Greece is on my bucket list. Until I get there, I’ve got to settle with the taste of Greece in Canberra, such as that served at a traditional Greek-style tavern in Braddon that has held its own on busy Lonsdale Street for yonks.
O’Stratos Greek Taverna has been described as a “Greek food-lover’s paradise”.
It’s an older member of the family of eateries on this busy street that now includes trendy places such as Lonsdale Street Roasters and Italian and Sons.
But there’s something comforting about a well-established place and we enjoyed the large, street-front windows and the bold blue and yellow colour scheme that is “oh, so Greece”.
Traditional favourites are celebrated and the list of weekly specials and weekly fresh-fish options is extensive (and stuck to the inside of the menus with tape on blue Post-it notes – nothing pretentious about O’Stratos!).
We started by sharing the chewy, salty, addicting, pan-fried haloumi cheese ($13.50), which always gets the taste buds dancing. It was a nippy day, so for mains we opted for comfort food.
The Moussaka, a dish that is steeped in tradition – was delicious ($24). Made with prime beef mince, layered with creamy potato, eggplant and zucchini and topped with a béchamel sauce, it was comfort through and through.
The lamb shanks, oven baked with Greek-style vegetables ($26), fell off the bone and were packed with the deep tastes that slow-cooked food promises.
It’s no surprise that seafood features heavily on the menu, including dishes such as traditional grilled octopus, of which O’Stratos is particularly proud, stuffed calamari, Saganaki prawns, fried white bait and more.
Prawns are also an essential element of the Mediterranean chicken dish ($28.95), created with love, but certainly not a dish for those worried about garlic intake. The grilled fillets were tender, the prawns well cooked and the garlic sauce a winner.
We agreed the portions were massive, especially for lunch. Their size would impress those with hearty appetites, but could easily be a turn-off for others. We found the quantity of food almost confronting, and none of us finished our meals, which meant a fair bit made its way back in to the kitchen (this always breaks my heart).
Vegetarians are well catered for, including with the famous Spanakopita, flaky triangles of pastry absolutely stuffed with spinach, fetta cheese and fresh herbs ($19.50).
The special platters are designed to share (two people minimum) and my bet is you would need a marathon session to get through them ($70 for the meat platter, up to $85 for the seafood and meat platter).
The service is friendly and efficient. Indeed, the staff can’t do enough for you.
O’Stratos Greek Taverna, 9 Lonsdale Street, Braddon. Open lunch and dinner. Call 6257 8200.