Argo (Thera 847 00, Greece Phone +30 2286 022594  )  seems to have impressed its share of patrons as the place was fully booked on an evening that was very quiet for most of its local competitors. Even the other local top gun, Ouzeri, looked empty in comparison. But reserve your table weeks in advance…if you want to eat in company of the stunning view of the caldera. 

I ordered some of their “recommended” dishes:

Patatina – Argo cooks superb classic Greek food, but their patatina is some sort of “cosmopolitan” invention of their own. In this instance , they reduced fried potato of superb quality into the delicate shape of vermicelli (inspired by the Chinese potato bird nest??)  and topped the whole thing with some scramble eggs. It is not the invention of the decade, but it was well executed 8/10

Fava bean purée had superlative flavour and texture. And this is coming from someone who has fava beans as one of the Main ingredients of his country. Fava beans has a unique taste, though, here in Santorini, because of its volcanic soil. 10/10

White egg plant is one of the main ingredients of Santorini. It was simply baked but revealed some serious sourcing. The cooking was as flawless: seasoning and timing that showcased superb know-how / technique. Excellent 9/10

Giaprakia – Greek stuffed cabbage rolls (ground meat, rice, mint) served with fries and yoghurt sauce. The presentation is elegant, the genuine traditional flavours vibrant. Quality ingredients are used. A benchmark yiaprakia. 10/10

An assortment of fresh seafood (mussels, shrimps) was timely cooked in a delicious tomato sauce. As I explained elsewhere, I tend to perceive Chefs who cook seafood with great care (the case, here) as capable of cooking everything else (vegetables, meats)  with brio, and this entire meal was an example of just that. 8/10

Overall food rating (categ: Mediterranean/ Greek): 9/10

Service: 10/10

Bottom line: Argo could cook some of the best Mediterranean food of any major food city in the world. Even the service, at Argo, was of prime mention (my main waitress, Angelica, would not be out of place in a Michelin star restaurant). Both Argo and the Old tavern of Psaras were the highlights of my foodie adventures in Greece. Next time I will be in Greece, I will happily eat again at those two restaurants and will make a detour by  Thessaloniki, the capital of Greek Macedonia, as many Greeks I know have raved about the dazzling food in that city.

The old tavern of psaras (Erotokritou ke Erechtheos 16, Athina 105 56, Phone: +30 21 0321 8733) is located in the very touristy area of Plaka

If you meet someone complaining about plaka’s  food been touristy, he is certainly not wrong, but then he needs to eat at places like the old tavern of psaras. The  food, here,  is genuinely Greek. 

I discovered this tavern after a joke with a local. I argued with him that Plaka was the worst place for a foodie. He responded that I needed to try the old tavern of psaras, and that I should let him know how things went.

The tavern is situated at the top of a flight of stairs of Plaka, in an area called anafiotika. 

Feta cheese ravasaki – the folks at Fato o Mano should come here and have a taste of how grilled feta cheese, sesame seeds and honey does rarely fail in the hands of the Greeks. An example of a benchmark feta cheese ravasaki (dazzling flavours, superb ingredients). 10/10

Boiled octopus in vinegar and olive oil – loved the rustic presentation. they do not go rustic because tourists are looking for that. The cooking is rustic because it is genuinely traditional. big pieces of semi firm octopus (the texture I grew up to consider as the right one, in the fishermen village of the Indian Ocean where i was born), with a good chew. Superb maritime flavour and exquisite seasoning. 9/10

Baked Chicken in lemon is very Mediterranean and, of course, very Greek. Delicious traditional sauce, the quality chicken cooked expertly. This is one of my preferred classic Greek / Mediterranean dishes and although not a dish that is hard to execute, I cannot say that it has always been as great as this one that they made at the OToP. Excellent 9/10

Fava purée- after the refined versions at R41 and Argo, I was ready for a rustic rendition of the Fava purée, which is what the OToP offers. Another successful traditional dish 7/10

Overall food rating: 9/10 Flawless traditional Greek cuisine. To the local who has recommended the old tavern of psaras, you know your food really well, buddy! 

Avli Tou Thodori (Platys Gialos, Mykonos Phone: +30 2289 078100) is right on the beach of Platys Gialos in Mykonos. There is a small street with two mini food stores as well as the public bus stop. If you leave that tiny street and get on the beach, Avli is the first restaurant you will find on that beach.

raw sea urchin – the gonads fresh, their maritime fragrance in evidence. Next time, dear Avli, try to leave them in their shells (way more fun to espy), but hey…I liked it like that, too!

Some excellent freshly baked pita bread made an appearance.

Greek lamb kleftiko baked in parchment paper, mixed with cheese, carrots, pepper. A classic of greek cuisine that is very simple to make, but you need a good palate to get it right. Their Chef has that good palate, and when he cooks his classics, he does it with the heart and soul of a talented old world artisan Chef. 8/10

Traditional Greek donuts come in different varieties. Theirs was not a benchmark of its kind, but it was delicious and done well. 7/10

I went back a second time, days later, to test some few menu items that involved not just sourcing, but the cooking technique and the kitchen brigade was as inspired as on my initial visit. 

Overall food rating  8/10

Bottom line: I picked 4 of their top  10 in Mykonos. Avli did beat them all, with Yialo coming second. It is not only a restaurant offering good food, it has also a nice interior as well as superb service and it is right on the beach. 

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To Ouzeri (Thera 847 00, Greece  Phone: +30 2286 021566) is one of the most popular and finer  restaurants of Fira, the capital city of Santorini. 

Fried battered cod fish balls, beetroot and garlic cream/ this had superb taste and flavour, the balls of fried  cod fish not oily at all. The presentation is done with care. 8/10

Giouvetsi veal stew in tomato sauce served with orzo pasta, Parmesan cheese. Another excellent dish showcasing some serious technique (timing, seasoning were all examples of what they should be), the Chef having an excellent palate. I liked how Avli in Mykonos made his stew, and yet Ouzeri managed to deliver a tastier one. 9/10

Overall Food rating (Categ: Greek, Mediterranean) 9/10

Bottom line: In Santorini, I preferred Argo  a tad more (Argo  is so fun, with food to match and if you can snatch a seat with the caldera view, go for it! ), but Yes, culinary-wise, Ouzeri is on par. Genuinely Greek and tasting great. 

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Le Dôme (108 Boulevard du Montparnasse, 75014 Paris, Phone: 01 43 35 25 81), opened in 1897, is an upscale historical brasserie  in Paris. 

Saumon marine a l’aneth (dill marinated salmon) was fine enough, but it would not be hard to fine better versions of that, at plenty of restaurants in Paris 6/10

I came here for the oysters. It is actually Huitrerie Garnier that I wanted to revisit. HG is one of my go to places for oysters in Paris, but it is closed till September. As I was walking nearby Le Dôme, I remembered that they have quite a variety of interesting oysters and decided to push open their door. France has some of the very best oysters in the world, thanks to  their strict quality controls and standards that are rarely seen elsewhere. In France, oysters are offered  by weight. Numbers 0 to 5  are assigned to oysters. The higher is the number, the smaller is the oyster (that is explained here). I ordered 3 types of oysters: the huîtres creuses boudeuse de bretagne (Cote Des Menhirs) and tsarskaya no2 (Parcs Saint Kerber) as well as the huîtres plates  Plate de Cancale no.­000 from that same Parcs Saint Kerber.

As usual in France, they do not joke with their oysters and Le Dôme does not joke with theirs, neither, therefore you had perfectly well shucked oysters of fine quality with a flawless mignonette. I prefer Huitre Garnier for oysters in Paris, and Paris has plenty of stellar oysters to feast on, but Le Dôme’s oysters are certainly well sourced.

Mousse au chocolat, marmelade d’oranges, sorbet passion – classic French kitchen brigades are what you are looking for when it comes to a fine mousse of chocolate. The chocolate was of fine quality, its thick consistency tolerable, but there were many rivers to cross between the finer mousse of chocolate of France and this one (just not as dazzling on the palate). 6/10

Millefeuille ” Napoléon” parfumé au rhum et à la vanille – Rhum and vanilla flavored Millefeuille came with a spectacular rustic flaky look that some generations of French may have flirted with, at some point in their life, but it was not as memorable on the palate nor to the smell as the finer Millefeuille that those same generations have known. Still, this was tolerable, just  not as enjoyable as it should have been. 5/10

Overall food rating (Categ: French Brasserie): 6/10 Yes, the oysters are well sourced,  BUT such classic French brasserie needs to offer better renditions of basic classic French desserts such as a chocolate mousse or a Millefeuille.

Bottom line: Le Dôme is ideal for a piece of restaurant history in Paris. It has couple of historical companions in the vincinity. Last time I was here, it was 25 years ago and I am glad that such historic restaurants is still open. Couple of metro stations away, at metro st germain des pres, restaurant history goes on with cafe de flore, brasserie Lipp. On the culinary front, well, the best of classic French cooking in Paris will not come from here. It is neither good, nor bad.

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Nikos Gallop (Platys Gialos, Mykonos, Phone: 30 22890- 24306) is another popular restaurant of Platys Gialos in Mykonos, cooking cretan and mykonian cuisine. There is a small street with two corner stores, a spa, the public bus stop. There is just one street like that, in Platys Gialos ;) – On that street (a slope, actually), Instead of taking the direction of the beach, you head the opposite way, and Nikos is right there at the top of that slope. It is not even 5 mins walk between the bottom and the top of that slope.

Grilled red pepper suffed with feta was ordinary. This is a food item that relies on great produce. The produce was not bad, to be fair, but not good enough to make this dish memorable (which it can be) 6/10

Youvetsi with lobster. This traditional Greek baked pasta dish is usually made with beef, lamb or chicken, which are replaced by lobster, here at NG. Tomato sauce, shallots, garlic, red wine are the other components of that dish. They use orzo as the pasta. The dish could remind you of a tomato-based risotto (essentially because orzo is shaped like grains of rice), but it is technically not a risotto. Not bad and tasty enough, but not close to  the most delicious Youvetsi I had neither. The Greeks cook their pastas a bit longer than aldente, which I already knew, and that I did appreciate as it is, but keep that in mind if u like ur pasta to be aldente.    I think they should make their Youvetsi with lamb or beef as I am afraid the lobster does not add much, in a way of improved flavour, to tomato sauce based dishes. 6/10

Service: as it is the case virtually eveywhere in Platys Gialos, workers of the hospitality industry are aware of the importance of tourism in Mykonos and are trained accordingly. The owner offers a drink on the house (for eg, a glass of ouzo) to all his patrons at the end of the meal. 

Pros: It is not easy to attract more patrons than your competitor, in such a small area with so many restaurants. On the back of the hordes of people that kept coming in, on the evening of my visit, it is clear that NG won the popularity contest.

Cons: It is traditional cooking, I gather, but they can and should lift their game.

Overall food rating (Categ: Mediterranean): 6/10

Bottom line: They keep it rustic and homey, which is traditionally my preference, but this sort of food can and should be improved by better produce and superlative flavours. And that was not the case, here.  The bread was also an afterthought, and you are charged for it (this applies to most restaurants in Greece).

Restaurant 41 (Ag.Georgios Perivolos Thíra, Kikladhes, Greece 84701, Phone 30 2286 082710) is on the beach of perivolos, a beach that is very popular, its sand is not your  typical golden soft sand (the sand is black). It is built in what used to be a tomato paste factory, with a decor that looks casual and contemporary by the standards of nearby restaurants. 

I came here following a confusion (??) or perhaps …not (??): a local, who spoke good English and seemed to have understood my request for some great traditional Greek oven baked chicken/lemon did recommend R41. He told me that I could find that dish at R41. As I was going to discover it while eating at R41, they do not cook such dish…

Bread was served with some fine yogurt/paprika, olive oil/balsamic vinegar of first-rate quality, and a tomato paste mix (it was an old factory of tomato) that was of fine quality, for sure, but It is hard for me to be excited about tomato paste, however fine its  quality…

Tomato balls, yoghurt mousse & peppers coulis – tomato donuts , freshly fried, tasting great. Since the interior is not firm, it absorbs a bit more oil than a fried food with firmer interior, obviously, but that is how the fried tomato ball is designed and not a fault. Very good (enticing taste) 8/10

Lamb souvlaki, pita bread, cherry tomatoes, yogurt mousse, taboule (which is essentially crushed wheat) – freshly grilled quality lamb, the pita bread fine. I could do without what they call “taboule”.

Fava beans was a close second to the one I had at Argos, with perfected smooth texture. It came with a poached egg that they want you to mix with the fava purée. why not? It makes sense to combine both, but try the fava purée on its own, before mixing it with the egg. 8/10

Rivani- sponge cake soaked in sugar syrup (akin to a creme brûlée, but made with a base of sponge cake. Good semi-firm texture of the sponge cake. The caramel well done. Good 7/10

Overall food rating: N/A

Bottom line: The Chef at Restaurant 41 can cook, there is no doubt about that. My problem with R41 is that some items like the taboule is not the tabouleh that most people know. Apparently what they call “couscous ” is not “couscous” in its popular form, neither. Someone who never tried tabouleh or couscous will find this fun, perhaps, but It is not fun at all in my books, therefore it is impossible for me to rate this restaurant. I have no clue why such a capable Chef (average cooks do not deliver tomato balls and Fava beans purée of this quality) adds such unecessary touches to his cooking. I did not appreciate to be misled by that local who did recommend this place to me (Obviously, he was more interested to get this restaurant known rather than taking my request for some classic Greek food seriously),  but R41 is not a bad restaurant –  just remember that if you have some specific expectation about the food you want to order, I strongly suggest  you talk to them about it.