There were a few things the old Alpha never had: a woodfired oven, a bar and a decent-sized kitchen. All that is about to change with the grand unveiling of Alpha 2.0 – a heightened version of the much-loved Greek city restaurant.
“It was important to us that we kept that Alpha feel,” says executive chef Peter Conistis. “We’ve brought it to where we’ve always wanted it to be. It’s still Alpha, but on steroids.”
To transform the space Conistis brought in interiors whiz Paul Papadopoulos, of creative agency DS17 (Henrietta, Nour and more). The space has retained many of the original features that made the Castlereagh Street venue so quintessentially Alpha: blond timber, marble, black lobster pots, and the famous stone-panelled walls with deeply engraved Greek letters. (And they’re bigger and better than ever now the team has found the two long-missing panels. Although how you misplace two enormous stone panels remains a mystery.)
Complete our survey for the chance to win a $1000 Broadsheet Gift Card.TAKE THE SURVEY
It took eight years to get approval to install a woodfired oven in the heritage-listed building, which used to be the Australian Workers Union HQ. “That was one tick we never had. Now we’ve got it, we’re embracing it. We are going crazy with it,” says Conistis.
In the spot where the atrium used to be, there is now an elaborate marble bar where diners can order food off the main menu or from a smaller meze menu featuring ossetra caviar imported from Greece, and Conistis’s tongue-in-cheek take on pigs in a blanket – Greek sausages wrapped in tsoureki (a soft, sweet bread similar to brioche). This approach continues behind the bar, where Conistis’s Bloody Alpha is made with sundried-tomato infused vodka, fresh horseradish and chilli, and served on cubes of tomato-juice ice. “I take what I know and transport it into something unique,” he says.
In the kitchen, Conistis and head chef James Roberts (Beta Bar, Salt Meats Cheese) are taking advantage of their new space (and new toys) with dishes such as suckling lamb on the spit and a Greek-style rotisserie chicken, which has been brined in feta, twice-cooked and served with a watermelon and feta salad. Conistis is also making smoked-eggplant pies cooked in the woodfired oven.
And while 90 per cent of the menu is new, there are three dishes Conistis will never take off the menu: his moussaka with scallops; a slow-roasted lamb (reimagined with a tweak he’s keeping under wraps for now); and the much-loved Alpha spanakopita.
Alpha has been operated a pop-up in The Rocks for summer.
Alpha 2.0, at 238 Castlereagh Street, Sydney, is slated to open in late April.