Greek food is one of my favourites and although I can name a number of reliably delicious options in Brisbane (mostly around the West End area), it always excites me to see new additions to our dining scene. Atalanta opened a while back in Portside Wharf and at first I was wary because I heard some mixed reviews but then my friend Jenny said it was good and I trust her opinion more than anyone else's. We arranged to have a group dinner there last Saturday night.
The restaurant is large and quite easy to find. It's located near the entrance of Portside Wharf, directly opposite IGA. It was busy on a Saturday night and very, very noisy. A large portion of our night was spent yelling "hey? Sorry, what?" and smiling and pretending to hear what others were saying when all we (or at least, all I) could hear was the persistent drone of a very chatty crowd. As the night progressed this became slightly less of a problem, I think because we naturally got louder the more we drank.
Watermelon and basil margarita
Speaking of drinks, there's a good selection of alcoholic beverages. The majority of the group tucked into beers but I started with a watermelon margarita (very tasty) and progressed to wine.
The food menu at Atalana is designed for sharing. In theory, this should be perfect for a group dinner but it was actually quite a headache deciding what everyone was in the mood for. Luckily most of our table lost interest and left that ordering to Jenny and myself so we just powered through and chose a selection of starters and mains.
Warm pita - with taramasalata, hummus and tzatziki
Breads and dips was exactly as expected. The single serve of dip was huge but for our table of 7 we added an order of extra bread to keep everyone satisfied.
Slow cooked goat croquettes - with ouzo mayonnaise
The goat croquettes had a pulled, soft interior and crunchy crumb coating. I was amused to overhear Blossom describing them as "more sophisticated" than other croquettes she had tried, due to the flat shape. I'm sure that's not the sole reason but that's all I heard. As a non-lamb eater, Jenny liked that they weren't too gamey in flavour.
Greek meatballs - with risoni, braised tomato and feta
The meatballs were a big hit at our table with people scooping serves of risoni and sauce long after the meatballs had run out. This is the kind of comfort dish that would be perfect for wintering and watching TV.
Crab moussaka - with tomato essence
I personally enjoyed the crab moussaka the most. It was an awkward shape for sharing and I suspect I might have taken significantly more than one-seventh of the whole. It was so delicious though, so outwardly I'm ashamed at my greed but inwardly I have no regrets.
Flash fried calamari - with white bait and mussel aioli
The calamari was wonderfully light and crisp. I like that Atalanta wasn't heavy-handed with the batter. I remarked on the night that the dipping sauce had a mussel flavour and was delighted to read afterwards from the menu that it was actually supposed to be mussel flavoured. It's unusual for such a specific flavour to be easily detectable that you can identify the taste without knowing it's there.
Charcoal chicken skewer - with golden fried liver and hearts and herb mayo
I was already feeling quite full by the time the mains came but I squeezed in my belly and forced some extra room. For mains, we kept it simple with some grilled chicken and grilled mixed meat skewers, a side of lemon potatoes and honey carrots.
Charcoal mixed meat skewer - with olive caper salsa and tzatziki
Of the proteins, I preferred the pork belly I sampled from the mixed meat plate. The chicken was a little dry but luckily it was served with creamy sauce. As an added interest, the plate of chicken also came with some crumbed, deep fried hearts and liver. That might put some people off but I thought it was a fun touch.
Lemon potato - with lemon, soft feta, oregano and parsley
The potatoes were more lemony than I expected but I really liked them. I'm curious about making potatoes the same way at home.
Roasted heirloom carrots - with soft feta and coffee bean shortbread crumble
Perhaps the most interesting item from our second course was the carrots. They were served with feta, sweet potato and a coffee crumb. It sounds odd but it worked surprisingly well.
I was full to the point of falling into food coma by this point but there was one more thing I really wanted to try from Atalanta. As I get older, I have less and less of a sweet tooth but there's still the odd dessert that I can't say no to. Baklava is one such treat. Having tried amazing versions in Greece and Turkey, I have an almost sentimental attachment to baklava. Atalanta offered a tasting plate of 3 types of baklava and the group was keen to give this a try.
We ordered two serves of the menu option, which ended up being more than we could handle. The baklava is served as small cubes, with two of each flavour per serve. I was curious about the different flavours but couldn't not wait for someone to cut a cube up for me so I just ate it whole. I'm not sure what flavour I had but from the reports of others at our table who did compare, there wasn't too much variation between the different flavours.
The food at Atalanta was flavoursome, tasty and well-portioned. We all walked out burstingly full and at under $50pp including multiple drinks, it was very affordable for such a nice location. My only criticism is that the place is too loud for proper conversations but that is more a reflection of my old age and poor hearing than anything else.