8 August 2022

Five minutes with Tim Moustakas, Fillos Taverna and Bar

| Evelyn Karatzas
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Tim Moustakas and his parents

Tim Moustakas, owner of Fillos Taverna and Bar, and his parents. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

Who is Tim Moustakas: I’m the owner of Fillos Taverna and Bar at the Hellenic Club in Woden.

Best dining experience: Even though I don’t really get the chance to go out to eat as I’m always working, I would probably say my best dining experience was at Rubicon in Griffith. My family and I always have a good experience there, they have beautiful food and we’ve celebrated a couple of special birthdays there too.

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Favourite cuisine: I think I’d have to say the Greek cuisine, but not just because I’m Greek. I have grown up eating good, clean Greek food all my life, so I really love eating and cooking fresh seafood and lamb – the flavours are just beautiful!

Most embarrassing fridge or pantry item: I’d probably say pickles! My boys love their cucumbers, but they don’t like them pickled, so they just sit there and never get eaten.

Crème brûlée with Poached pear and Dark Chocolate Sorbet

Crème brûlée with Poached pear and Dark Chocolate Sorbet at Pomegranate Restaurant. Photo: Pomegranate Restaurant.

What ingredient can I not live without: I would have to say lemon. I just love the sour taste! You can put it on everything like fish, calamari, lamb, steak and it complements every dish nicely.

Next big thing in the Canberra food scene: I think the next big thing that’s coming to the Canberra food scene is going to be the new Hellenic precinct here at the Hellenic Club.

When that extension is completed, I’m planning on introducing a new authentic Greek tavern that will be something that Canberra has never seen, so it’s very exciting for me! I think this extension will be out of this world and the precinct will be a hub for everybody in Canberra with plenty of eateries and entertaining spaces like a cinema, bowling alley and arcade games on offer.

Hyatt Hotel Canberra

Tim says the Hyatt Hotel Canberra is his favourite lunch spot in the Capital. Photo: Hyatt.

Favourite place for lunch in the ACT: I don’t really go out for lunch much, but if I get the chance, I go with the family to the Hyatt Hotel. It’s got a really nice and relaxed atmosphere which I love, and I always have a great time there. Usually, when my boys aren’t training or playing football, we’ll go there and enjoy some burgers or club sandwiches, and they make great food.

My go-to coffee spot in Canberra: I think my go-to coffee spot in Canberra would be Caphs in Manuka. I’m good friends with the owner, Manny, and he always comes and supports me and my business, and so I support him too.

Man with coffee

Manny from Caphs has been a long-time supporter of Tim. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

My favourite coffee: As of late, I’ve been off drinking coffee, so my go-to hot drink at the moment is chamomile tea with honey.

A must-try on the menu at Fillos: Definitely our lamb shoulders – it’s the best dish in the house. People always come back with positive feedback for it, and it’s our signature dish.

I would also say our beautiful fresh fish. My dad, who also works with me, is a bit of a perfectionist, so he’ll go and see it with his own eyes and handpick it to make sure we get the best quality seafood to cook in the restaurant.

Biggest culinary influence: My dad is definitely my biggest culinary influence. We’ve always been in the kitchen together and even though I’m the boss of the restaurant, he’s still my boss.

Ever since I was young, he’s been my idol as he always does everything he can to help me and help me perfect my skills and he is very hard working. One of the most important things he taught me was, “If you don’t want to eat it, don’t serve it”, and that’s something I’ve always kept in mind.

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Favourite cookbook: As my dad has been in kitchens for 50 years, I don’t use cookbooks. He is my cookbook. He has been my biggest influence and I’ve worked off him rather than looking at recipes or cookbooks. He knows how to make good food, keep it authentic and keep the customers happy. The proof is in the restaurant because of how popular it is and how many people keep coming back.

What business do I admire in the Canberra food and wine scene: I’d probably say Pomegranate Restaurant in Kingston. Every time I’ve gone there, I’ve had a positive experience. Something I really admire is their customer service and also their wine list!

Being in the hospitality industry, I’ve learnt that you’ve got to make your customers happy, be personal with them and look after them. If you love what you do for work, it’s not a job, and it makes me happy to be able to build those good connections with customers and please people, and make sure they always have positive experiences when they come and dine in the restaurant.

Cooked whiting on a plate

The King George Whiting fish at Fillos. Photo: Fillos Taverna and Bar.

What is one of the specials of the week at Fillos? At the moment, we are doing a fish of the week special. We have our garfish as it is in season, and last week we had our King George Whiting fish. Our snapper is probably our most popular, though.

Where am I travelling to next: Mid-next year, while renovations will begin for the Hellenic precinct, we have promised our boys we’d take them to Europe, and we’d go to Greece.

I haven’t been to Greece since I was eight years old because my parents were always busy working and so we couldn’t go, so I really want to spoil my kids and take them if I get the chance. I also want to go overseas and get some inspiration and see things to help me when I open the re-imagined Fillos Taverna in the new precinct.


Come and try the lamb, pork and chicken souvlakia (skewers) at Fillos. Photo: Fillos Taverna and Bar.

Death row meal: Definitely anything with lamb! There’s nothing better than lamb souvlaki with pita bread, lamb, lemon and tzatziki! I also love ‘kokinisto’, a traditional Greek lamb stew with a red, tomato and wine-based sauce.

My least favourite food: I’d probably say ‘fakes’, which is a traditional Greek lentil soup, it’s just too healthy for me!

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COVID-19 response: With COVID-19, I think everyone had no choice but to adapt to the changes and closures of businesses. When we were closed, I was doing live streams on Facebook with me cooking, and I remember being worried that I was going to lose everything and I couldn’t sleep at night.

I then had to think outside of the box. I came up with the idea of doing takeaway meals, which were a huge success. It was a very testing time, but I guess we all just had to have faith that we’d make it through. I introduced $15 takeaway meals during lockdown and had continuous support throughout the whole lockdown from the community, which was really great.

For Mother’s Day alone, I remember I did 170 platters at $120 each, and even though I didn’t make a lot of money, I was able to help and support the community, and in return, they supported me, and I think in those times, we just needed to support our local businesses and get through it together.

My three recipe tips:

  1. Always cook with love.
  2. Be authentic.
  3. Use fresh ingredients.

Fillos Taverna and Bar is open seven days a week from 12 to 2 pm for lunch, and from 6 to 9 pm for dinner. It is located on Matilda Street, Phillip, inside the Hellenic Club of Canberra.

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