I’ve often walked past the Athenian restaurant in Barrack St. I stop to admire the statue of Athena donated to the people of Sydney by the mayor of Athens. So when I was searching for a restaurant in the city that could handle a large group, with a request for European food, Athenian seemed worth a try. The restaurant turned out to be a good choice for our group of twenty and the meals were good, although not exceptional.
Athenian is a huge restaurant and it puts its walls to good use displaying mural-sized images of Greece. Several of the Parthenon looking stately and one of a whitewashed village are quite startling. The staff were thorough, and used little electronic devices to track our order. When I mentioned my gluten free diet the waiter went to ask about my meal choice, an approach I find very reassuring. They were also careful to check that everyone received their order for each course.
We started by sharing some entrees. I was impressed with the haloumi, which was flavoursome and not rubbery.
For main course I had the stuffed cabbage, which was pleasant, but became rather monotonous when you were faced with a plateful.
There were mixtures of stuffed veggies, either with meat or vegetarian, which were reportedly not bad, but again monotonous. I think a better choice of meal would be the Athenian special, which gave you a taste of everything.
The prawn cutlets were happily received – lauded actually – because of their outstanding crispiness. The veal scallopini was reported to be salty. The Vienna schnitzel got mixed reviews. The orderer was looking for an unintimidating meal, and was shocked to find the schnitzel was not your average bistro fare. The crumb crust featured herbs, and the selection of Greek vegetables was an exotic collection including broad beans and spinach. Another taste-tester provided a second opinion that it was very nice, but it wasn’t the right choice for a beginner in foreign food.
Finding that we had some time left before our 8:30 Karaoke session we decided to order dessert. We were disappointed to find that quite a few of the desserts on the menu were not available. We were notified about a couple of these by the waiter when we began to order, but more were revealed when people tried to order them. There had been a large function at lunchtime, but while running out of a prepared dessert like Baklava is understandable it seems less reasonable to be out of yoghurt.
With the confusion behind us our desserts began to arrive. The only sad face was at the sight of the Turkish delight. This dessert, at two dollars, turned out to be one bite-sized square. This might have been excused if it hadn’t been for the plates of complementary Turkish delight served soon afterwards. The owner of the original square was not impressed, understandably. The coffee, icecream and rice pudding got happier receptions.
On the whole Athenian is a good restaurant for large groups and served decent food in large portions. It doesn’t fail expectations, but it doesn’t exceed them either.
Ratings (out of 5 snorts)