In the same way that Sydney hasn’t seen too many sunny days lately, the Republic of Greece has also been a far cry from the 5th and 4th centuries when the Athenians prided over having the most advanced economy in the world. Although by no stretch could Sydney compare itself to the struggle currently being faced by the Greek, if reports of diners booking for 6 and eating for 3 are anything to go by, our eating habits are clearly changing and unless your at the pointy end of town $175 set menus no longer wash.
A dining space like this belongs at the pointy end of town. Courtesy of Architect George Livissianis if not for the throng pulsing their way along Macleay Street to the double doors that mark the entrance of The Apollo, you mightn’t even notice the nondescript 1930’s building which was previously a stuffy, curtain drawn space. With the bladder seemingly ripped out, what remains is an interior of crumbly peeling paint which, however bare-bones makes for the most elegant interpretation of hole in the wall meets avant-garde.
Enter and be warmed by the light through each arched window but arrive early. However kindly Chris McNally may be to greet you from all observations The Apollo is in full swing by 7pm, it’s balmy location beneath a canopy of plane trees a magnet for locals, grown ups and the chic set. Once in however, it’s a seat at a smooth whitewashed table top or the U-shaped bar and what better tack to take in the view than here, leaning against the marble and listening to the smooth jazzy tones of the late Ms Winehouse.
In a similarish way the food takes the same slant as the decor. Traditional rustic fare such as a Taramasalata Mullet Roe Dip ($12) comes served in a glass jar but with the most delicate spoon made of mother of pearl. Mopped up with a generous serving of warm pita bread, punchy and flavoursome as each bubble of salmon caviar bursts, a Saganaki of Cheese Honey and Oregano ($17) provides a delicious salty contrast to this otherwise velvety, rich dish which like the dip is served simply but with a pretty spray of purple oregano.
Order the Lamb Rib and Loin ($34), grilled pieces of succulent lamb, marinated, sliced thickly and served up with a pot of yogurt but if your stomachs on the small side be prepared to share. The Apollo’s menu is practically designed around the concept and by fine dining standards this is a colossal dish, one worthy of Alexander and his Thessalian army who in Greek times and still remains one of the most successful commanders in all time history.
Did I say fine dining? Perhaps the definition needs to be reviewed. With waitstaff however fresh but clearly eager, the genius of Sam Christie of Longrain fame and Jonathan Barthelmess at the pans, The Apollo and it’s delectable, price competitive menu and superlative taverna style interior shines a beacon for the Greek not doing so well back home and is an example if any of how in-spite of the industry with it’s volatility, difficulty, and all round pain in the ass customers, a strong business acumen goes a long, long way.
44 Macleay Street, Potts Point
T: (02) 8354 0888
Images courtesy of Scott Needham