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Varoulko at Mikromlano, Greece:
Lefteris Lazarou, the first Greek chef to receive a Michelin star, has created a suite of buildings that encompass restaurants, a bar, a demonstration kitchen, private dining and event spaces and even an art gallery. But I have come to eat and drink!
Scrambled egg mousse was astonishingly delicious and light and spiked with a salty grey mullet bottarga. The mousse was matched with a Tsipouro based cocktail with geranium liqueur-Tsipouro is a clear Greek spirit similar to an Italian grappa made from pomace, the residue from wine production. The geranium liqueur has a rose flavour and is an acquired taste-one which didn’t work for me as a counterpoint to the salt and egg flavours of the dish.
Much more successful for me was the Tsipouro cocktail with verbena, lime and ouzo which accompanied the Ionian Sea bream carpaccio with ouzo jelly. The fish was slathered with wilted greens and wonderful olive oil and the aniseed flavour of the ouzo jelly was witty and unexpected. For me the dish was a classic articulation of the healthy aspects of Greek gastronomy.
Another wonderful manifestation of Greek seafood was the Aegean smoked octopus carpaccio with marinated greens. The accompanying wine was a well-balanced Ketchribari Estate Kechris 2015, Resin, 100% Roditis. This is one of the new breed of Retsinas where the resin is used in a much more subtle way than before.
Red mullet fillet was served on deep fried slices of sourdough, with pea purée, smoked aubergine mousse and tomato and carrot jam. Red mullet is one of my favourite fish and can stand up to the robust flavours that accompanied it. Tears of the Pine, Estate Kechris 2015, Resin, 100% Assyrtiko was another retsina but this time with the Assyrtiko grape from Santorini with its mineral, steely and citrus flavour profile.
Aegean grilled grouper with lemon verbena risotto was one of my favourite dishes with the lemon verbena rissoto being something of a revelation. The wine match was again from Santorini, Estate Hatzidakis 2015, 100% Assyrtiko, but this time unresinated.
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