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April 20, 2021

Meraki Bistro – Chef Dino Georgakopoulas

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Chef Dino Georgakopoulas on the right  with his wing man ‘Ilias the Greek’
Chef Dino Georgakopoulas on the right with his wing man ‘Ilias the Greek’

Andrea Herraman

The Greek diet is traditional Mediterranean eating based around simple, fresh, flavoursome ingredients resulting in a tasty healthy cuisine. Throw in sweeping views, easy parking and the occasional plate-throwing event and Meraki at the Ocean Shores Country Club is a winning combination.

Dino and Kate Georgakopoulas have revamped their restaurant with a new menu and decor providing a modern twist on an ancient cuisine.

Dino’s parents were the first game purveyors in Melbourne’s Victoria Markets at the famed Chicken Pantry. With his mother coming from the tiniest island in the Dodecanese, Kastellorizo, just 2km off the coast of Turkey, and his heritage of cooking over the charcoal spit, he was driven by a passion to cook. He began his working life with a degree in Mechanical Engineering that somehow transpired to a mobile catering company called the Groovy Souvi!

Once Dino’s parents retired to the tropical north coast, he and Kate followed and took over the kitchen at the golf club seven years ago. With it’s growing success and their growing confidence it was time to embrace their dream of having a Greek restaurant. And what better place to have it than their existing premises with it’s established clientele and fabulous location – a place where they feel comfortable and part of the community.

However, the change from established standard club food to something different was quite a shift. Not only has it introduced a new style of eating to the local offerings but it has personal significance to Dino.

‘Heritage,’ he says. ‘This is the main reason we changed the restaurant to have a major Greek influence. I think it is really important that people keep their heritage alive and I want my children to embrace it.’

Kate and Dino chose their restaurant’s new name to reflect their beliefs about their work: Love what you do. Meraki is a Greek word meaning to put your love, soul and passion into your work.

They describe their menu as having a Greek and Mediterranean influence while keeping some of the popular choices like steak and pizzas. Dino has not forgotten his Groovy Souvi days and souvlakis are among their most popular choices with the familiar grilled meats and YiaYias (Granny’s) special recipe of revithopites (spicy chick pea).

Mezzethaki (appetisers) include wild Mediterranean olives, saganaki made of Greek sheeps milk cheese, pork and fennel sausage and home made dolmades. Among their mains Kate says the slow-cooked lamb shoulder, with char-grilled vegetable salad, fried Greek lemon potatoes, beetroot jus and tzatziki is probably their most popular dish while her personal favourite is;  ‘a very crackled pork belly… yummy, stuffed with cracked coriander, oregano and semi dried tomatoes, served with sautéed garlic green beans, fried Greek potatoes and salsa verde.’

Dino says he can cater to many dietary needs. ‘My wife and daughter both have dairy and gluten intolerances so we have many options including vegetarian.’

Specialty cheeses are imported for the saganaki and spanakopita which blend deliciously with local fresh produce including Salumi smallgoods and olive oil from Queensland.

With one restaurant wall filled with a mural of sun-drenched balconies of a whitewashed and colourful Santorini, its new modern decor and beautiful location Meraki is a delight.

While the changes are big, diners are certainly happy about the new style. According to Kate, ‘Our regulars love the change. People here seem to really embrace different cultures.’

‘They also come here because they get great quality food without the price tag.

‘The next big event is our Greek Feast on 10 May: Music, dancing, and plate smashing. It will be loads of fun.’

Meraki is licensed and open 7 days for lunch and dinner at the Ocean Shores Country Club, Orana Rd, Ocean Shores.

www.merakicatering.com

6680 1809.

 


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