Food and Drink
Posted by Dan Kuseta
15. Nov, 2010
With it’s high ceilings, natural light, cute courtyard and sizzling food on the grill, Gypsy Hideout is pretty hard not to like. Boasting an adventurous menu incorporating elements of Spanish, Italian and Greek cuisine. the Hideout’s chalkboard reads like a Mediterranean tasting tour.
Opened two months ago by the affable Freddie Raftellis, who was inspired by his travels through Europe and his native Greece, Gypsy Hideout is based on those European hole-in-the-wall cafes that serve up tasty, fresh food with little fanfare. Freddie, a trained chef, is helped out in the kitchen by an aunt visiting from Greece, who’s teaching him the family recipes and techniques passed down over generations. He also has an uncle pop in from time to time to make Stifado, a traditional Greek stew. Freddie tells us his uncle refuses to tell anyone the recipe and insists on cooking it himself. All this is good news for the cafe’s customers, who are rewarded with a rotating menu of freshly cooked, home-style meals.
We’re too late for breakfast, though the poached eggs with citrus cream cheese, kaffir lime leaves, chili, red onion and coriander ($11) sounds like a corker. Thankfully the lunch menu is equally compelling, promising meatballs wrapped with baby spinach, served in roti with labneh ($9.50), yemista, truss tomatoes stuffed with rice and herbs ($9.50) and jaffles stuffed with things I find hard to say no to like jamon, double-smoked ham and kefalograviera (a hard sheep’s cheese).
Spoiled for choice I opt for the Gypsy Plate ($16.50), a sort of Mediterranean Ploughman’s lunch. I get meatballs, two slices of sourdough, a bowl of Kalamata olives, feta drizzled with olive oil, a yemista and a spoonful of baba ganoush. Not cheap, but not bad value either.
The meatballs carry a hint of cinnamon, making them lighter than you might expect. Topped with some home-made relish they’re a delight. Spreading the baba ganoush over the sourdough and crumbling with feta turns out to be a good idea. The feta is smooth; more subtle than sharp, the baba has hints of lemon and when whacked on the bread the whole thing tastes, well, fresh. Chased with a kalamata olive I’m quickly getting into the swing of this mix and match meal.
The yemista is impressively plump and stuffed to gills with rice and herbs. The traditional recipe calls for a minced meat stuffing, but the vegan-friendly filling works a treat with the smoky flavors of the roast tomato.
Gypsy Hideout’s a welcome addition to the ever bustling Westgarth strip. And with a liquor license coming soon, their courtyard might just become a favorite this summer.
68 High St, Northcote
Mon – Closed
Tues – Thurs 7.30 – 4
Fri 7.30 – 5
Sat 8 – 5
Sun 8 – 4
Come and toast the new book Borsch, Vodka and Tears: Food to Drink With at its launch at Bar 303.