Hellenic Republic, Kew

Hellenic Republic is a popular Greek restaurant in both Kew and Brunswick East, priding itself on simple and fresh produce from both Melbourne and Greece. I'd been to the Brunswick East one a couple of years ago and had a really great experience, and this visit to the Kew restaurant did not disappoint either. The Kew restaurant is located near Kew Junction, can be accessed via trams 109 or 48, and there's plenty of parking at the back.

There's a very holiday feel to the decor at Hellenic Republic, with all the straw hanging across the ceiling together with all the small light bulbs and the pale wooden furniture. The atmosphere at the restaurant is very lively with all the customers; it's such a popular place that you'd most likely have to book a table in advance. The staff were friendly and attentive, and we didn't have to wait too long for our food.

The menu at Hellenic Republic is designed to be shared, and there's a good range of entrees, mains and desserts to choose from. Between four of us, we ordered the pita bread ($5), an artichoke dip ($12), saganaki ($16), a grain salad ($13), chips ($11), the main dish of lamb shoulder ($35) and two desserts; the black sesame panna cotta ($13) and the loukoumades ($13).

The jerusalem artichoke dip came with capers and feta, and together with the pita bread, made for a really great combination of textures and flavours. The soft pita bread was still warm when it was brought out, and the dip was slightly sweet and smooth in consistency. The saganaki (fried cheese) came with peppered figs on top, so had a perfect balance of savoury and sweet, with a slightly chewy texture that made for a delicious entree dish.

The cypriot grain salad consisted of pomegranate, greek yoghurt, freekah, lentils, currants, pine nuts and parsley. It was a light and refreshing salad that had lots of natural flavours, from the sweet pomegranate and currants to the sour greek yoghurt that mixed really well with all the grains.

The lamb shoulder was served with range of herbs such as mint, parsley, capers and basil. The lamb was extremely soft and tender, falling apart when cut into and melting in your mouth. It had a really great lamb flavour and was lovely and juicy, with the herb sauce balancing the lamb out when it got a bit heavier.

There were too many good options for dessert to just go with one, and both of the ones we got were really enjoyable. The haloumi loukoumades (greek donuts) with lemon curd were doughy but not dry, and the sour lemon curd combined with the sugary dusting on the exterior of the doughnut for a good balance of flavours.

The black sesame panna cotta was served with a crumble, blood orange sorbet and white chocolate, and was an explosion of flavours and textures with each bite. The sorbet was sour, the panna cotta slightly sweet, and together with the white chocolate and crunchy crumble, was a light dessert that made for a great finish to our meal.

I'd definitely recommend coming to Hellenic Republic for a great Greek food experience, in particular in big groups to try out all their delicious dishes!

Ambience: 8.5/10 
Service: 8.5/10
Food: 9/10
Price: $$$

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