The Hellenic House Project | The Good Room

The Hellenic House Project | The Good Room

George Calombaris is back with Highett restaurant: The Hellenic House Project.

The two-storey Greek restaurant everything from takeaway to rustic home cooking. The Hellenic House Project is split into four different spaces that play on the idea of the Greek home, right down to The Good Room, the most elevated offering of the 120-seat venue.


Open: Tues-Thurs: dinner, Fri-Sat: lunch and dinner Review

The Hellenic House Project review: Kara Monssen visits George Calombaris Highett restaurant

After a hiatus from the food world, George Calombaris is back with a new Greek restaurant bayside - and there's one dish that stopped our critic in her tracks.

By definition, it's pasta.

Firm and yolky, crimpy-edged, loosened with a splash of water from the pot.

Add some cheese (yes please), maybe a little sea salt.

But it's so much more.

It's beautiful, simple cooking, 'warm and fuzzies' on a plate, and confidently one of the best things I've eaten this year.

A joyous celebration of chef Anthony Thalassinos's Greek heritage and ravioli-filled years at Park Street Pasta and Wine.

It was also the catalyst for my very real Anton Ego in Ratatouille moment - jolting me back to my gran's doily (and plastic) covered dining table; where I heaped buttery, salty egg-yolk pasta scraps as a child after making varenyky (Ukrainian dumplings).

All hail the hilopites.

The unexpected frontrunner of many soulful, heart-singing dishes by comeback kid George Calombaris at his new Highett digs: The Hellenic House Project.

It's a restaurant that almost never was, turned around by the celebrity chef and mates Phil Hatzikourits and Ivo Baldari in less than six months - thrusting him back into the Melbourne restaurant orbit.

George is back with a bang - and the whole fam's along for the ride.

Blood relatives work the floor alongside his former hospo clan, while his daughter helped design the restaurant logo.

The Press Club sommelier Federico Bianco also returns, spinning the same tricks in the 'good room' upstairs, with Thalassinos (ex-Montalto, Park Street Pasta) coming across from Hotel Sorrento, where George remains culinary director.

George's mitts are all over Hellenic House - from old restaurant memorabilia (check out the upstairs bathroom), his penchant for dramatic dining room ceilings, right down to his signature white tarama and vinegar salted zucchini chips - but there's also something new, too.

The 'kitchen' or front room makes the perfect setting for souvas and cold Alfas, and come summer, so will that backyard space. Upstairs, things get a little fancier under the colbalt blue glow.

The food isn't stuffy, more homely, more-ish with a cheffy uptick.

Take those golden spanakopita bites ($17.50 for three), half-moon crescents acting more like empanadas than pie, swooshed in creamy macadamia skordalia. Wow-wee.

That puree is deserving of its own shelf presence alongside the famed white tarama (which you can buy downstairs). In the 'good room', you'll get battered zucchini strips for dippings ($15.50), dusted in vinegar salt from the archives. A glorious dish you'd wish you could make at home.

Saganaki ($22) gets the escargot treatment, halloumi coins bubbling over black garlic and fig jam in a cast iron plate, ensuring each mound doesn't turn to rubbery ruin when cooled. A clever move.

That lamb shoulder ($55) is so tender it slumps in a heap, lacquered in a prune glaze which surrenders nicely to a glass of snappy xinomavro.

There's plenty else to sate your thirst; traditional cocktails with a Greek bent, non-alc sippers that actually excite, Greek soft drinks, but no espresso. I'm told Greek coffee, made in Melbourne, is on pour.

You could make a meal of that lamb with the sesame-speckled slaw ($16.50), or a mound of those famed feta chips ($15.50) but honestly, I'd be content with a bowl of hilopites and spoonful of chocolate ganache (a recipe by foodie friend Kirsten Tibballs) and call it a night.

One of the great pleasures of eating at Hellenic House is knowing you'll soon be back to try something else.

It's not just the summer of George, The Hellenic House Project is a year-round family celebration with many more seasons to come.

Review by Kara Monssen |
May 12, 2023 -

❊ Address ❊

 ⊜  515 Highett Rd,  Highett  View Map
 ✆ Telephone: 9531 8855
515 Highett Rd, HighettVictoria9531 8855

❊ Web Links ❊

The Hellenic House Project | The Good Room

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The Hellenic House Project | The Good Room