Lamb Cutlets with Moussaka

Confession No 30: I miss my Greek Taverna

In every town and city that we’ve lived in there’s been a favourite restaurant. And whilst they’ve all been completely different, there’s always been a certain something about them; let’s call it character. They’re not the most expensive or the most exclusive. You don’t see celebrities dining with their entourage. They aren’t in the styliest streets. And they don’t have celebrity chefs cooking dishes that I can’t pronounce.

Our favourite restaurants are usually small and cosy, sometimes a little dingy, completely casual, cheap (or should I say good value) and the staff is usually friendly, but not always… Yep, character is a must. Oh and outstanding food, which is what keeps us coming back.

Before we were married it was a Chinese restaurant in Canberra with a painting of the Great Wall across one entire wall. Then it was a Turkish restaurant in Palmerston North NZ with a large map of the Ottoman Empire. To be followed by a small Thai restaurant in Auckland with tables outside on the busy street – noise was sometimes a factor. And on we went.

When we came back to Australia to live, we chose Melbourne and in particular the suburb of Richmond. We went in search of a good place to eat and stumbled across this little Greek taverna. Small and dark with exposed brick work and large chalk board menus on the walls, this restaurant had all the makings of a new favourite.

We were shown to a small table by the kitchen by a particularly unfriendly guy. As it turns out he’s not unfriendly, that’s just how he is – organised, confident, straight-forward with no fluff or air of servitude and perhaps a little bit scary. The menu was pure comfort, rustic Greek food that you would expect to see on Nona’s table – grilled calamari, Greek salads, taramosalata with warm pita bread, mousaka, souvlaki, keftedes and more. I was in heaven.

Until I had to go to the loo. Which was outside. Down a rickety set of stairs (did I mention my penchant for crazy high heels?). Along a sloping pathway with an outside basin (although the loos were behind closed doors which was a relief).

Anyway, as time went on I got used to the outside loo and learned to wear lower heels when I ate there. Our unfriendly guy ended up being one of the most skilled restaurant managers I’ve seen. He remembered everyone, where they sat and what they had each time they ate there. He would always try to get his regulars in but made no apology if he couldn’t – that was our fault for not planning better….

About a year ago we moved from Richmond to a leafier, greener suburb with more space, bigger kitchen, a room each for the girls ….you know the drill. But I miss my Greek Taverna. So in honour of my last favourite restaurant I came up with my own version of moussaka. It’s deconstructed so you can cook it quickly – well that and The Husband loves a lamb cutlet or five! But all the classic flavours are there – eggplant, potato, lamb, spicy tomato sauce….

I could have put this recipe in any number of moods but I’ve decided on Ravenous Wrath because you can make it in under 30 minutes without breaking a sweat. It’s a gorgeous, lower fat moussaka that you’ll make time and again.

Do you have a favourite restaurant? What’s your favourite on their menu?

Lamb Cutlets with Moussaka


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