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Hellenika Brisbane

There are certain Gold Coast venues that one can never get enough of. One of which, quite obviously, is Hellenika in Nobby Beach. In fact, if we could just move in and consume Saganaki every day, for the rest of time that would be ideal.

Now that’s sorted, here’s some really great news. There are even more opportunities to enjoy the exceptional eats and abundant good vibes you’ve come to know and love at Hellenika because (how’s the build up) their Brisbane venue is opening this week and Hallelujah.

That’s right Greek food lovers; you may now travel a very short distance, as opposed to all the way to the Gold Coast, to get your Hellenika fill and that is something to celebrate.

The brand new venue can be found inside The Calile Hotel, also brand new and probably your new favourite place on the planet. Owner of Hellenika, Simon Gloftis, says The Calile and Hellenika Brisbane are an absolute match made in heaven and, in our opinion, absolute interior goals the both of them.

The restaurant’s interior, set to be completely different to the Gold Coast, will be all marble and white stone surfaces with vaulted ceilings and skylights and quite the classic beauty. The fitout is a pared back version of a resort-style classic and we are really quite excited.

Now to the food. The menu will be very similar to the Coast’s (including all your faves – Taramasalata Dip, Zucchini Chips and Junee Lamb to name a few) but, with the addition of breakfast, there’ll be a few new dishes for you to fall in love with.

The morning menu will be filled with Greek-inspired breakfast treats like Rizgalo, a rice pudding that’ll be Hellenika’s take on porridge, Bougatsa, a custard-filled filo pastry dish (love you already) and The Onassis, a big breakfast option featuring a lamb cutlet (of course) among other tasty treats.

Oh and there’ll also be a Brûlée Grapefruit dish and a magical dish featuring Greek yoghurt, seasonal berries, crushed macadamias and Manuka honey.

We’ll take one of everything please.

Excitingly, if you opt to stay at The Calile Hotel you may eat said delicious dishes by the pool, celebrity-style.

Also excitingly, Simon has coaxed Hellenika’s original Head Chef and Restaurant Manager, Brian and Tessa Kelly, back from London to oversee the Brisbane venue so you know you’re in excellent hands.

Hellenika Brisbane has been a dream four years in the making so happy days for Simon and the team and us, the good people of southern Queensland who get to eat even more epic Greek food on the daily. 

Friday cannot come soon enough.

LOCATION: The Calile Hotel, 48 James Street, Fortitude Valley

Words and photos by Kirra Smith

Hellenika sneak peek

Those of you who love Hellenika as much as we do will understand that it feels like it’s been years since Simon and the crew shut up shop to perch an extra level on top of the already incredible space.

Well, food-loving friends, we’re (way too) pleased to report that the newly renovated downstairs restaurant is once again open for business.

Last week we reported Simon had revamped the space he previously referred to as a Melbourne-esque taverna into a slightly more elegant Estiatorio (a restaurant you’d find in Greece).

And friends, we cannot emphasise this point enough, elegance is everywhere at the new look Hellenika even down to the blush pink crockery made by local potter Marloe Marloe.

Without a doubt everyone’s favourite area will be the tucked away corner featuring a painting of Aristotle Onassis – a Greek businessman much-loved in his passionate homeland. He’s akin to JFK in the States, and you know, Mick Fanning here in good old Oz.

The menu, while remaining largely the same features a few new dishes Simon is particularly excited about. The first is Corfu Bianco, a South Australian Kingfish baked in the oven with olive oil and lemon juice, simple and absolutely beautiful.

The second is a barrel-ripened feta imported from Greece and drizzled with olive oil and oregano and the third, Hilopites – beef shin with square pasta and tomato. We’ll take all three please.

As mentioned last week, the wine list has increased from 110 to 500 bottles with 50 brought in from Greece alone.

And you thought Hellenika went above and beyond before.

P.S We got also got a sneak peek at the rooftop bar and, in a word, it’s EPIC.

LOCATION: 2235 Gold Coast Hwy, Nobby Beach
HOURS: 5pm to 11.30pm Monday to Saturday and 12pm to 4pm / 5pm to 11.30pm Sunday

Words and photos by Kirra Smith.

Bar Hellenika

One of your favourites has come through with the goods again, this time in the form of a sleek, breezy rooftop bar that brings all your European summer holiday dreams to life.

Bar Hellenika is the long-awaited venue perched on top of the Nobby’s institution of the same name (but without the bar part). It’s a fresh, colour-filled space decked out with an abundance of white, grey tiled floors, a marble bar perched right in the middle and yellow umbrellas to give it a very laze-by-the-beach-with-mimosa-in-hand kind of vibe.

Bright, eye-catching art adorns the walls depicting well-known Greek folk and a HUGE wine cellar boasts hundreds of bottles that we will certainly enjoy sipping over the next few years. Maybe months, depending on how 2018 pans out.

A big old olive tree takes pride of place in the front reminding us all how very lucky we are that olives are a thing and that we can now eat as many as we like while gazing out over Nobby’s at our new fave spot.

So, the rooftop bar part. Quite obviously the idea is to be roofless but as we all know, the Gold Coast is going through a (quite annoying) wet season right now. But, because he’s a man of the people, owner Simon Gloftis has that sorted. The roof is retractable and it’s quite the sight to behold so, no matter the weather, you can enjoy a tasty tipple in a semi-outdoor space without a care in the world.

Not only can you drink up there though, you can eat and hooray for that because everybody knows Hellenika’s food is the goods.

The menu, known as a mezze menu, is a share plate style scenario filled with delicious eats along the lines of Tiganito Kalamari (flash fried calamari), Gavros (cured white anchovies) and Arni Sti Schara (grilled lamb ribs) to name a few.

Wash those down with an Ari Onassis made up of Tanqueray gin, elderflower, lemon and cucumber (among other things) or a Pimms Cup and your life may just be complete.

As you’d expect from the man with a slew of the Coast’s best restaurants under his belt, Bar Hellenika is a beautiful space oozing good vibes and promising plenty of fun times. It’s casual chic (sans thongs and singlets thank you) at it’s very best and the perfect spot to spend some time with your crew sipping tipples and thinking yourself lucky you live in this increasingly epic city.

You’ll be seeing us there A LOT.

LOCATION: 2235 Gold Coast Hwy, Nobby Beach
HOURS: 5pm until midnight every day throughout the Commonwealth Games and 5pm until midnight Wednesday to Sunday after that.

Words and photos by Kirra Smith.

Simon Gloftis

We’re going to call it, Simon Gloftis is the man who started the foodie revolution on the Gold Coast. Starting with Little Beans, then now-iconic Greek eatery Hellenika and finally The Fish House, the restaurateur has a slew of local firsts under his belt.

His passion for the Gold Coast’s dining scene has seen him become one of the most familiar faces in town and he’s showing no signs of slowing down.

We chat with Simon about Hellenika’s soon to be opened rooftop bar and the game-changing plans he’s got in store for the Coast.

How did your passion for food came about?
I didn’t realise but obviously growing up in a European family, it was ingrained in me when I was a kid. My godfather has one of the most famous Greek restaurants in Melbourne and we used to go there as a family but I wouldn’t sit at the table I’d go and stand at the door of the kitchen and they’d pass me food and I’d take it out. Then I got a job delivering pizza, worked in a few restaurants, then went to pizza maker and floor manager then I went back to the kitchen. I eventually left hospitality and got my real estate license but every night I was going home and instead of studying the real estate course I was looking at cookbooks so I realised what I loved. I had three cafes on the Gold Coast and then from the cafes I opened Hellenika then Fish House.

What is it you love so much about it?
I literally wake up in the morning and start thinking about food, then I eat food and I don’t stop until I go to bed. It’s my life. I don’t travel anywhere other than for food. When I go to Europe I book the restaurants before I go, even if I’m popping down to Sydney I book the restaurants before I book the flights. It’s all I want to do.

How long have you been a Gold Coast local?
I went to Marymount College from year four. I was born in Melbourne then we moved to Brisbane, back to Melbourne then to the Gold Coast.

What do you love most about living here?
I just think there’s an energy here on the Gold Coast that the bigger cities could only dream about. We can actually make an impact with such a small decision. When I opened up Little Beans in Nobby’s it was probably the only real espresso bar on the Coast and people followed it straight away.  We needed these places. In a big city you can make an impact but you get lost. My whole success on the Coast has been because people supported me. They followed me from Three Beans to Little Beans to Piccolo to Hellenika to The Fish House and now back to Hellenika. I’ve got the same customers from back then and some of my staff have worked in all those venues. The Coast has been a massive support for me.

Why are you so passionate about bringing such quality dining venues to the Coast?
Some of it’s a bit selfish, I actually do things I like and then hope enough people like the same thing. I’m a big fan of healthy food, not as in quinoa salad, as in King George Whiting and Greek salad. When you come to one of my restaurants you will get the best produce in Australia, bar none. We’re either equal to, or better than, every other restaurant in the country and that’s my whole motto.                                               

Do you have a personal favourite of all the ones you’ve opened?
Hellenika. I love every one of my venues because they’re all a piece of me but when I walk into Hellenika I feel like it’s home. I eat there five or six nights a week, I’m happy there. I love the nice big wooden tables, the Greek music, the food, and the wine, the feeling. We all say there’s something in the walls at Hellenika, it’s looked after so many people. It feels like it’s been around for 40 years.

What have you got in store for Hellenika?
We renovated the whole building and I put a whole new level on it. Downstairs will be opening next Friday (1st September) and upstairs is probably about eight weeks away. Upstairs will be a bar with a retractable roof. Downstairs has gone from a taverna-style venue. It had that real rustic Melbourne-style Greek restaurant feel. It’s gone away from that now so when you walk in you’re going to feel like you’re in a Greek restaurant in Athens but something that’s modern today. We’ve gone from 110 wines on our list to 500, it’s amazing, there are 50 indigenous wines from Greece alone. We’re taking everything to the next level. We’ve added some new dishes to the menu – kept about 60% of the favourites – but added some really traditional Greek dishes. Things like Corfu Bianco which is my favourite dish, it’s potatoes and Kingfish baked in the oven with olive oil and lemon juice. So simple but so beautiful.

It’s going to be a touch more formal downstairs and then upstairs is a lot more casual. It’ll be all the mezze food, which is tapas in Greek. Things like pork belly, meatballs, zucchini chips, all that lighter stuff. The bar upstairs will be the main focus, we just want people to be able to come and have a light dinner or snack and drinks. We’ll try and be open until midnight every night upstairs so there’s no guessing if we’re open. You can feel comfortable to go at 10 o’clock at night and have a wine.

What are your thoughts on the rapidly growing dining scene of late?
To give you an example, seven years ago I had to explain what share food was. We had to tell people that food comes to the middle of the table and it’s sort of like a Chinese restaurant. Hellenika was also the first one to do double sittings. Now, that’s commonplace. Nine of my ex staff have opened up venues between Broadbeach and Palm Beach, most of your favourites were opened by my ex staff. I’m really proud of what’s happened on the Gold Coast, if I had a small part to do with it, that’s great.

How would you like to see our foodie scene change or grow over the next few years?
We’ve opened up all the venues I think it might be enough now, there’s nearly one restaurant per person. I think there might be a little bit of hardship to come, just because I know how hard it can be. I’m hoping we consolidate a little bit and maybe get more quality into what we’ve already got before we think about expanding too much further. We need all these local restaurants to make sure what they’re doing is the best they can do. I think it’s neglectful to customers if you start giving them things that are making them sick like artificial flavours and enhancers. I’m hoping we improve on what we’ve got before we grow too much more.

What’s happening after the rooftop is up and running?
I sold The Fish House to do an amazing project, which I can’t mention for a few months but that’s the next big one. Hellenika will always be my baby but I’ve got plans for something that will really be game changing. I can’t wait to launch it.

Being a Gold Coast local, we have to ask your favourites…
Beach: Nobby’s
Café: For someone who’s owned cafes, I don’t hang out in cafes. I do pop down to get a smoothie or juice from Smoothie Shack, that’s about the extent of it.
Restaurant: Can I mention a few? For steak, Glenelg Public House, again Aaron used to work with me. For soup I go to New Saigon and get my Pho. For ribs I go to Fire Cue. For sushi I go to Sapporo in Broadbeach, they’re the only ones on the Gold Coast that I know buys the same quality seafood I do (just ask them what their best dish of the day is and go with that). For hot pot I go to Itoshin in Mermaid Beach. My cousin owns The Lamb Shop in Burleigh so I’m always up there. Pinocchio in Mermaid Beach do a really good fennel salad.
Weekend hang: I’m working on weekends but my weekend is during the week. I’m just hanging out in Nobby’s. The boys and I always get together on a Tuesday and have dinner, that’s my thing. My family owns Miami Marketta so I’m there a lot to watch a band and hang out.

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