It was The Wife’s birthday and she wanted Greek food, so we ended up in Alati at Amoy Street.
We had previously walked past the restaurant while heading for dinner at a Korean BBQ place down the street. Alati looked bright and breezy and given that Greek restaurants aren’t that common in Singapore, we went there for lunch a couple of months back to check it out. The food was good and service was great, so we decided to make a return visit.
Google “Santorini” and you’ll find countless photos like the one below. Warm white walls with bright blue architectural accents, and you can almost feel the fresh wind blowing across your skin. Short of taking an 18-hour indirect flight, Alati is probably as close as it gets to the real thing.
The first sight that greats you as you step in is an ice-filled tray of fish specially flown in from Greece. I leaned in subtly for a smell test, fully expecting a whiff of wet market fragrance, but got nothing instead. Fresh and not jet lagged, exactly how I like my fish.
Note that the Red Porgy is not to be confused with the Porg from Star Wars, which is a bird. If it wasn’t imaginary, that is.
The interior decor was predominantly warm white with a multitude of blue and beige cushions. High ceilings and hanging lights covered by pretty metal lattice shades, and the seats were comfortable.
It was a good sign that each table came with its own bottle of Greek extra virgin olive oil. Greece is one of the world’s largest producers of olive oil, with the highest national per-capita consumption. The olive oil was good. Nice and fruity, and available for sale by the bottle if you wanted to bring some home.
We were back again for lunch and reached at around 12 noon. There were already a few tables occupied, and by the time we were served our main courses, it was almost full. As it was a weekday, it was filled with mostly working professionals, with at least two separate large tables of what appeared to be business lunches with clients.
The three course lunch set menu at $35++ offered good cost-performance and decent variety. We ordered one set lunch plus an additional appetiser and main dish from the ala carte menu, and shared everything.
Our set lunch choices were the cold mezze platter, grilled seasonal fish (sea bream), orange cake with ice cream (Portakalopita) and black coffee. The additions were the smoked eggplant dip (Melitzanosalata) and the grilled octopus (Xtapodi grilled), which came highly recommended by our lovely waitress.
I have to commend the waitstaff at Alati for their passion and professionalism. It was a busy lunch service but they went about their work calm and unrushed. We were peppering our waitress with questions and she patiently and enthusiastically answered all of them. You get the sense that they take pride in their job, and that management treats them well.
Our appetisers arrived quickly, and were as fresh tasting as they looked. The cold meze platter came with tomatoes, cucumber, olives, pita triangles, feta cheese, two dips — a fava bean puree and a spicy feta/yogurt/peppers blend (Tyrokafteri), plus a zucchini fritter which sort of reminded me of the Malay bergedil.
I’m not a fan of feta cheese, and find it too salty for my taste, but setting aside my personal preference, the cold meze platter was good. They have many other meze choices in their ala carte menu including Spanakopita, which is basically a spinach samosa.
The smoked eggplant dip had chopped roasted red peppers and toasted walnuts mixed in. It was very nice with the pita bread and also on its own. If you’re an eggplant fan, like The Wife, you have to try this.
Our mains arrived just as we were scraping up the last bites of the eggplant. The grilled sea bream tasted as clean as it smelled on the way in. It came with a side of what I initially thought was spinach, but the menu said vlita horta which Google says is a Greek amaranth green. We also ordered the grilled fish the last time round, and the fish tasted fresh both times, proof of the consistency of their kitchen and produce.
The grilled octopus was even more tasty. It was served with confit cherry tomatoes on a bed of caramelised onions and drizzled with aged balasmic vinegar. The texture was just right, not rubbery or mushy, with the charred bits and suction cups providing a nice contrasting crunch.
As our waitress cleared our empty plates, we asked her for her recommendation for our next visit. She suggested having the whole grilled fish, especially the Milokopi (and no, she was not referring to a mixed chocolate and coffee drink).
We finished off our meal with orange honey cake, ice cream and Greek coffee. The Wife found the cake too sweet, so I polished most of it off. The Greek coffee was interesting, and similar to Turkish coffee in that the grounds remain in the cup. It was strong but not quite to our taste; we’re more hand-filtered coffee people nowadays.
Alati has an interesting wine list of predominantly Greek wines. I had a glass of Greek sparkling rosé the last time, and remembered that it was sweet and juicy. I’ll definitely want to try more of their wines next time, preferably with reinforcements to share a few bottles, plus the whole grilled fish of course.
We will be back, and hopefully soon.
Alati is at 73 Amoy Street. We took the MRT to Tanjong Pagar station, walked though the underpass to Frasers Tower, popped up to the surface near Amoy Food Centre and walked pass Thian Hock Keng Temple into Amoy Street.