About a year ago, I had my first meal at Estia. I really liked the restaurant due to the very jolly part-owner, an older Cypriot man who had a lovely chat with us about Cyprus. A worked in Cyprus for a year and enjoyed her food experiences whilst there. During my first time at Estia, I had the Moussaka, which was made Greek style. My love for Moussaka started at an early age as my heritage is Egyptian and my mum used to make it very often. The Egyptian version of Moussaka is quite different. The Egyptian version is pretty much meat (either minced or in chunks) with eggplant in tomato sauce, making the eggplant very soft. There is no béchamel on top and is served with Egyptian rice. This dish sums up my childhood, as it was my favourite dish. I now make it for A and am slowly in the process of perfecting it, thanks to my mother’s guidance.
For the last month, A and I have been missing the Middle East. We both love the Middle East – A has spent a lot of time there and for me, it reminds me of my upbringing. The Greek and Middle Eastern versions of mez(z)e are quite similar, so we decided to treat ourselves to some meze at Estia.
Estia’s meze is $45.00 per person and there’s a minimum requirement of two people. The Meze is split into two courses. The first comprised of three dips, toasted pita bread, olives, feta, picked vegetables, roast beetroot, yoghurt, grilled haloumi, fig compote and marinated octopus.
After the first course, I have to admit that I was a little disappointed. The pickled vegetables seemed to be out of a jar and the marinated octopus was really tough and not very flavoursome. The grilled haloumi, fig compote and toasted pita bread were really tasty though and made the course for both A and I. Try the three in one mouthful – it is divine. The saltiness of the toasted pita bread and the haloumi plus the sweetness of the fig compote is an awesome combination. The rest of the pieces were all acceptable but I didn’t eat much, as I was awaiting the next course.
The second course comprised of grilled fish, whole grilled tiger prawns, fried squid, chicken and beef souvlaki, roast vegetables, lamb on the bone, shaftalia sausages, green salad with lemon vinaigrette, ouzo aioli and fries.
The standouts of this course were the squid, the lamb on the bone and the ouzo aioli. The squid was lightly battered and fried and it was soft and not too stringy. I am a massive squid fan and it definitely met my tick of approval. The ouzo aioli was a great accompaniment to the squid and wasn’t too oily or heavy. The lamb on the bone was melt-in-your-mouth and the flavour of the lamb was overall really nice. I found the fish a bit lacking in flavour. I also didn’t like the shaftalia sausages but this wasn’t due to the cooking or the quality of the meat, I particularly don’t like this sausage or it’s Egyptian equivalent from childhood. The green salad was a nice side as well as the shoestring fries. This course was quite a huge serving and we were unable to finish the entire plate.
After the meze, A ordered a Greek coffee as the jolly part-owner was making them on a little camper burner in the little coffee pots (traditionally called a ‘cezve’ which are also used in the Middle East). The coffee was beautifully made and I would recommend trying one instead of a usual cappuccino or latte (which Estia also offers).
There are a huge number of dishes available if you do not feel like meze or would like something in particular. I found the service during the night was quite good but at the end of the night when I went to pay at the till, the lady serving us was quite cold and I don’t remember her talking to us or smiling. The price however was quite a bargain at $96.50 for meze for two, corkage of our bottle of wine ($3.00 per bottle) and the Greek-style coffee.
At our last trip at Mondo markets, we met the jolly part-owner’s wife who was selling home-made Greek sweets. Conversation struck up after my questions on how they make their sweets, as the similarity between Egyptian and Greek sweets is very close. The wife said that the whole family make the sweets for the Mondo markets as well as the restaurant, including her mother and her children. It’s a sweet idea that there is a family tradition of making the sweets for the food-stall and restaurant. The family vibe definitely comes across in the restaurant – from the waitstaff to the clientele, the atmosphere is quite relaxed and friendly. The jolly part-owner in particular can be seen chatting away at different tables. It’s quite loud in the restaurant but it’s to be expected of a restaurant that is so busy.
I would recommend this restaurant (and the meze) and I also recommend bringing a bottle of wine, as no alcohol is sold onsite. The corkage is a cheap $3.00 a bottle and without asking they’ll bring the appropriate glasses and ice bucket to the table. A and I enjoyed a lovely bottle of Yalumba Y series Voignier, as suggested by a regular reader, Ben. Thanks Ben for your suggestion – it was a great, inexpensive bottle of white that was a lovely accompaniment to such a smorgasbord of different flavours.