1821 on Sydney’s Pitt Street is a European institution. With “Made in Greece” emblazoned on the glass windows, and a ten feet tall Greek flag painted on the wall, customers know they’re in for a night of extravagance before they even cross the threshold.
1821 celebrates all that is decadent, and since the rebrand in February, Greek fine dining is looking better than ever. To take the venue to the next level, 1821 founder and owner Jim Kospetas engaged Greek culinary legend George Economidis as the new Executive Chef. Economidis’ experience is vast and impressive, having been at the helm of three award winning restaurants in Athens. The coastal setting of each of these restaurants is part of Economidis’ passion and lifestyle, and it is this reformed patriotism that has given 1821 its edge.
“My cooking is inspired by my passion to create” said Economidis. “[by] my love for raw ingredients and the blue Greek ocean.”
Economidis is joined by Head Chef Luiza Gomes, a double Michelin Star-trained chef. Gomes solidified her name as a rising star in the world of gastronomy through her time spent cooking world renowned haute cuisine at D.O.M in São Paulo, Brazil.
Despite the audacity of the venue, the food at 1821 is skilfully refined and understated. Economidis and Gomes’s sophisticated style of cooking lets the ingredients shine, without the need for the same decorative flourishes that adorn the walls. 1821 is the sort of restaurant I imagine fishmongers hope their catch will go. With 80% of the menu involving seafood, this is a venue that knows how to treat their fish right. Every dish was presented in a manner that made you focus entirely on the freshness of the produce, a trend adopted widely in the last few years. Gone are the days where food is unceremoniously drowned in sauce minutes before plating. Instead, the meal is left to breathe and the customer encouraged to celebrate every component of the dish. I thank the Greek gods for this.
Fish may be the named hero of the menu, but every dish on the menu could claim this status. The title of ‘modern Greek’ cuisine has always seemed oxymoronic to me, but visiting 1821 defined this genre. The restaurant is undeniably Greek, but nods its head to complimentary cuisines around the world. The stuffed miso eggplant with capsicum coulis and crispy smoked chickpeas is a menu favourite, and is served simply, cut on the vertical and decorated with herbs, a lick of dark miso sauce and three piped dollops of light cream. The calamari is as deliciously crispy as it is crumbly, served with a lime and passionfruit dressing and a caper gremolata that decorated the plate like tiny green pearls.
The Piata menu is where 1821’s love of fusion shines through, with Grecian takes on risotto and spaghetti. Lauded menu additions include the snapper fricassee with spinach, lettuce, and egg-lemon sauce, and the Souvla-style lamb with crackling, an unbelievably smooth potato purée and textural pistachio crumble. A personal favourite was the barramundi with a dashi broth, seasonal vegetables, capers and lime. The crispy skin, and the resounding noise it made when breaking it, was delightful. The oven baked potatoes with thyme, seas salt and olive oil is the perfect side for whatever you order, providing impeccably seasoned accompaniment to any selection of dishes.
The dessert menu celebrates traditional Greek fare, and the galaktoboureko is the dish of choice. The dish is atypically served in the form of cigars, the filo pastry delicately surrounding the custard, and ice cream, with a dusting of cinnamon on the top.
The newly renovated sleek open bar at 1821 is a thing of beauty, as are the selection of drinks coming out of it. Eight indulgent cocktails now grace the menu, courtesy of head mixologist Aaron Goodfellow. The Minotaur (Beefeater Gin, Aperol, lemon juice, lemongrass syrup and basil) was my favourite, combining modern liqueurs with heady herbs and scents that are reminiscent of the dreamy Greek islands. Sommelier Marios Nikifordis curates the wine list, with heavy attention paid to uniquely Greek varieties and celebrating the art of the full-bottle order.
“What makes Greek wine so unique are the more than 300 indigenous grape varieties grown there,” said Nikifordis. “Some of which have been cultivated since ancient times.”
1821 is a celebration in equal parts of the ancient times and the new. The menu shows the very best of traditional Greek food alongside more explorative, contemporary concepts. The refreshed décor by Dimitris Economou has elevated the venue, giving it a pass to join the big leagues of Sydney establishments at last. The onslaught of new talent in 1821 has been a game changer for this Pitt Street icon, and I for one, can’t wait to see what they do next. Opa!
122 Pitt St
Mon – Sat, 12pm – 12am
Sun, 12pm – 10pm