Byzantium Beach, Tinos, Greece

Second day of the mini-moon, we stayed near our hotel in Agios Sostis and decided to take it easy… for lunch, we walked all the way to the other side of the bay (maybe a 20 minute walk) to Byzantium Beach Club. They had a number of beach beds, a few tables, and a large menu… so we decided to give it a try!

We started looking at the menu, and they didn’t have half of the line items… but we managed to find a pretty good selection to order anyway.

We started with… yes, another Greek salad. Fresh tomatoes, sharp red onion, briny olives, cooling olives… a winning dish.Then, the aubergine, covered in tomato sauce and Parmesan… basically, an eggplant Parmesan – with basic tomato sauce and tons of grated cheese, it was fine, but nothing special.

Then, the grilled sardines… a generous serving, they were plentiful and nicely char-grilled. Again, these were fine but nothing to write home about, the grilling gave them a nice, crackly flavour outside, but they weren’t seasoned with anything more than parsley, and it wasn’t enough. 

Afterwards, I grabbed an espresso to wash it all down, and they brought us a homemade dessert that the waiter said was his grandmother’s recipe. It was basically orange rind in honey, but it was candied and tender while still being slightly tangy… with a nice bit of honey on top- spot on, and delicious. I spent the next few minutes trying to figure out how I could make this at home!

So would we come back? Yes, but hoping that more of the choices on the menu were available during high season, as it was really slim pickings. And everything we ate was fine, but nothing was out of this world… except for the free dessert!

That said, we may come back just for the beach chairs and atmosphere on the quiet bay…

Advertisements

Tarsanas, Tinos, Greece

That night, we tried out a restaurant in town that had many good reviews, and we weren’t disappointed. Tarsanas is located slightly off from the main port of Tinos but still on the water. As it was very windy, they hadn’t kept any tables outside, so we were all indoors, and the atmosphere was lovely. A mix of locals, young and old, along with tourists, some chilled music and great decorations (check out this painter!) made for a great environment.

Andre tried the local beer, which he really liked… And once again, we ordered a feast. We started off with some grilled, local cheese (not haloumi) that was served with a delicious tomato jam (the jam was more revolutionary to us than the cheese, but both were good).

Then, a good classic, a Greek salad, which as you can see was served to us in a HUGE bowl… again, after these two dishes, we would have probably had enough to eat. But no, we ordered on…

The grilled, local sausage. This was also a generous portion, as we were expecting maybe a 1/6 of this. It was nicely grilled, had the same texture as a saucisse de Toulouse but a taste closer to a Corsican figatel. A mix of Andre and I, go figure 🙂 We managed to eat this whole plate.

And then, some fresh fish (again, we thought that we were under-ordering by just getting starters…) The fish was very fresh and perfectly cooked… but the real winner?

The accompanying rice, mixed with dill, charred spring onions, and probably a lot of butter. It was delicious and addictive. Even after everything else that we ate for dinner, we managed to wolf down this rice… and I can’t wait to make it again at home! What a great meal…

Elia, Tinos, Greece

After a great few days in Mykonos, after family and friends had departed, we newly weds headed to Tinos, a neighbouring island, for a few days of R&R. Very different from Mykonos, Tinos is quiet with fewer restaurants, bars and even hotels… and much more open space. We spent the few days swimming in the sea, napping, eating and hiking.

Our first lunch, we headed near the hotel (a 30 mins walk) to Elia, a restaurant that is near the water but back a bit from the beach.

It’s a lunch place that has a pool, but it doesn’t look like anyone uses it, as there are no beach chairs or parasols anywhere…

We ordered a feast… first of all, a chicken salad, which had quinoa, corn, tomatoes, and lettuce in it… in a nice, creamy sauce. This alone could have made for a complete meal, but we were ordering with our stomachs…

Next came the fava bean puree, a favourite of mine. Topped with caramelised onions that broke up the creamy taste of the puree, this was as good as expected… but a much larger serving than expected!

Then, the feta wrapped in filo dough and drizzled with sesame seeds and honey. This sounded a lot better on the menu than it tasted. The feta wasn’t esepcially salty and the honey wasn’t especially sweet or tasteful… so the whole thing tasted kind of…blah.

And the zucchini fritters, which we wanted to try after having had the ones at Hippie Fish and loved them! These were okay, compared to at Hippie Fish, also served with tzaziki on the side… but my guess is, they had no feta mixed into the fritters themselves (maybe this is what really made the taste for the ones at Hippie Fish), and the zucchini and egg mixture on its own wasn’t especially seasoned, so we were left with a veggie eggy mix that was just… okay.

Overall, it was a lot of food, but none of it was great. We still made a pretty good dent in each dish, though, as we sat and tried to plan our route home along the coast.

Right as we were paying the bill, the waitress came out with something much better… their chocolate cake (and for free!) This was as chocolately, moist and decadent as it looks… a total winner! I would come back just for the cake!

Hippie Fish, Mykonos

Back to Mykonos and back to Hippie Fish for a meal – they were still closed when we came by in May, so this is the first time this season, and they’ve switched up their menu somewhat.

Luckily, they still have their king crab papardelle (whew!) but also new dishes… The seafront view hasn’t changed, though 🙂

The first and best new dish is the griled octopus. Last year, they would cut up the leg into small rounds that were grilled… and just okay. This year, they’ve kept the legs intact and let it caramelise on the grill… the flesh still has a little bite to it, and tastes really sweet…

I liked it so much that over the course of the week that we were in Mykonos, I ordered this octopus leg every single time that we had lunch at Hippie Fish (which was at least three). Once, I just had the octopus for lunch.

Then, the seabass ceviche, served with sweet potato. The seabass itself was nice, but I found that the rest was a bit too much… too much sweet potato puree, which didn’t work well with the ceviche liquid, it all mixed together into a mush… too many onions sprinkled on top, that hadn’t been treated (usually, they’ll soak them in water for a bit to take the initial bite out)… so overall, it was just ok.

Then, the zucchini dumplings fritters, which were new to the menu and a real winner. A mix of grater zucchini, feta and egg mixture, they were generous with the fresh zucchini, so this was basically all you can taste, with a bit of creamy feta binding it together. Served with a tzaziki dip, this was a light, lovely dish.

And the spinach salad, served with tomatoes, soft cheese and local, cured ham. I thought that the soft cheese would be the kind that is typically crumbled over the top of a Mykonian salad, but it turns out that it was slices of cheese that didn’t have much taste. The ham was also “fine,” though Andre spent the meal trying to decide if it was really ham, or maybe some kind of fish carpaccio? (not a great sign). This salad was just fine with its balsamic vinaigrette, but I wouldn’t order it again, given all of the other options on the menu.

And there we are! After a long lunch and snooze on the couch, we sat and watched the sun set for our first night in Mykonos and what was going to be the best week of our lives!

Ceru, South Kensington

A rainy Saturday in London, and we popped into a new restaurant that we’d noticed on Bute Street in South Kensington. The last time we’d walked by, the restaurant was jam-packed with people… so we made a note to come back another weekend. Easter weekend, we headed on over to give it a try.

The menu is a mix of what they call Levantine food, basically a pan-middle eastern (from Turkey down to Israel, Syria and Palestine, as well as Cyprus… ) variety, divided on the menu into dips, salads, then by protein or vegetable.

We started with the spiced cauliflower salad, served with pommegranate seeds, spring onion, and walnuts. The combination of the ingredients was nice, but I found that the large pieces of cauliflower didn’t have much taste (or this spice that was mentioned…), so unless you piled on the spring onion, parsley, walnut and spring onion, you just had some cauliflower with not much taste. But pile on the rest, and it was a nice combo.

After this came the fritters, zucchini and feta fritters served on top of a mint and dill yogurt. This was a lovely little dish… the feta in the fritters was strong enough to given the fritters real taste (sometimes with a fritter, you get the texture of some kind of patty, but aren’t really sure what’s inside)… here, you tasted salty, creamy feta with the stringier texture of the courgette. With the lightly flavoured yogurt sauce underneath, it was delightful.

Then, the shakshuka, which was the reason we were there in the first place 🙂 What I liked about it is that its less tomato-ey (maybe fruity?) than most shakshukas, and much more smoky… which I appreciated. To the point that we sopped up all of the leftover bits of the sauce, once the eggs were done. (And, by the way, with some lovely, fluffy pita bread that they served on the side).

After that came the aubergine, roasted with chermoula and served with an herb yogurt and lohz. This dish was unexpected… in the way that the cauliflower had less taste than expected, the aubergine had more. Tenderly roasted, it made a great base for the yogurt and nuts. (By the way, the lohz, as I had to look it up, is roasted nuts mixed with sugar and spices, then sprinkled with some lemon juice and salt. Think of it like having some spiced, candied pecans on top of your food.) Anyway, the lohz was a real winner with the aubergine and yogurt.

Then came the kofta… it was really nice, spiced beef with edamame beans and caramelised onions mixed in… very fragrant and the edamame was a nice addition! All on top of a tartar sauce that was more yogurt and less relish… I really enjoyed this dish!

So my thoughts overall? It really depended on the dish, some were real winners while others were a bit more boring… I wouldn’t rush back here, but it will definitely make it into the local brunches list for when we need something a bit different!

Viet Food, Chinatown

A chilly  day in London and the favourite Vietnamese is closed for renovations… what are we to do! We head into Chinatown in hopes of finding another place with pho. Viet Food looks good and quite modern from the outside (and inside!) and also has a prix fixe lunch.

So we order like always, I get the chicken pho as my main and the salt and pepper chili tofu as my starter. The main came first… my pho, which had a very perfumed and delicately spiced, with poached chicken and lots of herbs… a real hit!

The, later, my appetiser, the tofu, which was served with lots of chilis, onions, lemongrass and spring onions… the veggies were better than the tofu itself, which had quite a thick layer of fried… well, it really tasted like cornstarch. So not great. Next time, I’d maybe try a fried squid or something else.

But overall? Quite good. I would be back… but I already like the place next to our offices, the local. So until they change… I probably won’t make it back here.

Ginza Onodera, St James

Quick catch-up with my old colleague, Rebecca. We always go for sushi, and typically head to either Kiku (right next to our old office), or sometimes to Sake No Hana, but wanted to try a new place this time, and Ginza Onodera, which is quite pricey for dinner, had a good lunch deal, with three courses ranging from £23-35, depending on what you choose as a main course.

The first thing I noticed is how pretty all of the dishes are… each delicately organised and presented. A for presentation!

I started with the spicy tuna tartare, which was small but quite nice, served on a shiso leaf with a few garnishings that were all edible.

Rebecca went for the black kanpachi carpaccio, just to switch it up… and was very happy with her choice!

Then, I went for a tempura course, which I somehow forgot to take pictures of… this was good, but like mixed tempura (vegetables and prawn) in any other Japanese restaurant… nothing to write home about.

Then the sushi and sashimi plate… again, quite like any sushi bento you would find for lunch in a sushi restaurant, but the quality of the fish was much better… and how prettily is it displayed?! Six pieces of sashii and five nigiri was just right…

Finish it off with a miso soup to digest, this was a perfect amount of food! For £28, this was a good lunch deal! I’ll definitely come back to try some of the other options on the menu, as everything else looked good as well!