The name 1821 refers to the year the Greeks launched their war of independence, and chef David Tsierkas faced a battle of his own to get the restaurant open. Negotiations with the landlord and Sydney City Council created a yearlong delay – and much anticipation among Sydney diners – with the Pitt Street venue opening in November 2016.
The size and scale of this Pitt Street restaurant befits its lofty name, and pays tribute to Greek history and heritage. Split into three distinct zones – a main dining, top-floor mezzanine and basement bar, plus a bunker-style hideout – 1821 is decorated with historical references.
There’s a partition of walking sticks, an ode to the hill-dwelling guerilla shepherds of the Greek rebellion, alongside the most striking feature of all: a floor-to-ceiling Greek flag on the far right wall – cut out from white plaster to expose the original brick beneath.
When it comes to the food, Tsirekas took to tweaking classic dishes without losing the hallmarks of comfort and generosity. The flavours are clean and refined, with dishes designed for sharing – in the Greek tradition.
Tsirekas has worked tirelessly to build one-on-one relationships with small-scale suppliers to ensure the best produce hits the plate. Take the octopus. Supplied by Southern Fresh Seafood, it’s simply served, charred and tender, with swordfish taramasalata and pickled vegetables. The lamb shoulder and lobster pasta are among his favourites on the menu.
With an abundance of ouzo and names such as Aphrodite Bellini (sparkling Greek wine, ouzo, pear purée, lemon) and Tears of Chios (Mastiha, Belvedere, Chambord, lemon), the cocktails drive the message home. But it’s the wine list – full of sparkling, white and red varieties from Santorini to Crete – that comes as the unexpected twist.