While doing your shop at Doncaster Westfield, as you ascend to level two, you’re likely to encounter something out of the ordinary to your usual shopping centre experience; delicious aromas wafting from a charcoal-fired rotisserie.
And if you decide to follow your nose (which, let’s be honest, if you’re anything like me you’re sure to do) you will stumble upon IONIO: Greek Charcoal BBQ.
On my first trip to Singapore when my extended family took me out for dinner and we ended up at the local shopping mall, I admittedly found it slightly unusual, but soon discovered there was good reason for our final destination given that some of city’s best kept foodie secrets were located there. And IONIO is just that, but Down Under.
Going strong for three years now, IONIO has quickly become a local institution and gained a significant following online with some 9,000 followers on Instagram alone.
So what sets IONIO apart? According to manager Jason William its their homestyle approach to food, which is taken to the next level by head chef Mark Tsirekas formerly of Hellenika at Nobbys Beach on the Gold Coast.
“We are making everything from scratch – dips, moussaka, meat marinade, and we cook all meat and seafood over the charcoal fire,” Mr William tells Neos Kosmos.
All food is made on the premises using traditional ingredients to ensure authentic flavour in every bite. For cheese lovers, there’s no going past the fried cheese ball made with kafalogravieria and drizzled with lemon, or their chips topped with lamb or chicken, garlic sauce, feta and spring onion to kick off your feast.
There’s also a classic village spanakopita and homestyle moussaka, along with an array of salads to choose from, such as the Goddess of Grains made with quinoa, barley, freekah, farro, almond, currants and pomegranate.
While everything on offer is cooked to perfection, there’s no going past their signature charcoal-fired meats – especially if that’s what enticed you in the first place – with a choice between the gyros, spit-fired baby chicken and generous meat platters with the best of everything including chicken, lamb, pork belly skewers, and loukaniko.
If you’re after value for money, drop by on Thursday nights for IONIO’s Meat Feast offer where for $22 per head you can enjoy a whole lamb slow-cooked on the charcoal-fired rotisserie served with house-made tzatziki and pita bread.
What’s also refreshing to see is that while you’re always sure to find your favourites, chef Tsirekas ensures the menu offerings are constantly evolving with weekly specials most nights of the week.
There’s also a fully functioning bar on site, with drinks imported locally and straight from Greece, along with Dukes coffee for a caffeine kick.
Aside from their their delicious menu, the space is particularly inviting given the site’s stunning city views, and can cater to larger groups and for special functions.
There are a couple of packages to choose from for groups, which start from $36 per head, along with a professional stylist on call to take the event to the next level with a stunning styled table and floral arrangements.
While eating your gyro, washed down with an icy cold Mythos beer, don’t be surprised if you’re distracted into thinking you’re back in Greece. It happens to everyone.
* Special offer: Now at IONIO you can buy one mixed gyros and get the second one free (not valid with any other offer).
IONIO: Greek Charcoal BBQ is located at Doncaster Westfield Shopping Centre, Level 2 (next to cinemas) Shop 2001, 619 Doncaster Rd, Doncaster, VIC.
To view the menu and make a reservation visit www.ionio.com.au or call (03) 9840 1423. You can also get social, by liking their page on Facebook www.facebook.com/IONIOGreekStreetFood/ and following them on Instagram @ioniogreekcharcoalbbq for more mouthwatering posts.