58 Portman St Oakleigh, VIC 3166
|Opening hours||Tue-Fri 5pm-11pm; Sat-Sun noon-11pm|
|Features||Accepts bookings, Licensed|
|Prices||Moderate (mains $20-$40)|
|Payments||eftpos, Visa, Mastercard|
|Phone||03 9569 6767|
There's something quite extraordinary about Oakleigh, when you compare it with other mortgage-belt suburbs – it's got that delicious al fresco vibe, with friends and families lounging outside the sprawling cafes in Eton Mall, the air woozy with Greek coffee and all with the complete absence of hurry.
Round the corner onto Portman Street, you hear Greek music twine through the air and see a couple of bright turquoise tables on the footpath. Step inside and it's like you've stepped in a crack on the map and popped out, rabbit-in-a-hole style, on a Greek island.
Bright white walls crawl with bougainvillea, aqua shutters frame glowing seaside scenes, turquoise shelves heave with ouzo and a sprawling courtyard draped in breezy white fabric and swinging lanterns hosts a convivial hubbub.
Mykonos Taverna is a good time Greek taverna run by Thomas Deliopoulos and Sylvia Gabriel, who run Oakleigh's buzzing, beloved Kalimera Souvlaki Art. Initially modelled as a Greek creperie, they decided to shift the focus to a traditional taverna after feedback from their regular customers. The customer might not always be right but, in this case, they were right on the money.
While Kalimera is ideal for a quick street bite, Mykonos Taverna is where you go for a long, lazy, (ouzey-boozey) get-together.
Get the party started with a few mezze. Divided into hot and cold, there are the classic dips along with a good slew of seafood-centric dishes, like a salty, char-grilled smoked mackerel, doused in olive oil and a sliced onion and tomato.
There are also beer-friendly plates like the zucchini chips – slim, battered discs – or the tomato fritters, fried crisp and deep on the outside, a fluff of tomato and onion on the inside and charging feta mousse on the side.
You'll see Thomas stacking meat over the flames to get juicily charred so it pays to go with something simple like the oregano-crusted spit-roasted lamb, or the char-grilled pork belly. There are also a couple of pastas on the menu, like prawn and ouzo, and the bountiful, colourful Mykonos salad, laden with figs, grapes and prosciutto.
For a gorgeous bowl of comfort food, try the trahana – a warming cracked wheat dish, cooked to a consistency halfway between barley soup and risotto with yoghurt and eggs, chunks of chicken and served in the skillet with a couple of pieces of charred bread.
Service is quick and friendly, with sneakered waitresses running at a swift clip, and servings are incredibly generous, so get some friends and get sharing. And when the live Greek music kicks in, you can really feel the good times roll.
Pro Tip: There's live Greek laika music every Tuesday and Sunday night.
Go-to Dish: Trahana me kotopoulo.