You can either walk up an intimidating amount of stairs to the pool level where Hellenika sits, or take the lift in the lobby. If you're in high heels, I suggest the lift:-) You will see a very inviting area with a pool, and cabanas where you can sit and drink, or order from the poolside menu, which has snacks and wraps for your delectation.
|looking out from our table over trendy James Street
Lorraine being an intrepid eater and reviewer led the push to try innovative dishes, rather than the usual Greek suspects. She asked the advice of our waiter, who was hesitant to suggest dishes, but she managed to strong-arm (just kidding) another waiter-fellow who was happy to point out popular, interesting dishes on the menu.
We started off with cocktails: I had a gimlet, which is gin, elderflower, lemon and prosecco, while she had an ari onassis - similar to mine but with mastiha - a liqueur flavoured with mastic, a resin exclusively from trees on the island of Chios. They were refreshing on a warm evening, though I think Lorraine had chosen the better one. I was hoping for a bit more oomph in mine.
|ari onassis $19
We were given a shot glass with a fish and something? soup - I didn't catch the other flavour. For some reason, I expected it to be cold, but it was a warm and tasty little start to the meal. I couldn't taste the fish particularly, but it got the tastebuds going in anticipation.
|fetta and capsicum dip $16
This was rich and a bit oily, and came studded with chunks of fetta. I can't say it rocked my world, but we both happily slathered the dip on the crusty bread, and chowed down.
|yep you guessed it - crusty bread for the dip
This is grilled cheese with lemon; a salty, chewy treat. It's made with kefalograviera, a sheep's milk cheese, dusted in flour and fried. I'm not much of a cheese eater, but this was well-flavoured and tasty. And always made better with a squeeze of lemon.
|Murray River cod $100 - 500g.
|another view of the cod
Oh my, the baked Murray cod with caramelised onion was absolutely superb: tender and moist, sitting in a creamy (capsicum?) sauce, with soft, sweet onions overlaying it. It was a mild, not overly fishy fish dish, and really moreish. We both loved the texture and flavours of this one. A real winner, and highly recommended by me! And Lorraine too, I'm sure. The flesh seemed to be boneless, apart from a few in the head. And you can just see the eye peeking out from under the onions. I would happily eat this every week. Though I don't think my budget would like that:-)
|baby gem lettuce with cheese $18
This leafy green side (called Marouli) comes with kefalotiri cheese. Neither of us made much of a dent in this one; I think because we'd already eaten well, and dressed leaves (even with a tangy olive oil) just weren't that interesting by that point in the night. After all, we had to leave room for dessert, didn't we?
|orzo with spanner crab $32
We also tried the kritharaki, orzo pasta with Fraser Coast spanner crab. There wasn't a hugely crabby flavour here, though you can see it dotted amongst the orzo. I enjoyed the texture of the orzo, and found this a pleasant if not spectacular dish.
|halva ice cream $6 per scoop
I really loved this dessert of vanilla ice cream with a generous coat of halva on top. It was cool and nutty (or should I say seedy?), smooth and delicious down my throat. A winner for me! Our waiter definitely steered us right with this one.
|bougatsa $14 (sorry, crap photo)
The waiter told us the bougatsa was another popular dessert, and it being a fave of Lorraine's, we ordered this too. Phyllo wrapped around a custard filling, with a warm lemon syrup - you can't go wrong with this. Crunchy outside, smooth inside, icing sugar and sugared lemon strips on top. We were full, we were happy, we decided to call it a night, sans coffee as I have enough trouble sleeping:-)
And just because I think it looked interesting, here you have a gratuitous view of one of the hotel corridors. I left Lorraine to her elegant and spacious hotel room, while I wandered off home, replete with delicious flavours and textures. Oh yes, and I really fancy a drink by the pool next time.
You can enjoy breakfast, lunch or dinner here every day of the week. Or just a drink and snacks by the pool. Or go ahead and eat popular Greek dishes like moussaka, or spanakopita or baked lamb or ... well, you get the picture. You can even get married here, if you feel the need. Our waiter told us the restaurant is booked out for Fridays/Saturdays till March 2019! So get cracking, and maybe try another night. It was full even on a Monday night when we dined, so remember to reserve a table.
(I was Lorraine's guest, who was a guest of Hellenika's. So thanks to her and to Hellenika. All opinions remain my own however!)
The Calile Hotel
Pool Deck, Level 1
48 James St., Fortitude Valley 4006
Ph: 07 3252 2060