Newstead’s brand-new Greek eatery Santorini Restaurant Grill Bar is a family affair. George Papaioannou’s yia-yia hailed from Santorini, and it’s his memories of trips to Greece and his familial roots that fuel his new restaurant’s direction. Building upon a 40-year hospitality career that spans cafes, delis and his own wholesale wine business, George is now turning his focus towards educating Brisbane locals on Greek cuisine and viticulture via a multifaceted offering. Nestled on Kyabara Street in a split tenancy formerly home to Gianni’s Kitchen and Florentine Italian Grill and Wine Room, Santorini takes design cues from the famous Aegean isle from which it takes its name. One half of the space is dedicated to the 80-seat restaurant, which boasts an aesthetic reminiscent of the island’s white-washed side streets and blue skies. Images of Santorini’s iconic houses, coastline and ovation-worthy sunsets take pride of place on the restaurant’s feature walls, though the minimal colour palette helps direct attention to what’s on the plate. Next door sits a 30-seat grill and wine store – here guests can swing through for express eats like pita yiros, skewers and pastries or peruse a finely curated array of Greek wines.
When it comes to the menu itself, George wanted to create an experience that was truly and unadulteratedly Greek. To do this, he recruited chef Kostas Kemanetzis to craft a menu that embodied the best elements of the cuisine – home-style dishes that channel memories, warmth and authenticity. Given carte blanche to build the menu as he saw fit, Kostas has formulated an extensive menu based on family recipes. The full offering (which is available on both sides of the venue) traverses orektika (appetisers such as zucchini chips, dolmadakia, kefalograviera saganaki and spicy bougiourdi), dips (Santorini-style fava dip, melitzanosalata and tzatziki), salads, tis oras (grilled-to-order souvlaki, meatballs and lamb cutlets), magerefta (baked dishes like stuffed peppers, stifado and moussaka), thalassina (seafood eats including stuffed calamari, steamed mussels and prawns), Santorini specials (six-hour slow-cooked lamb, prawn pasta and orzo rice with seafood) and glyka (desserts like honey puffs, baklava and galaktobouriko). While any combination of the above will leave diners in a state of glassy-eyed contentment, the Santorini experience isn’t truly complete without a glass (or two) of wine. George is one of Australia’s most reputable importers of Mediterranean wines and Santorini’s wine list (which boasts 70 Greek labels and 30 Australian drops) showcases his curatorial nous. The selection boasts light and aromatic whites from Aigio and Evia, medium bodied and textural whites from Crete, rosé from Santorini, and full-bodied reds from Peloponnese, to name a few. The wine list is bolstered by a host of classic and signature cocktails (the Santorini Sunset and Aegean Spritz are particularly tempting tipples), Greek beers and spirits.
Santorini Restaurant Grill Bar is now open to the public. For opening hours, contact details and booking info, head to the Stumble Guide.