Archive for the ‘Greek’ Category

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, To 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 (not all tables have a caldera view). 

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 well as visiting the Peloponnese as many Greeks I know have raved about the dazzling food in both locations.

Advertisements

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! 

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.

Vizantino taverna (18 Kydatheneon Street, Plaka, Athens Phone +30 21 0322 7368)
Stumbled upon this  taverna of Plaka while walking in Plaka.

Spinach cheese pie – not freshly baked, meaning reheated, consequently hard and dry

Veal with eggplant – delicious eggplant, delicious sauce BUT The meat was reheated, therefore…again, it was dry … and could not  taste as meaty as it should have been. 

Lamb lemon sauce – at first, it was available. Then 5 minutes later, it was not …anymore. Therefore, they asked if I would like some grilled lamb, instead, which I agreed on, only to discover that … even the grilled lamb …they managed to  reheat it…!!

Cooked to order is a notion they have NEVER heard of, at Vizantino …

Overall food rating: 0/10 Dear cooks at vizantino, how would you feel if reheated food was served to you at a restaurant? Chances are that you would find it insulting and you would confront the restaurant staff. I happen to be well behaved and I do not go to restaurants to confront anyone, but ….by respect to the hard work of the honest workers of the restaurant industry, I hope that  words will spread so that you start realizing  that what you would not accept to be fed on…well, you SHOULD NOT feed people with it.   Yes, you are popular, but in an instance like this, what I could not fail to observe is that there were just tourists at your restaurant, which, btw.. should not be an excuse …for a serious restaurant, I mean…to serve reheated food – On the back of this meal, you do not seem interested to be a serious restaurant. You are an insult to the hard working and proud professionals that I have met all along this trip in Greece, namely the folks at Argo, the Old tavern of Psaras, Avli Tou Thodori, To Ouzeri, Yialo Yialo, all true restaurant  professionals who are located in places far more beautiful and touristy than the “slum village” corner of Plaka where you are operating and could have rested on their laurels because tourists would flock to their restaurants, anyways,  but  herein lies the difference between you and them: they are professionals. You are not.