“Can I start you ladies off with a drink?” is perhaps the finest sentence that can be uttered in the English language, particularly after a five kilometre walk. The Wednesday early-evening weather was characteristically beautiful ‘Sydney summer’, and the stroll from the Sydney city centre over to the Eastern suburb of Woollahra was filled with tree-lined avenues and gorgeous terraces. Having walked up an appetite and thirst, we stepped into the modern yet understated sleek interior of The Phoenix Hotel to be greeted with a smile and an invitation to sit wherever we liked.
We had a look around and could not help but laugh at the charging ports with the variety of phone adapters lined up in front of the bar stools.
We decide to start off the mid-week evening with a cocktail each. I decide to try the Phoenix Rising ($17), a drink reflective of the venue’s own recent makeover, and celebrating the occasion through a combination of Citron vodka and a splash of Aperol – so summery and refreshing. My dinner partner tried the Lychee Stylin’ ($18): lychee liquor mixed with Tanqueray Gin and topped off with bubbly prosecco. It was quite dry with the addition of prosecco, but with a quick stir the lychee liquor sweetened up the beverage beautifully.
The menu is mostly comprised of small, sharing Greek dishes and some larger dishes of pub steak and chips, fish of the day, crab angel hair pasta and classic Greek gyros served with chips. There’s a weekday special of $10 gyros, and with that deal it’s hard to say no to ordering one to share.
The Lamb Gyros, served with chips ($17) has melt-in-the-mouth soft and succulent lamb fragrant with smokey oregano, fresh tomato and red onion, wrapped in warm and fluffy pita bread. Open it up and generously slather on some of the accompanying tzatziki while biting down on the hot chips, sprinkled with feta cheese.
We also order a variety of the small dishes to share, enjoying the tender Marinated Souvlaki Chicken with Tzatziki ($15). The pita bread is one of the fluffiest I’ve ever had.
The meatballs in the Keftedes with Paprika Passata ($15) were fragrantly spiced and tender and barely required the generous amount of paprika passata accompanying it.
The Haloumi with Fig, Ouzo and Black Pepper ($13) is a staple Greek share dish, and it was deliciously moreish and nicely balanced – the saltiness of the cheese lightened with a squeeze of lemon and the pungent sweetness of the figs, the flavour condensed so that it tasted almost like a quince paste.
Continuing on with the cheese theme, we get another classic, the Spanakopita ($10).
Perfectly-sized and neatly folded, the crisp pastry shatters easily. While there was more pastry to the ricotta-spinach-mixture ratio, it was a cute little entree that goes down well.
Diving into the hot items first, we had left the Beef Carpaccio ($16) to the end but discovered that we would have appreciated it better had we consumed it first.
It was one of the most delicate carpaccios I’ve ever tasted – sliced so thinly that you could see through each piece, sprinkled with capers, herbs, pepper and a drizzle of olive oil. It tasted amazing, but your palate can’t appreciate it at its best after having the other, more stronger-flavoured dishes prior to this.
Overall, The Phoenix Hotel has a very much laidback vibe about it, with a solid small Greek eats menu and a cocktail menu perfect for the warm, Sydney summer evenings. Set amongst the leafy backstreets of Woollahra, it’s a wonderful place to relax and watch the world go by.
The Phoenix Hotel
1 Moncur Street, Woollahra, Sydney NSW
Phone: (02) 9363 2608
I Ate My Way Through dined as guests of Phoenix Diner