The Summer Round-Up Part II : Athens – August 2011

Greece isn’t known for its sophisticated culinary palette, but is a fantastic place to explore the traditional south Mediterranean staples of grilled fish/meat and vegetable dishes.  There are some exceptions worth trying if you’re in the mood for a more international selection.

One of our favourite spots in Athens is Prytaneion.  It’s located on a small pedestrian street in the Kolonaki shopping area.  Portions are large, pastas are excellent and the people-watching is fantastic.  Good late lunch spot after a day of shopping.

One night we were craving Japanese food so we paid a visit to Matsuhisa Athens.  This is Nobu Matsuhisa’s chain of Japanese restaurants that are privately owned by the family and not part of the Nobu empire co-owned with Robert DeNiro.  If you’ve tried any of his other offerings then you’ll find this spot very familiar with a menu that has all the staples including the “famous” black cod and jalapeno hamachi. The food is high quality and the prices are typically extortionary – exactly what you would expect from Mr. Matsuhisa.  The location is fantastic – a 30 minute a drive from the centre of the city along the coast on what is locally known as the “Athens Riviera”.   Try to get there just before sunset and sit out on the terrace where you can lounge with a drink and enjoy the beautiful sun setting over the azure Aegean waters before your meal.

Lobster Tacos

Experience has taught us that that nouvelle cuisine and Greek food don’t go together, but on our last night in Athens we decided to ignore our instincts and opted to eat at Blue Hytra – a “modern” Greek fine dining restaurant located at our hotel.  Its unique selling proposition is that it uses molecular techniques to revolutionize traditional Greek products.  Curiosity compelled us to find out if Greek food could be modernized in Athens better than in the other places we have tried.  The menu was appealing in its description of the dishes and the plating presentation was superb.  The quality of the food was very high and the chef put a lot of effort and creativity in his dishes.  The only negative note about this place is that the staff lacks the polish required of a fine dining restaurant and instead exhibits a casual south Mediterranean familiarity that is typical in Greece.

While we enjoyed the experience it’s not something we are likely to repeat.  Call us old fashioned but we don’t feel that a stuffed tomato (gemista) needs to be “transformed” – especially since at the end of the day it still just tastes like a stuffed tomato.

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