The first thing you should know about the Plaka is that it is in Dickson. Not in Manuka, which is where one of our ladies took herself instead. While we’re on the subject on geography, the Plaka used to be in Mawson for many years, disappearing for a few years before its recent re-appearance in Dickson. With fond memories of the Mawson years, the Ladies were keen to try the Plaka 2.0.
Known for its friendly service and bountiful plates of Mediterranean-style food, the Plaka has stuck to the same formula. The restaurant itself is a big L-shape, furnished in simple contemporary style, mostly white. The thing about L-shaped restaurants, as any one who has ever done time waiting tables will tell you, is that most of the tables end up being out of the direct line of sight of the wait-staff which can make for a challenging time. The friendly staff at the Plaka dealt with this well, there were regular walk-bys of wait staff and except for the end of the evening when we had to ask for our bill, we didn’t feel neglected.
The menu at the Plaka focuses mainly on meat and seafood, with a good number of choices including some old favorites the ladies remembered from the <cough> 1980’s. We began with a selection of mixed bread, which were flat, hot and delicious. The pick was the one topped with creamy feta. We covered the seafood side with entrée choices of an impressive half-dozen oysters Kilpatrick, and a peppery salt and pepper calamari.
The oysters were plump and delicious, cooked to perfection with just the right amount of Worcestershire sauce and crispy bacon. Our other entrees tested the Mediterranean choices with a perfectly flaky and buttery spanikopita and the classic zucchini fritters. These were disappointing, not quite burnt but certainly much darker than they should have been. A creamy and zingy tzatziki served alongside them was the saving grace. Each of these entrees was on the large side, but who complains about that?
Main courses were similarly large, and embarrassingly, only one of our ladies was able to finish. We had two lamb souvlakis, which were served with a good Greek salad with lots of feta and olives, some flatbread and chips – good chips, too. There were two big skewers of lamb in each souvlaki, one serve of which was perfectly pink and the other just a little bit over cooked but still tasty. With more of that tzatziki to accompany them, both of our lamb-loving ladies were satisfied. A third main course was the more unusual seafood souvlaki, a fat and luscious looking skewer of fish, prawns, scallops, capsicum and onion. It was beautifully cooked and served with vegetables. A classic surf and turf was our final main course selection. This veal dish was topped with three large succulent prawns in a creamy sauce. The veal was served with zucchini and carrots in a zingy tomato sauce and some fat chips which soaked up all the flavors. The dish was hearty and delicious.
There is no dessert menu at the Plaka, but the wait staff will offer you a selection based on what the chefs have prepared that day. For us this was a choice of baklavla, tiramisu and galatoboureko – described to us as a Greek vanilla slice. Perhaps it was because we were full from the first two courses that we found this uninspiring and talk turned briefly to the Cold Rock ice-creamery down the street. Nonetheless, for fullness of research we pushed on and ordered one tiramisu with some tea and coffee. Like our other courses, this was a generous wedge of tiramisu served alongside a hefty scoop of ice cream and drizzled liberally with chocolate syrup. We like our tiramisu, and this one was all creamy, coffee deliciousness without being too heavy.
We had a good night at the Plaka, though were surprised it was barely half-full on a Thursday night. The investigative trip to the ladies found a simple – and clean – space. The staff were, as we said, very friendly, but we felt things were a little disorganised – with some of the entrees and meals arriving well before others. Minor teething troubles in a new establishment, we expect. The food was tasty, no doubt, but if you’re after a more sophisticated dining experience this may not be the place. This is hearty, simpler stuff. Our meal cost us $65 a head (including wine), which is at the higher end for a less-pretentious restaurant, which the Plaka most certainly is.
The Plaka is on Woolley Street Dickson.