Soak up Santorini vibes at Eagle Street’s Greek Islands-inspired arrival Opa Bar + Mezze
Though its opening night wasn’t punctuated by the sound of crashing crockery, the launch of Opa Bar + Mezze at Eagle Street Pier is certainly worth the enthusiastic smashing of a plate or two. The newest restaurant from the crew behind Rico Bar & Dining and Fatcow Steak & Lobster unveiled its riverside digs last Thursday April 22, simultaneously showing off its lengthy menu of mouth-watering Greek eats. If the sound of ouzo-soaked saganaki, flash-fried calamari, moussaka drenched in béchamel, airy taramasalata and lamb souvla fresh from the spit rouses some Hellenic spirit within, we suggest getting acquainted with Opa Bar + Mezze’s offering. Just go easy on the tableware …
If Michael Tassis is playing hospitality Bingo, he must be very close to having a winning card by now. The restaurateur’s presence on Eagle Street has proliferated in recent years, with his portfolio rapidly expanding to encompass seafood (George’s Paragon), Italian (Massimo Restaurant & Bar), Latin cuisine (Rico Bar & Dining), steak (Fatcow Steak & Lobster) and now, with his new eatery Opa Bar + Mezze, Greek. Barring perhaps George’s Paragon, the fetching newcomer, which opened at the base of Riverside Centre (the former home of Jellyfish) last Thursday April 22, might be the most guileless expression of Michael’s roots. With Opa he’s looking to his own Greek heritage, drawing upon a wealth of experiences to evoke the singular ecstatic zest that permeates Greece’s culinary culture. To do this, Michael has sought to set the perfect scene, recruiting regular collaborators Clui Design and Tonic Projects to transform the Jellyfish space (which boasts arguably the best position along the riverside strip) into an alluring Mediterranean oasis that takes cues from the coastal towns of the Greek Islands. The restaurant’s aesthetic palette pays homage to the clifftop calderas of Santorini, from the sculptural whitewashed walls to the stone flooring, while splashes of sky blue, pastel pink and vivid greenery accentuate the fetching foundation. Offering flexibility in its service model, Opa’s floor-plan is divided into two distinct sections – a casual bar space features cushy curved couches, a cluster of high-tops near the bar (perfect for those seeking easygoing eats), while the main dining area boasts a host of spacious booths and terrazzo-topped tables ideally suited for the full epicurean experience.
Overseeing and executing Opa’s menu is husband-and-wife duo Vangjel and Diana Jorgo (formerly of The Greek Club), who have curated a menu of Greek dishes that encompass both traditional and contemporary recipes. Though extensive on paper, the menu is purposefully geared towards malleability and variety, affording diners the opportunity to assemble their dream feast from psomi (breads), salata (salad), 21 kinds of mezze, assorted seafood, large plates, share plates and sides. On one visit, guests might be inclined to share plates of sheftalia (Cypriot sausages with tomato and red onion), grilled lamb ribs with a sprinkling of grilled oregano and a dollop of tyrokafteri, grilled htapodi (octopus), kritharaki (spanner crab) stuffed with garlic and orzo pasta, and lahanodolmades (pork and veal wrapped in cabbage leaves). Another night, your eyes might be drawn towards freshly shucked oysters from the live oyster bar or a helping of soutzoukakia (raw tenderloin tartare with quail egg) before tucking into generous helpings of hearty stifatho (slow-cooked beef), flaky spanakopita, succulent whole lamb shoulders and fillets of Patagonian tooth fish – and we’ve barely scratched the surface of what’s available. Opa’s lavish food menu is matched in scale and extravagance by the beverage list, which features corking classic and signature cocktails (the latter is named after the pantheon of Greek gods), beers (including Greek brews Mythos, Keo Lager and Alpha, plus Opa’s own lager and pale ale), wines and spirits. The impressive wine selection is made easy to navigate thanks to some handy categories (champagne and sparkling, crisp and mineral, spicy and fruit driven, and robust and structured, for example), but keen-eyed oenophiles will no doubt spy some intriguing Greek varieties in the mix.
Opa Bar + Mezze is now open to the public. Head to the Stumble Guide for links to the menu, contact details and booking information.
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