I visited this restaurant recently, for a birthday celebration with Kara, my Mum, my brother, and my 3 year old daughter Ella. Again I was extremely impressed with every aspect of this restaurant. My only complaint would be the fact that the waitress forgot to bring some textas to the table for Ella!
The fitout provides a great sense of theatre as you walk down the long dining room, past the large group table surrounded by drawers full of spices, past the bar, and past the open kitchen's prep bench and grill. You feel like you are actually in the kitchen as you walk past and feel the heat and hear the sizzle coming from the grill, and you watch the chefs slicing and dicing not one foot away from you. We were seated at the end of the room, right next to a cabinet full of tasty looking smoked meats (which I tried last time and were spectacular).
Our waitress was extremely friendly and helpful (as were all the staff) and nothing was too much trouble. She took the time to explain the menu, and the concept of ordering sharing plates or the banquet option (can't remember the name of this now). We opted for making our own selections and were not disappointed. We started with kefalograviera topped with a sharp, acidic, but still sweet spoonful of stewed figs, which was amazing! We also tried the classic spanakopita (i'll stop here and say that I have no idea how to spell some of these dishes but i'm sure you'll get the picture), tzatziki and skordalia, along with the obligatory pita bread, and chicken and lamb straight off the spit (which you can sit right in front of in the outdoor area). The meat was fantastic, great flavours and an awesome smokiness from being roasted slowly over coals. Just the right amount of crispiness from the outer pieces, along with some tender and juicy pieces of meat from the inside. Went down a treat on some pita, and topped with one of the dips. We also ordered some very simple but extremely tasty mushrooms cooked with parsley and garlic, and some hand cut chips. The plates appeared small at first but we were soon all extremely full, and very pleased with the great value. That's not to say there was anything leftover at the end, I think every last morsel had been scraped off the plates! Desserts sounded tempting, but we all needed a bit of time, and churros at chocolateria san churro is Ella's new favourite treat, so we headed there later in the afternoon.
I would go back there in a heartbeat, and think it would be a fantastic place to go with a big group of people, as this style of food is perfectly suited to sharing with friends.
(http://www.sanchurro.com/ - yes chocolate and churros will be your salvation!)
434 Lygon St