For 2017, Funky Gourmet in Kerameikos and Spondi in Pangrati have held on to their 2 Michelin star ratings; likewise Varoulko, Hytra and Botrini’s have kept their single stars.
Together with Oikeio in Kolonaki and Athiri in Kerameikos, newly opened Nolan in Syntagma under chef Sotiris Kontizas has been added to the list of Athens restaurants awarded with Bib Gourmand status by Michelin (which recognizes exceptional food at moderate prices).
Top quality ingredients, sophisticated techniques and high levels of artistry in their presentations are what set apart the following eight dishes. The majority are seafood or fish based, with the latter sourced directly from fishing boats plying the deep waters of the Aegean.
Chef duo Georgianna Hiliadaki and Nikos Roussos have created a tight, yet surprising and playful menu that sees the restaurant packed on a daily basis, with one needing to make a reservation many days in advance. One of the more recent additions to the menu is also the one that steals the show.
The sea urchin pasta is made with exceptional ingredients: handmade pasta, fresh sea urchins collected daily from the waters of the Aegean (usually around the islands of Crete or Lesvos) and black truffle cream from Pylos in the Peloponnese. The flavor palette is further enhanced by dill, chives, lemongrass and lime zest. Sea urchin caviar, a purple edible flower and black truffle shavings added table-side complete the presentation. The sea urchin pasta is included in both of the tasting menus offered by Funky Gourmet and you will be able to find the perfect wine to accompany this unique dish from the extensive wine list.
13 Paramythias, Kerameikos, Tel. +30 210.524.2727. Open Tuesday – Saturday, 19.30 – 01.30.
In two-starred Spondi in Pangrati the lights are dim and the music soft. The elegant indoor dining room and cool courtyard are where the award-winning dishes of chef Angelos Lantos are served – each one a small work of art.
One of Spondis’ signature dishes is the crayfish that is served as an appetizer. A healthy serving of crayfish marinated in a stock made with vegetables and herbs with aromas of lemon and grapefruit is topped by a layer Daurenki Petrossian caviar. The legendary French company produces only top quality caviar with the specific variety coming from sturgeons that live in a lake on the Russian-Chinese border.
The rich and buttery flavor of the caviar erupts in the mouth, contrasting delightfully with the herby taste of the marinade, the tartness of the citrus fruits and the saltiness of the crayfish. Simply unforgettable.
5 Pyrronos, Pangrati, Tel. +30 210.752.0658, open daily 20.00-23.45
The wooden deck by the sea in the harbor of Mikrolimano is the perfect setting for fresh fish and Lefteris Lazaros and his partner Yiannis Parikos source their fish exclusively from local fishermen. One standout dish is the fish fillet (which depending on the day could be grouper, sea bream, Common dentex or John Dory) with a stuffed Jerusalem artichoke and cream of the same vegetable. The Jerusalem artichoke (also known as a topinambour) is neither an artichoke, nor does it come from Jerusalem; it is an edible tuber with a flavor that can resemble that of artichokes or potatoes.
The fish fillet is masterfully cooked and juicy. The cream of Jerusalem artichoke is velvety and airy with an earthy taste, while intensity is provided by the crunchy chips made from the same root and the Jerusalem artichoke itself which is stuffed with a filling made from its flesh together with smoked bacon.
An ideal dish to start with is the calamari with basil pesto in a nest made from fried potatoes (pictured above). The calamari provides the necessary crunch which is complemented by the tartness and saltiness of the pesto. It is accompanied by a tomato sauce.
52 Akti Koumoundourou, Mikrolimano, Piraeus, Tel. +30 210.522.8400. Open Daily 13.00-17.00 and 19.30-01.00.
Dine with an uninterrupted view of the Acropolis at the restaurant located on the top floor of the Onassis Cultural Center. Chef Tasos Mantis has designed a 14-dish menu that provides a modern showcase for Greek cuisine with an emphasis on the quality of the raw ingredients. Also in the works is a more dedicated effort to implement a comprehensive “farm to table” ethos with the restaurant influencing the way suppliers grow their crops.
The dish “Chef’s Garden” reflects this philosophy as many of the flowers and herbs that are used come from the chef’s own private farm. Over 20 different vegetables, herbs and edible flowers make up this colorful dish: charred lettuce hearts, arugula, kale, mustard leaves, baby spinach, basil, mint, pansies, marigolds, calendula and many more – a veritable garden, aromatic and tasty. It is served with cream of onion and a foam made from Jerusalem artichoke.
The Chef’s Garden is followed by handmade bread made with hemp seeds, linseeds, and pumpkin seeds which is served with extra virgin olive oil, coarse salt and dried thyme.
Onassis Cultural Center, 107-109 Syngrou Avenue, Athens, Tel. +30 217.707.118. Open Sunday – Thursday 20.00 – 0.00, Friday & Saturday, 20.00 – 01.00.
In a quiet neighborhood in Halandri, far from the central square and busy commercial streets, Ettore Botrini offers an exciting menu. Wherever you sit in the warm and inviting space, you will have a clear view of the open kitchen where the chefs produce their unique creations. The dish “Swordfish Carpaccio as fishermen style on the Elba island (reference to Corfiot neratzosalata 2003)”, as the name suggests, has influences from Botrini’s home island of Corfu and Italy.
The fishermen in Italy tend to marinate fish using citrus fruits. Botirini draws on this tradition using Corfu’s kumquats and bitter oranges and the result is truly unforgettable. The thin slices of smoked swordfish have been marinated in seawater. On top, citrus fruits in various forms, textures and shapes are laid: orange confit, kumquat, lemon and lime. The sorbet made from jalapeño peppers provides the necessary heat, contrasting with the citrus fruits, while the dish also has nasturtium leaves and olive oil with paprika. A truly flavorful adventure served on a wooden board which we would happily return in order to eat it again and again.
24B Vasileos Georgiou II, Tel. +30 210.685.7323. Open Tuesday – Saturday 20.00 – 0.00
From the restaurant’s earliest days, when it was still located in the western district of Korydallos, this dish has been on the menu. The stewed octopus with sundried tomato and capers is one of chef Alexandros Kardasi’s favourite dishes. A big, satisfying tentacle is cooked in a rich tomato sauce with plenty of capers, sundried tomatoes, chives, thyme, parsley, star of anise and white wine.
From the first bite you will be transported to the seaside during the summertime. At Athiri they consider eating it with bread essential so that you can dip it in the delicious sauce.
15 Plataion, Kerameikos, Tel. +30 210.346.2983. Open Tuesday – Saturday 20.00-01.00, Sunday 13.00-17.00.
For twenty years now Oikeio in Kolonaki has been serving Greek dishes both with a twist and not in a very warm bistro-like space. The menu has many options: from classic recipes such as briam and soutzoukakia with rice to more modern dishes such as tagliatelle with cream of dill and smoked salmon.
A standout for us were the fried chicken mini-fillets. The fillets are breast meat and are slow-cooked in butter and sweet wine from Samos, honey and sesame seeds. The fresh spinach on which the chicken is served balances the sweetness of the dish and adds crunch
15 Ploutarhou, Kolonaki, Tel. +30 210.725.9216. Open daily 12.30 – 0.00, Friday and Saturday until 01.00.
Nolan has been open for just over a year in the area of Syntagma square in the center and has already been awarded Bib Gourmand status by Michelin. Chef Sotiris Kontizas’ dishes are a fusion of Greek and Asian cuisines and are all meant to be shared – there is no distinction between appetizers and main courses. The best for us was the “Crayfish and bogue” (bogue being a type of small fish) – a unique combination of Greek ingredients and international influences both in the seasoning and execution.
The chef uses bogue fillets, meat from small crayfish and small shrimp, marinates it all briefly in yuzu (a citrus fruit originally from Japan) before mixing it with a sauce made from chile verde, soy sauce, cumin, lemon and olive oil. The seafood is accompanied with handmade mayonnaise made with smoked oil, stock made from dried bonito, fresh onions and green peppers and is served between two toasted, crisp sheets of rice paper.
For some it is reminiscent of sushi, for others ceviche, but the truth is that this dish – with its different textures of fish and seafood and the harmony between all of the flavors – simply stands out as one of the best taste experiences you can have in Athens.
31-33 Voulis, Syntagma, Tel. +30 210.324.3545. Open daily except for Sundays 13.00 – 0.00