When two stalwarts of the industry unite to open a restaurant, there are high expectations.
When legends of hospitality, Angie Giannakodakis and Guy Holder announced they were taking Cretan food to Camberwell, the expectations were even higher. The dynamic duo teamed up with Cretan soulmate, Disa Dimitrakakis, floor manager of Epocha, and what a team they make.
The formidable trio has enough experience to run ten restaurants. Angie was formerly General Manager of George Calombaris’ The Press Club group, while Guy completed a tour of duty in some of Melbourne’s finest restaurants before joining with Angie to open Carlton’s Epocha. After its resounding success, they turned east, opening a Cretan-inspired restaurant named after an ancient city close to Disa’s mother’s village.
‘Elyros smashes all expectations into the ballpark, successfully bringing the relatively unknown cuisine to the eastern suburbs of Melbourne. The better- known cousin of Greek food commits to seasonality and regional cooking – just as the very healthy Cretans do.
The venue is split into three parts: the dining room, mezze bar and The Amari function room. However, no matter where you’re sitting, the pride in provenance across the entire menu is the same. The kitchen team expertly balances the flavours of the island with the bountiful produce available in Australia. The olive oil and salt is of course imported from Crete, but almost everything else is made in house from the daily bread to small goods and cheese. Wild greens are sourced from a small group of foragers around the city, the meats are free-range and grass-fed and the seafood is sourced fresh.
Start with the kalistounia, traditional cheese pies made from Disa’s family recipe, before trying the house-made lamb, honey and thyme sausages. Pair your mezze of cured mackerel, lakertha, with taramosalata and a seasonal Cretan salad, before moving onto the larger plates. The Kakavia fisherman’s stew showcases the best of the day’s seafood, served with horta – summer greens. Meanwhile the sticky lamb draws inspiration from the mountains of Crete.
When it comes to the sweets, ‘Elyros has you covered. Try the bougatsa with semolina custard and cinnamon, or the risogalo – flavoured with fig leaf and the seasons’ best fruit. If you’re more of a savoury savant, opt for a Cretan style cheese platter, served with honey imported from the island and house- made rusks.
If you’re after a drink and some nibbles the mezze bar follows a similar, delicious tune, with dishes all designed to share. The fava spread with warm bread will start you on the right foot, as will the pickled baby octopus. Bigger dishes include omathies – sausages of rice, liver and currants, and slow-cooked lamb ribs.
The Amari Room is ‘Elyros’ homage to another side of Crete. The upstairs private room is sun-filled and intimate, great for larger groups of 30 and above, celebrating any occasion. The menu is tailor made for each event and any dietary requirements.
Wherever you choose to dine, the ethos at ‘Elyros is the same: the freshest produce paired with expert techniques and a commitment to the Cretan lifestyle. With such an expert team behind it, it’s no wonder it’s a crowd favourite.