If you love Greek sweets as much as I do, then you will also love Nikos Quality Cakes. It is a large cafe piled high with all the favourites. If Willy Wonka was Greek, this is what his cafe would look like! Rows of baklava, Greek doughnuts (loukoumades), shredded pastry with custard or nuts (kataifi), semolina cake, almond shortbread (kourabiethes) and a custard slice sandwiched between layers of pastry (galaktoboureko). There is a reason that sometimes people need to queue to get into this shop!
As well as sweets, Nikos also serves light meals and coffee. There is Greek savoury food on offer (such as moussaka and yemista) as well as other cafe food such as pannini. The food is on display in a glass cabinet which is on the side of the cafe that opens up to the pedestrian mall. There is seating both inside and outside the cafe. I have found the staff to be friendly. I like the fact that the staff seem to take genuine pride in their authentic sweets.
Nikos is located in Oakleigh, one of the centres of Melbourne’s large Greek community. Greek Orthodox Easter is this weekend (13-15 April 2012). If you are celebrating it, and have not got around to baking your Easter bread (tsoureki tou paska), then Nikos have some delicious looking hampers. They even include the dyed red eggs! The price ranges from $40-$70. I forgot to see if they include flaounes (cheese, mint and sultana pastries eaten at Easter, particularly by Greek-Cypriots). If not, time to roll up your sleeves with Yeya, or otherwise reach for Tess Mallos’ timeless “The Complete Middle Eastern Cookbook” (1979)!
Nikos is open daily from 9am-8pm (and sometimes later). The prices are reasonable. For instance, a small piece of baklava is $3.50 and a cup of tea is $4.50.
PS. If you want a souvlaki before you indulge, pop down a few doors to Eurobites (21 Portman Street) and you will not be disappointed!