Friday, October 23, 2009

Alatsi Restaurant (Athens, Greece)

We arrived late afternoon to Athens. We took the train (metro) from the airport to the center of Athens. We were very lucky that there was a metro station very close to our hotel. We stayed at the Hilton (apparently the best hotel in Athens). We walked from the metro station to the hotel. When we arrived at the hotel. We were surprised how the hotel check-in was not as friendly as in Istanbul. We had some issues about checking in and we did not get the room we booked; but that is too long a story to write about.

What was interesting was the restaurant we were going to eat at in the evening.

We read about a great Crete restaurant. It had fantastic reviews and it is considered one of the best restaurants in Athens. We reserved a table from Bangkok before leaving for our trip just to make sure we got a table when we arrived in Athens. What we did not know and was a great coincidence is that the restaurant was only one minute walk from the hotel.

We arrived around 9:00 pm. The restaurant was about only 20% full (Athenians eat very late). The decor was simple, casual and elegant. Mostly wood and white colours.

We started with two glasses of Greek white wine. Not bad at all.

Alatsi is a restaurant that serves rustic & hearty cuisine of Crete. Altsi means 'natural sea salt' in Crete. It is the latest regional food craze to hit Athens. In the Ilissia neighborhood, chef Dimitris Skarmoutsos dazzles with his cooking.

The first dish was grape vine leaves stuffed with rice & accompanied with Greek yoghurt. A nice start to our Crete dinner. Unique flavours and textures.

The second dish was wheat husk with tomato and capers in olive oil. This was a very strange dish due to the wheat husk texture; dry, brittle and course. The wheat husk itself does not have any taste; very bland and dry. The only flavours came from the olive oil, tomatoes and capers. This was not my favourite dish.

The third dish was snails boubouristi fried in olive oil, vinegar and rosemary. A very nice way of cooking snails. The olive, oil, vinegar and rosemary gave the snails a rich and suculent taste. The only issue I had with this dish was that it was dry; there was not enough sauce to keep the snails moist.

The fourth dish was rabbit stewed in wine. An amazingly rich and flavourful dish. I do like rabbit and this dish did not disappoint. The stew was very flavourful with lots of stewed vegetables. The consistency of the rabbit was a bit dry (but that is normal for rabbit), but overall very nicely done and a very good dish.

The fifth dish was pilaf made with rich meat broth and sheep-milk butter. A huge portion that was rich & hearty. The pilaf had a creamy consistency full of meat flavour. An incredible dish.

The red wine to accompany our dishes was a Greek wine; Nostos Grenach 2006. Medium to dark blackcherry colour. Lots of herbs and black berry aromas. Medium to full bodied with hints of olives and truffels.

A Crete dessert. Slightly deep fried dessert covered with honey. Fluffly & light, slightly sweet with the honey.

The service was very attentive and nice. The clientelle was chic & stylish. The atmosphere was cosy & casual. The food was authentic, eclectic, hearty and delicious. A really great restaurant.

Alatsi Vrasida 13 Athens, Greece 11528 phone: +30 210 721 0501

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