Sunday, September 21, 2014

Dinner at Spondi, the top gastronomic restaurant in Athens, if not in Greece

Heading out to Spondi tonight in Athens, living a Travelife.
Spondi is the city's top gastronomic restaurant.

For our last dinner in Greece, living a Travelife, it was just fitting that we went to Spondi, one of only two Michelin two-star restaurants in Athens.

It's also the city's reigning gastronomic restaurant.



Greece doesn't have a Michelin three-star restaurant at the moment, so Spondi is as high and as fine as you will get, if you want a restaurant based on rankings.

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OPERA OR DINNER?

Actually, for this last night, our choices were to attend the opera tribute to Maria Callas at an amphitheatre right under the Acropolis, or to have dinner in Spondi.

It was a really tough choice, but the stars aligned and pointed us towards a gourmet experience, and we were not at all disappointed.

AN AL FRESCO DINNER
ON A BEAUTIFUL SEPTEMBER EVENING



Spondi is a lovely restaurant located in a semi-residential neighbourhood of Athens.

In the winter, diners eat indoors in a rather glamorous venue with eclectic interiors.

But on a fine night like tonight, at the end of summer and the start of autumn, everyone ate in tables in the terraces, and the place was full.

SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE



The menu at Spondi is not extensive, but it has enough variety to please everyone. There's also a tapas degustation menu and a gastronomic tasting menu for those with big appetites.

Both set menus were very good value.


By local standards, Spondi is definitely a pricey upmarket establishment.

But by international standards, it's a very reasonable place for dinner.

In fact, it's probably one of the most reasonably-priced Michelin two-star restaurants in Europe, so this is definitely the place to go if you wish to try a two-star restaurant on a budget.

CREATIVE DISHES



The food is very good and creative.

Like with other Michelin-starred establishments, Spondi observes an elaborate ritual for dining.

This begins with an amuse bouche, and includes a palate cleanser between fish and meat courses, a pre-dessert and an apres-dessert.



We shared three appetizers to start, including a delicious carpaccio of sea bass and Spondi's version of poached egg with truffles and bacon, cooked at a constant temperature for one hour.



SHADES OF JAPAN,
AND AN EXCELLENT LAMB DISH

Then, unable to decide on main courses, we order one scallop dish and one lamb dish instead, and shared these.

The scallops were especially creative, as one side of the plate had two scallops that were cooked, while the other side had chopped raw scallops topped with a wasabi sorbet, and everything was swimming in a broth of soy sauce and herbs.

If you're thinking shades of scallops sashimi, you're probably right.


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MY FAVOURITE DISH

Meanwhile, the lamb shoulder turned out to be my favourite dish.

I usually only ever order rack of lamb as I so enjoy the meat on the bone, and I've not found a shoulder of lamb to wax rhapsodic about in recent memory.

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However, this dish at Spondi, made with milk-fed lamb, was cooked to perfection.

Being the shoulder of the lamb, it was lean rather than fatty, which is something that usually puts me off.



But in this instance, I was in heaven, especially as the chef served it with his version of a milk rice pudding so that I actually was able to eat lamb with white rice in Europe for once.

WHAT A SURPRISE



The desserts, too, were extremely creative.

Again, we chose two desserts and shared. We had a salted caramel dessert and a poached peach dessert with a very strong peach sorbet.



Once more, I am not a fan of fruit desserts in general, and I will always choose chocolate or caramel over fruit in the menu. 

But, very interestingly, this refreshing dessert of poached peach in a peach foam, accompanied by a tangy peach sorbet, won me over completely.

A GREAT FOODIE EXPERIENCE


The verdict?

Spondi is a wonderful experience for serious foodies visiting Athens, especially if you're eager for a change of scenery after having your nth Greek salad and moussaka.



It's also one of the prettiest gourmet places in Athens, in case you're looking for a venue for a special occasion or a nice dinner date.

As for me, it was the perfect way to end a lovely holiday consisting of two weeks of fun in the Greek sun, living a never-ending, and never-endingly eventful Travelife.






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