat that will always be a little chewy.   

Next up, 'Piperies' from the garden.  Grilled sweet baby capsicums in virgin olive oil on a mat of balsamic reduction.  These were really delicious, as confirmed by my dining companion who piped positively between mouthfuls.  The balsamic reduction added a very pleasant piquant flavour as well.

From the sides, 'Lemonatta potatoes' at $8.00.  Whole roasted lemon and herb potatoes.  They weren't greasy in the slightest.  There were six of these roasted babies and boy were they filling. 

My only comment, I wish I had ordered a dish with some sauce or dip of some kind to compliment these.  I don't like eating dry roasted potatoes on their own.  But this was my fault for not ordering right!

And 'Horiatiki salad' - traditional Greek salad.  It came out as a traditional Greek salad and tasted just like one.  What more can I say.  It was fresh and tasty. 

Having finished digesting all the savoury mezes.  We were in two minds about having a dessert, but as we surveyed the other diners enjoying the delicious looking desserts around us, we thought it a shame to miss out. 

So, after having a good peruse through the dessert menu (and a good stare at the other tables who had desserts), we ordered the 'Fig and Rosemary crème bruleé' ($11.90) to share. 

It was a generous ramekin sized crème bruleé - plenty for the both of us.  To the side of it was a pistachio and rosewater ice-cream,
'Mavrodaphne' candied olives and two pieces of pistachio bread.  

I have never thought of infusing my crème bruleé with rosemary, but I have to say that it works really very well. 

The ice-cream was 'wow' delicious and a lovely palate cleanser inbetween spoonfuls of the bruleé.  The almond bread (biscotti) was also tasty and made for a lovely edible spatula to the ice-cream.

The dessert ended the meal on a high and we were both extremely satisfied with it.  The mezes were generous, tasty and I would love to come back to try some different ones. 

I'm not sure how authentically 'Greek' it is, but it was certainly enjoyable and tasty.  And I will have to remember to pop back here should I find myself hankering after a coffee and dessert one afternoon whilst strolling the Southbank.
Shop MR3, Midlevel, Southgate Arts and Leisure Precinct, 3 Southgate Avenue, Southbank, Victoria 3006
Tel: 61 (0)3 9682 2999

Lunch: Mon-Sun 12-3pm
Dinner: Sun-Thur 5:30-10pm, Fri 5:30-11pm, Sat 5:30-12pm

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