Melbournians are spoilt for choice when it comes to Greek food. Zimari has recently introduced me to Cretan food. A regionalised Greek cuisine, Cretan food emphasises home style cooking using seasonal, fresh ingredients. So think slow cooked dishes; oven baked casseroles; flavourful salads in addition to the usual Greek food everyone is familiar with such as souvlakis and syrupy sweets.
Melanie of Zimari and the chef had arranged for us to sample a selection of Cretan dishes and we were glad to be in their capable hands. Zimari straddles the divide between cafe and restaurant. It has quick lunch specials as well as more elaborate offerings for dinner or lunch.
To start, there was a platter of warm herbed pita bread with four dips: taramasalata (salmon dip), tzatziki, beetroot and eggplant.
In the spirit of all things Grecian, we then sampled a few ouzo and avocado prawns. These were light and sauteed in garlic and lemon...yum!
These little pulled pork and haloumi sliders are a great example of the quick bites one could grab at Zimari for lunch.
To go with the sliders, we had one of the most delicious salads I have ever had. This was the beetroot salad with marinated beetroot, coleslaw, feta, walnuts and sunflower seeds. I could happily eat this for days.
Now onto the signature comfort foods of Crete...we sampled these moreish slow cooked beef meatballs in a lamb broth...talk about melt in your mouth!
Also in the slow cooked food train of thought was this lamb yiouvetsi which was the special for the day. I've never had a yiovetsi before but once had, never forgotten. It was an oven baked rissoni pasta with tender lamb pieces in a tomato, cheese and herb base. It was perfect for a cold winter's day.
By now we were loosening up the waist belts and getting quite sleepy with all that good food digesting in the tummy but there's still dessert! We found room for the lightest citrus cake ever. This delectable sweet was called portokolopita. It was made with layers of filo pastry and held together by yoghurt and citrusy syrup. It was served warm with vanilla icecream. OMG.
Throughout the meal, we were served heart warming chai tea. This went perfectly with the portokolopita.
Verdict: We loved it.