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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 13 July 2019
12 THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 13 JULY 2019 DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM Tasmania’s Urban Greek food heaven A family from Crete, continues its culinary legacy in Hobart offering lessons in Hellenic hospitality and exceptional food NELLY SKOUFATOGLOU C ombining the best of old and new worlds, Urban Greek is a contemporary restaurant that refreshes the classics with a Tasmanian twist. Located in the heart of Hobart, one can find Greek favourites infused with locally-sourced produce of fresh seafood and lambs. The interior is modern and inviting with a double touch of Ancient Greece and Greek-island living respectively, a combination making the spot a popular dining destination for family and friends. Perfect for casual style dining, generous servings and a menu that won't blow the budget, the Urban Greek is definitely at the top of the todo list when visiting Tasmania; and it's always at full capacity. Neos Kosmos came across this new gem while visiting the southernmost state of Australia and was impressed by the both the menu and the fit-out. We asked a few questions to find out who's behind it and how it all started. The owners - a Greek family who came to Australia seven years ago - decided to get back to their roots in the hospitality industry by opening The Urban Greek after after spending two years running a convenience store in the outer suburbs of Hobart. They have always had a long connection to Tasmania through brothers Sava and George Kakkos, who run the business and were also born in Hobart. The brothers, having spent many years back home in Greece working in bars, clubs and restaurants were the perfect fit for this role. The family could see a gap in the market for a restaurant to serve authentic Cretan-style cuisine and since opening in late November of 2015, things have only been getting busier. Though it is based in the same building that used to house the (in)famous Garagistes, nothing in it is reminiscent of the old venue. The new restaurant sports an open industrial-styled kitchen surrounded by communal tables and a long bar. The owners have added bright Greek mythologyreferenced artwork on an entry wall, and all the tableware is Greek-inspired in the colours of the sea and the sky while the rest of the venue allows for plenty - but not too much - light to fill the space. At the same time the wooden surfaces in dark brown and black shades create a warm and strong vibe. The Ancient Greek and mythological ambience reaches all the way to the shared meze platters named Minotaur, Hippocrates and Aristotle serving different varieties of the restaurant's most mouth-watering dishes. Living in Greece was an ideal place to grow up and experience good food, celebrations and the idyllic Mediterranean lifestyle and Cretan culture. The choice of Urban Greek as the name was centred around the idea of making the name easier for people who aren't Greek to understand what the general style of the restaurant is. Simply, Greek food in an urban environment. "The style of the food was influenced by the life experience of the growing up in Crete surrounded by fresh fruit, vegetables and livestock. The addition of our current head chef in 2016 helped propel us to the heights we have reached now and he regularly adds in new dishes that come from his many years of experience in Cretan cuisine," George says. "The fit-out was all from the minds of the family and heavily influenced by the industrial nature of the space that the restaurant is in whilst adding in heavy dashes of Greek mythology to give the customers a sense of place. There was a definite desire to change the mainstream perception of what a Greek restaurant looks like in Australia." BEING GREEK IN TASMANIA "Tasmania compares quite well with Crete and has a very similar lifestyle with the tiny (read sarcasm) exception of the weather," he laughs. However the opportunities available in Tasmania and by extension, Australia, mean that for the time being we will be staying here. At the same time and while the Greek community in Tasmania isn't enormous, making up less than 3 per cent of the population, it is well engaged in public and business life. "There is a Greek street festival held once a year that is very well attended by the general public, and several times a year, the community organises Greek music nights with singers from Melbourne and Greece. The Urban Greek's customers are often surprised by the generosity of the Cretan/Greek serving portions and they always compliment the service, hospitality and food. "At first the sharing philosophy of Greek cuisine was met with slight resistance, but as the time has gone by our customers have come to love it. Our customers really enjoy the Cretan and Greek products that they haven't gotten to try before," he enthuses. "After living for more than 20 years in the idyllic and culture rich island of Crete, we decided to return to Hobart and with us, we bought countless experiences, memories and recipes to share." Food in Crete - and Greece in general - is a social and sharing experience, where dishes made with love and care, create the centre around which friends and family gather. Everything is made with the finest ingredients, following ancient old family recipes passed on form generation to generation.
06 July 2019