Souvla and seafood a specialty at Yamas Greek & Drink, West Village’s eye-catching terracotta-hued newcomer
Is it just us, or is half of our Instagram feed in Greece right now? It seems like a whole chunk of Australia is seizing the opportunity to spend winter abroad, but thankfully for those of us still here in Brisbane, a salivation-worthy slice of Greece has made its way to West End. Yamas Greek & Drink, the new eatery from the crew behind Eagle Street’s Opa Bar + Mezze and Massimo Restaurant & Bar, has just opened at West Village, debuting a beautifully designed eatery that’s all about hearty share-style feasting. We took a look around (and at the menu) and we can confirm this restaurant is worth (figuratively) smashing a few plates in celebration.
In the span of almost a month, Michael Tassis closed three restaurants and opened (or reopened) another three. Two of his Eagle Street eateries, Opa Bar + Mezze and Massimo Restaurant & Bar relaunched after flood waters put both out of commission for several months. Further along the waterfront, Rico Bar & Dining, George’s Paragon and Fatcow Steak & Lobster recently shuttered ahead of Eagle Street Pier’s scheduled redevelopment. It’s been a whirlwind month, but as July nears its close Michael and business partner Caio Rosetto are ending things on a high note with the opening of Yamas Greek & Drink – the team’s brand-new Hellenic-inspired hospitality concept opening today, Thursday July 28, at West Village. It’s a big step for Michael and the Tassis Group, which has been firmly entrenched at Eagle Street for years. Though Yamas marks the first time that the team has opened a restaurant beyond the borders of the inner city, crossing the river seems to be a comfortable manoeuvre for Michael, who is relishing the chance to deliver his brand of Greek-inflected hospitality to West End, the home of Brisbane’s largest Greek community.
Michael and Caio describe Yamas as the vivacious younger sibling of Opa, boasting shared DNA in regards to its menu style and form of elevated-yet-approachable service, but with a different visual identity. Where Opa channels the blue-and-white taverna style synonymous with Mediterranean destinations like Santorini and Mykonos, Yamas draws inspiration more from the neoclassical architecture of Thessaloniki – Greece’s second-largest city, which is perched on the edge of the Aegean Sea. Michael and Caio have worked with Clui Design and Bullfrog Commercial to craft and implement an earthy stone and clay aesthetic, which makes great use of terracotta marble, terrazzo concrete and geometric tiling across its elegant 80-seat premises. The restaurant (located at The Eaves next to Italian Street Kitchen) employs an open-plan layout to maximise its proximity to the Mollison Park green space. Sliding doors open and dissolve the barrier between exterior and interior, with a slender footprint boasting strips of curved booths, high and low tables and a special chef’s table perched right in front of the open kitchen.
Like its Brisbane City sibling, Yamas’ menu of Greek eats is partially inspired by Michael’s own family recipes. The restaurant’s elegant setting is charmingly offset by a home-like culinary approach, which favours a share-style format more reminiscent of dinner at yia-yia’s than at a contemporary restaurant. Yamas is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, which means feasting kicks off early with a Greek-style brunch menu. Those that popped into Opa after its reopening may have sampled some of these day starters, as Opa was the testing ground for what is now Yamas’ morning menu, boasting the likes of Greek Eggs (eggs, feta, potatoes, baby tomatoes and pita bread), rizogalo (Greek rice pudding with poached pear) and a breakfast yiros, which sees a warm pita filled with fried eggs, kefalograviera, haloumi chips, lamb, lemon-mustard sauce. As the day progresses, Yamas’ menu shifts to offer a broad array of Greek delicacies, starting with psomi (bread with dips like taramasalata, warm split broad bean mousse and white tyrokafteri) and raw plates like oysters with ouzo, tomato and citrus, Paros-style ocean trout and chilled seafood platters. Like any good Greek eatery, Yamas delivers big on the meze front with grilled saganaki, paidakia (lamb cutlets with red onion and tzatziki), kolokithia me thalasina (stuffed zucchini with market fish, scallops, sand crab and prawn) and htapodi (grilled octopus). While there is a distinct focus on seafood (including whole bay barrmundi with orzo pasta and lobster live from the tank), the Yamas kitchen also utilises an imported Cypriot-style rotisserie to slow cook lamb and chicken for its mouth-watering souvla, a specialty which is delivered to the table in big pots. Yamas’ large plate offering features classics like wagyu beef moussaka, prasopita (leek and cheese filo) and arnu me aginares (a casserole-style dish with lamb, carrots, artichokes and peas). Yamas’ bar is fully stocked with a selection of ouzo, 20 gins, eight vodkas and plenty of liquor for its eye-catching house cocktails. The vino offering is similarly substantial, with a 120-strong wine list boasting upwards of 20 Greek drops.
Yamas Greek & Drink officially opens to the public on Thursday July 28. For menu info, booking details and operating hours, head to the Stumble Guide.
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