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Restaurant of the Week: Alati on Amoy Street stays true to its Greek roots

Greek restaurant Alati on Amoy Street offers a taste of Athens in a Santorini-like setting.

Walking into 73 Amoy Street is almost like stepping into Greece – even if just for dinner. Two white wooden doors and a potted olive tree fronts the restaurant; inside, white-washed wooden walls and ultramarine blue cushions that line white stone seats add a cosy dimension to the airy spaciousness the high cavernous ceilings brings.

Sure, part of us wishes the restaurant didn’t model its interiors after Santorini – a beautiful if not overly photographed city on everyone’s bucket list – but it’s done up so well that we’re willing to look past this.

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White-washed wooden walls and ultramarine blue cushions add cosiness to the restaurant.

Besides, the food here is delicious. Dishes follow the style of Greece’s capital state Athens as “it is more palatable”, and resembles a cross between Italian and Turkish cuisine. “People tend to think of Greek food as just kebabs, but we share a lot of similarities with both Turkey and Italy,” says Leong Khai Git, general manger of Alati.

Leong was formerly executive chef at Dibs restaurant and bar, which serves modern food with a local take. The 31-year-old is now restaurateur together with two Greek businessmen he met through a friend. Athen-born chef Soutsos Dimitrios rounds up the team as executive chef. The choice was between opening in Athens or Singapore, and the team picked the latter. A smart move, going by the numbers on a Thursday night. It’s just hitting half-past seven, but nearly all 58 seats in here are already taken.

A good way to start is to order up a platter of mixed dips with warm pita bread triangles. There’s fava (bean puree), tarmosalata (salted cod roe cream), tzatziki yogurt and a smoked eggplant with walnut to choose from, though our favourite is the unassuming pale pink cod roe cream that has an addictive briny finish.

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Fyllo-wrapped Feta, served with Greek honey and sesame seeds

Another starter, the fyllo-wrapped feta, is one we really should have saved for dessert but just couldn’t stop sneaking in forkful after forkful. A generous block of feta is wrapped snugly in layers of crisp flaky pastry, then drizzled with Greek (naturally) honey and a light smatter of sesame seeds for that bit of crunch. It’s dense, it’s rich, and it’s irresistible.

(RELATED: Check out our other Restaurant of the Week reviews – Cheek By Jowl, Whitegrass)

Opt for the seafood when it comes to mains, because Dimitrios does this well. Alati brings in their haul thrice a week, so the grilled squid that we order is sweet and fresh. It’s served simply as it is, with a side of moreish squid ink mayo and rocket pesto.

Wines here are also good value as Alati does away with recognisable and pricier labels, focusing instead on a selection of Greek wines – which boast citrusy notes more than floral ones – picked by Konstantinos Lazarakis, who holds the prestigious position Master of Wine. The glass of white we have from the label Tselepos Mantina, for instance, is dry and crisp with a clean flavour profile.

Alati might have opened quietly without much rah-rah, but it’s the kind of place that won’t stay a secret for long.

Rating: 3.5/5. Like a smooth-running, elegant Apple.

Spotlight On: Fyllo-wrapped feta, Grilled squid

Insider’s Tip: Ask for the corner booth near the entrance that sits two to three comfortably. It has the best vantage point for a spot of people-watching.

Alati Divine Greek Cuisine

73 Amoy Street

Tel: 6221-6124

www.alati.sg