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Press reviews

The Age ‘Good Food Guide’- Score 14/20

“…clearly devoted to authentic Greek cuisine. Just ask the friendly staff about the Cretan specialties and you’ll have a friend for life.””Food, like the welcoming atmosphere, comes in welcoming portions.””But some of the most rewarding choices are the seasonal specials: things like a slow braise of kid, cooked to melting tenderness…”

The Age Good Food Guide Edition -

Score 14/20

“Philhellene offers a satisfying romp through the flavours of Ancient Greece’s many historical outposts, with influences from regional Crete and as far afield as Cyprus and the Middle East.The homely, bare brick interior is warm and welcoming.In true Greek style, portions are robust and servings generous.The specials board offers plenty of not-so-usual choices if you’re feeling adventurous. Standouts include the mum made kalitsounia ; and the slow roasted lemony lamb leg, done to fall apart perfection.”


The Herald Sun, Sunday  –


“These are simple flavours of provincial cuisine, where you can identify every ingredient in the dish.My dish of lamb and artichoke fricassee ($31), from the special’s board, is the epitome of the simple home cooking for which Philhellene has become renowned in its three years.The chunks of lamb shoulder have been slow cooked to tender perfection, and swim in a silky egg and lemon sauce alongside halved artichoke slices to be mopped up with bread.The food arrives from the kitchen piping hot — a big tick for a basic dining principle that is all too often overlooked in Melbourne restaurants.We are also impressed by the wine list, about triple the size of the food menu, that boasts reasonable priced tipples from a Cypriot winery alongside local brands.But it’s the simple touches, such as oversized wine glasses, quality napery and the elegant wooden bar that greets you on arrival, that lift this into a classic night out.

This is hearty, traditional, home cooking at its best

The Age Good Food Guide Edition, Score: 14/20

“After only a couple of years in Moonee Ponds, Philhellene has established itself as a very good restaurant, not only for locals wanting great Greek food but as a place that’s worth crossing town for. Service is delivered by a team who know what hospitality is all about.””The best advice is to look to the specials board: perhaps for slow-roasted goat, the fall-apart chunks of sweet meat on the bone…or for silverbeet dolmades with a warm spiced beef filling””The a la carte menu lists most of what you’d expect, with some extra interest thanks to Cypriot and Middle Eastern influences. A good starting point might be torpedo-shaped koupes of burghul wheat and beef mince, stuffed with haloumi cheese, pine nuts and parsley.”

Epicure, The Age – Reviewed by Matt Preston

…There’s also been a bit of Greek hubbub in Melbourne in the past six months, thanks to the debate over which of the flurry of recently opened ouzerias and new-age tavernas is best. I will say this: with its woody interior, wood-burning stove, bentwood chairs and tables covered in butcher’s paper and white cloths, Moonee Ponds’ Philhellene is the most homely of the new arrivals.Coming here we largely ignore the menu in favour of the specials board. It’s the way to go, suggests co-owner John Rerakis later as we pay the bill. Rerakis’ previous place, Pireaus Blues in Fitzroy, is credited as a pioneer in trying to break the perception that Greek food only came as a banquet of dodgy platters. The specials board continues this approach, concentrating attention on the dishes that Philhellene’s kitchen is proudest of.Even after cutting the two dozen or so choices on the main menu out, we still stall over whether a hefty serve of prawns saganaki – not fried with cheese but pan-cooked and served in a tomato sauce – or roast kid should be our second main.

Despite having also ordered a dark stew of lamb loaded with globe artichokes, we pick the goat. It arrives with lemony oven-cooked potatoes; the meat falling off the little bones. It could only be improved by a little more stickiness in the meat, but even with this the lamb stew would still be the best thing we eat. Its complex, silken gravy thickly coats juicy halves of artichoke hearts and tender lamb chunks as almost the perfect definition of Greek comfort food.Entree choices are no less fraught. But we are always going to order the dolmades when John explains that they are made by his mum. The silverbeet, rice and beef mince filling has a hefty dose of cumin.For dessert, it’s hard to go past Philhellene’s favourite of roast quinces flavoured with cloves and cooked to the colour of a particularly vivid sunset with halva ice-cream. This is despite the temptation of more traditional denouements such as custard-filled bougatsa.

Extra Food Magazine, Read’em & eat – The Herald Sun Best Greek-leaning

More Cretan than strictly Greek, new bistro Philhellene calls its dishes “Greek Provincial”. And it doesn’t really matter what its influences are once you start eating. The moussaka was the best I’ve eaten, and the wet-roasted goat is sublime, the meat so tender you could serve it at creches and to the very toothless. An unreconstructed Cretan, John Rerakis and his wife Susie, former co-owners of Pireaus Blues, have created Philhellene slong with their partner Manny Gerassimou, to show that hospitality survives. Servings are huge, the welcome is hugely warm and their mothers still prepare some of the regional classics, silverbeet dolmades being a great Melbourne dish.

Sunday Magazine – The Herald Sun, March

…With bare brick walls, a thatched ceiling and iron chandeliers, its warm and welcoming rather than sleek and chic. Still, its lively and seasonal home style food deftly avoids the greasy Greek clichés. Drawing on the owners’ family backgrounds, the menu is peppered with treats you won’t find at your average suburban taverna: traditional Cretan kalitsounia pastries made by co-owner John Rerakis’ mother Katina, or Cypriot bulgar wheat and mince beef koupes. But tonight, we’re mesmerized by the specials board, ordering almost every entrée: golden zucchini flowers folded around lively herbed rice; succulent mushrooms crammed with a mélange of calamari, swordfish and prawns and baked under a crown of creamy béchamel; fat, silvery sardines flashed on the char-grill; baby calamari encasing a fresh jumble of fetta and spinach.After sharing one of Katina’s disarmingly light kalitsounia of leek, fetta and dill, we think we can eat no more, but we’re soon mopping up the juices of our shared main of tender lamb and artichoke fricase. As we swoon over a finale of baked figs with cognac and halva ice-cream, we conclude that perhaps greed, not Greek, is the best word to describe tonight’s dining experience.

ExtraFood Magazine – The Herald Sun

Score: 40 out of 50
Philhellene reminds us of what Melbourne does better than any other city. Spacious, cheap and comfortable, it’s a place that should quickly become a favourite. It’s a modest ethnic place that delivers in all respects. The tradition continues.…In several visits here I’m yet to be disappointed hugely by anything. But a warning: don’t get greedy. Servings are huge
…A special of moussaka the size of half a brick, was the best version of this standard I’ve eaten.
…And the meat on a knobby pile of wet-roasted goat bones could have been masticated by a newborn baby.
…Philhellene’s owners are front of house, the best place for them to be, so service is surveillant. You’ll get advice on all aspects of food and drink and guests here are valued and respected

The Serve’ M Magazine – The Age

The family who started Brunswick Street’s Pireaus Blues have opened a homely Greek restaurant. Even when it’s hot, the lemon lamb and kid goat roasts are irresistible. Seafood and grill platters are an easy option to share, especially when partnered with a Cypriot cabbage salad with white and red cabbage and marinated currants.

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