Our next monthly dinner took us to a newly opened Greek Restaurant - Meze Mazi at 86b Prospect Rd, Prospect. Having a few Greek Tempting Palates members in the group, it was always going to be a hard sell to impress them. They all think their Mamma and Yiayia make the best Greek food!
Meze Mazi gives you the vibe of a taverna but the class of a restaurant. With cute little wooden tables and raffia stringed chairs it oozes the charm of a traditional Greek Eatery for modern times. Charming and friendly with the warmth of Greek hospitality.
Tempting Palates sat down with Adelaide born owner Andreas Papadakis who moved to the village of Chromonastiri on the Greek Island of Crete when he was two years old and returned to his place of birth three years ago. Andreas family background was in restaurants so it was always something he too wanted to do. Coming back to Australia was a calling to follow his dream of opening a traditional Greek restaurant in Adelaide. Recruiting his Head Chef Angelos from Greece was crucial to his vision of the kind of Greek food he wanted to showcase in Adelaide. Much of the menu is of traditional Greek recipes from the Asia Minor region and Andreas' focus is on serving more traditional Greek food than the usual fare we're all used to seeing in restaurants around town.
Meze is lots of small dishes and Mazi in Greek means together. The best way to enjoy Greek food is to have it meze style and all together! The Trio of Dips is always a good way to start off a journey of a culinary feast with Tzatziki, Skordalia and Melitzanosalata dips along with well cooked pitta bread. The tzatziki was smooth, creamy and garlicky. The skordalia had a different twist with the addition of pecan nuts which surprisingly worked really well but the group favourite, nevertheless, was the melitzanosalata with its light, fresh and tasty flavours. It had lovely chunky bits and the smoked eggplant flavour instantly won us over!
On recommendation by Andreas we ordered the Feta Filo which is pan fried Feta cheese wrapped in filo and drizzled with honey and sesame. The honey complimented the crispy filo pastry with the feta cheese oozing out with each bite. Delicious!
To further continue with our love of cheese we ordered the Saganaki Kefalograviera. A golden pan fried delight. Don't forget to squeeze lots of lemon on it and eat it while its hot!
Spanakopita is almost a staple dish in every Greek household so we were intrigued to try this one and compare. The homemade filo had a crispiness and there was a good balance of spinach and feta. It sure passed the test!
Saganaki Prawns is a dish that you find in many restaurants in Greece and it was exciting to see it on the menu. Succulent ouzo flamed prawns in an olive oil and feta tomato sauce. The ouzo flavour was prominent while the feta was blended in nicely with the sauce to create a well balanced and tasty dish.
The highlight of the night was the Char-grilled Octopus. This was the best char-grilled octopus we have eaten at any restaurant. Cooking octopus is almost an art form. If you leave it even for a second longer than it needs, it can turn to rubber. This octopus was perfectly cooked. So tender and succulent. The smokey flavour enhanced the taste and along with the juices just simply had our palates dancing. This was a-MEZE-ing to put it into words!
The Lamb Shoulder is slow cooked with a honey mustard glaze and served with Greek style oven baked potatoes and tzatziki. The lamb was well cooked and definitely tender. Although there was a subtle taste of the honey glaze, there was a consensus among the group that it lacked that wow factor. Something as simple as a bit more salt or seasoning could have enhanced the flavour of this dish. The potatoes had a lovely lemon flavour that reminded us of the kind you get in many Greek tavernas in Greece.
It's always good to order the Souvlakia at a Greek restaurant but at Meze Mazi it is a MUST! The word souvlaki is a diminutive of the Greek word Souvla which means Skewer. Greeks love char-grilling their meats on skewers. These Chicken Souvlakia were juicy, tender and flavoursome. We were conservative and only ordered one for the table but that was a big mistake! They were another popular dish amongst the group.
For anyone looking for a vegetarian option, the Gemista is the perfect dish for you! Capsicum stuffed with rice, pine nuts, shavings of carrot and herbs served with roasted potatoes and Greek yoghurt. The red capscicum added a sweet element while the pine nuts gave the dish a crunchy one. The rice was soft and creamy and well seasoned. Most in the group agreed that this was another winning dish.
Another recommendation by Andreas was the Cypriot Salad with quinoa, lentils, almonds, pine nuts, pepitas, currants, red onion and parsley topped with cumin and honey yoghurt. There were so many elements to this salad - crunchy, sweet, fresh, creamy and a very distinct Middle Eastern flavour.
After such a large Greek feast our stomachs said no to dessert but our hearts had a resounding YES, PLEASE! We decided on just two desserts - the Loukoumades (of course) and the Ekmek.
Ok the search is over...these Loukoumades were the best we have had in any restaurant in Adelaide and we can also add - in Australia so far. They were exactly how they should be - golden and crunchy on the outside while being light and fluffy on the inside. These were very traditional Loukoumades. With sprinkling of chopped nuts, sesame and the drizzled honey, it was fairly easy to eat more than one or two or three!
The best way to describe Ekmek (also known to Greeks as Kataifi) is that it's a shredded pastry traditionally used to make desserts that are soaked in syrup. This dessert had a bottom layer of shredded pastry with syrup, middle layer of custard and a top layer of fresh cream topped with a sprinkle of chopped nuts and cinnamon. The custard and cream were deliciously smooth and creamy. The kataifi was soft with the right amount of syrup to hold it together and to make this a light yet tasty dessert that didn't leave you feeling guilty.
After a Greek feast it is always nice to sip on a Greek Coffee. Oh and remember - don't drink the "mud" on the bottom of the cup!
A custom in many Greek restaurants in Greece is "Kerasma" or to treat the patrons a shot of alcohol. On this occasion we were kindly treated to a shot glass of Turkish Delight Liqueur.
Andreas and his team certainly know how to make their customers feel important. The service to all the tables, not just ours, was professional, attentive and with that touch of Greek humour and warm hospitality. These days patrons have a high expectation and want good quality food. Head Chef Angelos has maintained the traditional aspects of all the dishes that works well in these modern times to please the demands of customers. If you want a taste of Greece but can't afford the airfare then Meze Mazi gives you Greece on a plate. Tempting Palates highly recommends you put this place on your dining list!
Rating 9.5 (EP) Extremely Palatable
Where: Meze Mazi 86b Prospect Rd, Prospect
Open: Tues - Thurs 6.00pm - 9.00pm, Fri - Sun 12.00pm - 2.30pm & 6.00pm - 9.00pm