Back in 2019 the Big Easy Group (Nola, Anchovy Bandit, Bottega Bandito, Bandit Pizza and Wine, Bowden Brewing, The Stag) turned its short-lived restaurant Charlick’s into Yiasou George, a lively Mediterranean diner best known for its signature woodfired lamb and pillowy pita bread. Now the east end eatery is evolving again with a makeover and a new menu (including an homage to its much-loved lamb).
Come June, Yiasou George will reopen as House of George, spurred by the arrival of new head chef Sav Sexton, who’s come over from steering the kitchen at Good Gilbert. Big Easy Group operations manager Jack Booker says the team wanted the name to better reflect the menu, which will expand the brief beyond Greek cuisine to bring in influences from Turkey, Morocco and Basque Country.
“I guess the name Yiasou George leaned into the Greek theme, and us opening it up wider lets us be a bit more adventurous,” Booker tells Broadsheet.
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Fire will play an even bigger part in the kitchen, which was previously anchored by a wood oven next to the dining room, and will soon include a custom-built open-flame grill and rotisserie to establish more of an open kitchen (most of the cooking was previously done in the Stag kitchen next door).
“There’s a lot of excitement in watching people cook, especially over fire,” says Booker. “It creates unity between front- and back-of-house teams, where guests get to watch all the action unfold.”
As Sexton puts it: “Anticipate a menu driven by seasonality that is licked over the fire and kissed by the Mediterranean.” That means yiros on a stick with crispy chicken skin crumble, and a spin on the Yiasou George lamb done “porchetta-style” – lamb rump stuffed with merguez (North African lamb sausage) and cooked low and slow over charcoal on the new rotisserie. There'll also be Abelsway Farm chicken and seasonal vegetables from K&R Produce.
At Good Gilbert, Sexton was working with the Good Fish project to ensure the use of sustainable, green-listed seafood, and they’ll be doing the same at House of George to turn out dishes such as market fish crudo with hearth-roasted grapes, or Ritz crackers with “cafe de Vardon” butter and smoked whiting. (The Stag will also be signing up to the Good Fish guide.)
Sustainability is critical for Sexton, who will also have a lot of pickles and ferments on the menu. “I was really lucky to spend some time with Heide [Bjerkan] from Restaurant Credo in Norway at Tasting Australia – she gave me some great garum recipes and stuff, so I’ve got lots of new, fresh ideas for us to use,” they say.
Beyond the changes in the kitchen, the restaurant will get a new lick of paint, more disco balls, and new wait-stations where staff will make pre-batched cocktails – including an Ouzo-groni, with a house-made ouzo-and-coffee liqueur – served quickly to keep the party going.
“Wait staff will be serving tables and making drinks, sorta simulating a dinner party – like you’d stand around in the kitchen having a wine and good times,” says Booker.
Helping the good times flow will be $5 Ouzo shots, plus shots of Montenegro and Campari, and a small, rotating wine list of local producers, including a few magnums for groups looking to celebrate.
Yiasou George is currently closed for renos. It will reopen as House of George on June 2.