Plaka Gyros review

Plaka Gyros brings modern Greek street eats to Hawthorn's Lido Arcade.
Plaka Gyros brings modern Greek street eats to Hawthorn's Lido Arcade. Photo: Penny Stephens

673 Glenferrie Rd Hawthorn, VIC 3122

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Opening hours Tue-Sun 11.30am-9pm
Features Licensed
Prices Moderate (mains $20-$40)
Payments eftpos, Visa, Mastercard
Phone 03 9995 4272

It makes as much sense as lemon on calamari: immigrant food can get stuck in the era of the dominant wave of arrivals. In 1901 there were just 878 Greeks in Australia. Following a huge influx in the 1950s and 1960s, the 1971 census counted 160,200 Greece-born people, almost half of them in Melbourne. Immigration tapered from the early 1970s so the Greek food here is often archival, representing the time of emigration rather than what's happened in the old country since.

There's also the divergence and delight of assimilation: souvlaki has become as Aussie as a drop punt. Greek yoghurt, taramasalata and sticky baklava are staples for people of every background. But it all adds up to difference: Melbourne's version of Greek cuisine doesn't mirror the Hellenic Republic today.

Plaka Gyros is different. It's owned by Connie Kosmidou and her partner Nick Spantidis who arrived in Melbourne just 10 years ago. Their first restaurant, Kolonaki, opened in Malvern in 2020; they sold it to launch Plaka this January.

Chicken souvlaki is "as Aussie as a drop punt".
Chicken souvlaki is "as Aussie as a drop punt". Photo: Penny Stephens

Plaka – like Kolonaki, named after a neighbourhood in Athens – serves contemporary street food: vibrant, tasty, prepared with thought and care. The colourful shop is geared for takeaway but there are 21 seats and more coming. Connie trained in cafes, including Elsternwick's Carter Lovett, where the hospitality ethics are solid. Her service style at Plaka is simple but polished.

Chicken, lamb and pork is portioned, marinated and grilled on a vertical rotisserie: shaved to order, it's succulent and fragrant with a light lick of char.

Beef keftedes are made with a mince mix that also includes lamb and pork for body and sweetness. They're heady with oregano and cumin, threaded with paprika and judiciously seasoned.

Platters are the way to go if you're dining in.
Platters are the way to go if you're dining in. Photo: Penny Stephens

Pita wraps are the portable option but if you're eating in, generous platters are the way to go.

Skepasti is the thrilling Greek version of a club sandwich. Pita triangles are layered with chicken, bacon, lettuce, tomato, onion and Plaka sauce (a spicy mayo-mustard mix) in a rainbow riot of punchy flavour and juicy crunch. (Over-orderers tip: it toasts beautifully the next day.)

Simple but excellent salads include a classic Greek dusted with dried oregano, and a hearty grain salad.

Zucchini, tomato and feta fritters with sides.
Zucchini, tomato and feta fritters with sides. Photo: Penny Stephens

Fritters combine classic zucchini with Santorini-style tomato: they're crisp and hearty, oozing with feta.

Most ingredients are local but there's pride in bringing in key Greek items: olive oil, pita, oregano and feta are imported.

Though the lively neighbourhoods of Athens are the inspiration, Melbourne can't help elbowing in. People kept asking for hummus, so Connie came up with her own version, blended with marinated artichokes.

Chicken skepasti (pita sandwich).
Chicken skepasti (pita sandwich). Photo: Penny Stephens

Paximadi is a Cretan rusk; they're crumbled and tumbled with cherry tomatoes, red onion, roasted peppers and anchovy dressing.

Plaka Gyros is just getting started. Village dishes – rooster with macaroni, rabbit stew and trahana soup made with fermented grains – are planned, as well as an expanded wine list.

Whether you're grabbing a pre-movie bite or coming especially for Athenian action, Plaka meets you, greets you and happily hits the spot.

https://www.plakagyros.com.au/