New restaurant Atalanta Bar and Greek combines the talents of restaurateur Harun Gencerler, chef Dean Brewer and businessman Simon Bou-Samra to create a Greek odyssey in their riverside location at Portside at Hamilton. Gencerler is no stranger to the Brisbane food scene. Already operating Next Door Kitchen and Bar, Ahmet’s Turkish Restaurant and South Side Diner, he is well versed in the business of restaurants. Brewer has worked with the Gencerler Group for the past three years and has come across the river to head up the new kitchen. Bou-Samra, less known for his food experience, is making a career change from hairdressing. It was a haircut at Bou’s Portside barbershop that proved to be the catalyst for Atalanta. Gencerler was in the area looking at opening a restaurant, and the decision was made to open the venue together, as the friends chatted over a haircut. Gencerler had long been interested in opening a Greek restaurant. Although he himself is Turkish, the particular part of Turkey that he calls home has long enjoyed the influence of Greek food; he has grown up knowing the flavours and dishes. Having noted the huge investment in property and infrastructure at Portside, he was keen to join in the action and offer a quality restaurant and bar. The name Atalanta comes from the Greek goddess of the hunt, so it comes as no surprise that the menu offers up an irresistible range of dishes listed under ‘The Hunted’ plus large, slow cooked meat dishes for two under the heading, ‘Feast for Two’. However, do not dismiss this as pure carnivorous indulgence; the dishes are authentic, sometimes innovative and utterly delicious.
Slow cooked lamb is served with hummus and olives, pork belly with braised fennel and white anchovies, while the flank steak is served with sea urchin butter. Seafood decadence is best summed up in Neptune’s Grill — a succulent offering of barbecued market fish and seafood, served with smoked mash. Vegetable dishes and sides are offered in ‘The Gathered’, featuring classic dishes ranging from tomato with feta, olives and capers, to more exotic smashed chickpeas with bonito flakes and a cooling watermelon salad. Being Greek, it goes without saying that Atalanta also serves up an absolute cracking menu of mezze dishes. More than 12 dishes will please all parties —from slow cooked goat croquettes to ouzo cured ocean trout and warm pita to mop up traditional hummus and every last drop and morsel. The design of the restaurant creates a sophisticated, relaxed atmosphere –perfect for people who take their food seriously without suffering the formality of fine dining. The interior focuses on raw materials and elements – copper, stone, timber – reflecting the earthiness of the kitchen philosophy, where fresh, local ingredients are the real heroes. The name Atalanta means ‘unswaying’ and we can only hope this means the restaurant itself will not fall prey to passing trends, keeping the benchmark firmly in place for other restaurants in the area.
Words by Alice Thompson | Images by Judit Losh and Social images supplied by Atlanta