Finally, Canberra’s craving for modern Mediterranean cuisine has been met with the opening of Podilato, the new Mantra MacArthur Hotel’s contemporary restaurant.

The modern fit out features fantastic interior design elements, from the funky furniture, the innovative crockery and the hanging, decorative lights.

The menu features share plates and tapas dishes including dips and antipasto, an array of seafood dishes, vego options including Patatas Bravas (crispy fried potatoes, smothered in a spicy tomato salsa and aioli sauce – YUM), and not-so-vego options like the Persian Lamb Kofta and mini Gyros packed with sweet potato chips. Also on the menu are classic sides to pair with your main meal, as well as desserts to satisfy your sweet tooth, what more could you want?

With Mediterranean and Australian wines featuring on the menu, Head Chef Sean Mawbey is well-versed in creating succulent dishes that pair beautifully with this crafted wine list. He uses the freshest ingredients and uncomplicated cooking styles which show the richness, tradition and delicacy of modern variations of classic Mediterranean dishes.

“My cooking philosophy is to accentuate the natural flavours and characteristics of the food, and to put a Modern-Australian twist on traditional dishes,” Sean says.

Sean has shaped a menu for Podilato that incorporates Greek, Spanish, and Italian dishes that don’t clash but complement each other and highlight the freshness of the seasonal ingredients.

The first dish we tasted and loved, accompanied with a smooth Spanish white wine, was the Grilled Octopus. This Bermagui octopus was marinated in smoked paprika, garlic and lemon and was cooked over the grill to give it that smoky tang. The octopus was cooked to perfection, with the smokiness and spices powering through with every bite. The classic drizzle of lemon juice on the ocean fresh dish brought it back to its classic Mediterranean roots.

“When preparing Mediterranean cuisine, I’m particularly fond of seafood but I also like to slow-cook food; it takes time and patience, but it reflects the Mediterranean way of life and is definitely worth the wait,” Sean says.

This is certainly true for the second delectable seafood dish we were served, the Paella Balls. The saffron stained rice balls combined with a fresh mix of seafood and the traditional chorizo and chicken elements of classic paella dishes was covered with a crunchy breadcrumb mixture and served with a generous dollop of fresh lemon aioli. The aioli paired extremely well with the crunch of the breadcrumb and the flavour of paella.

Next was a vego’s dream, the Saganaki – a plate of heaven featuring grilled halloumi, topped with roasted sweet capsicum, which is then dressed with lemon, olive oil, dill and mint. The sweetness of the capsicum mixed amazingly with the salty halloumi, the zing of the lemon dressing and the freshness of the herbs, creating an explosion of flavour for the taste buds to enjoy.

For the main, the Steak Selection of the Day with red wine jus, salted sweet potato chips, topped with a mass of crumbled feta and broccolini on the side, was just divine. The red wine jus perfectly matched the heartiness of the steak and softness of the crumbled feta, which made for a fantastic all-rounder dish.

Pairing the Greek Salad alongside the steak selection of the day is the right move, trust me. The classic salad was all we dreamed it would be – traditional, tangy, fresh and classic! Prepared with tomato, capsicum, red onion and olives, tossed together with a red wine vinaigrette and oregano, the dish is topped off with a heavenly slab of feta layering the popular salad.

Treated to dessert, the made-from-scratch Lemon Cheesecake with blueberry coulis and pistachio gelato was the perfect way to end the meal. The masterfully crafted cheesecake, classic combination of flavours, and the perfect plating arrangement was the definition of sweet tooth satisfaction and ended our experience at Podilato with a nice food coma.

The friendly Mediterranean menu and casual, yet sophisticated setting make you feel like you’re feasting at a tavern in the Greek islands or out for dinner in a popular coastal Italian town.

Perfect for anyone looking for a taste of the Mediterranean, whether you’re an in-house guest or wanderer from the city, Podilato is the perfect destination for your breakfast, a coffee, a snack for lunch, or a sit down delicious, colourful dinner.

Click here to for Podilato’s venue profile

For more information on Podilato, click here

For more information on Mantra MacArthur, click here