It has been a long time I wanted to visit Botrini's restaurant in Athens. My memories from his restaurant in Thessaloniki called ArtO2 were responsible for this desire. Many of you may know Ettore Botrini from his Gordon Ramsay alike TV show, less from the Botrini project show and even less from his restaurant in Corfu, the Etrusco, which is kind of misleading, because his awkward slash bad fame from television (if bad fame even exists) has nothing to do with the food served in his restaurants.
I had 2 or 3 meals in ArtO2 many many years ago and I still remember every single dish I had. It was that good for the standards of Thessaloniki or Greece or what I had tried till that time, while also great value for money, but time passed and the restaurant unfortunately closed. So my expectations for this restaurant which holds a Michelin star and is priced accordingly so, were high.
The restaurant, located in Chalandri a few kilometers from the city centre, is a whole small city-house with tables indoors and outdoors. The decor in grey colours is minimal with an open kitchen. Tables have no tablecloths, chairs are comfortable and a small light is over each table, making photographing easier. It can sit up to 50 diners while in the kitchens work as much as 15 chefs in full capacity. I also counted 9 staff in the dining room.
There are three menus available for dinner (the restaurant is open only for dinner, see the timetable at the end of the post). The first and smallest is the menu Discovery, then there is the menu My roots and finally the more comprehensive one the Degustation. We opted for the latter.
We started with bread, extra virgin olive oil and fler du sel. Bread was of two kinds, focaccia and semi brown with olives, both very good. Olive oil was from Peloponnese.
The first amuse bouche ''Our own pizza, a trip from Naxos to Corfu 2015'', was a salty biscuit with cream cheese, full of Parmesan, black pepper and spices. Excellent to start the meal.
A savoury macaron presented in a wooden case followed, with wild mushrooms, hazelnuts and 5 different spices, no clue which. Pretty power full taste, a bit chewy but flavor full.
''Egg'' was an egg shaped porcelain with avocado puree, zucchini, egg and spearmint. Again very good.
''Chef's surprise'' was a rice airy cracker with tzatziki, tomato and onions. With all spices and herbs it gave the impression that we were eating pita gyros. Interesting but I found the texture to be a bit unpleasant.
Beetroot in its natural environment, 2012, a dish you could also taste in Etrusco was amazing. Beetroot, mustard, yogurt sorbet and goat cheese snow flakes. A skillfully made composition of temperatures and textures.
''Fish and chips'' was a fried potato cannolo filled with saffron flavored cream and sea bass tartare. Again even though the saffron is overpowering the result was still amazing.
''Illusion'' as you may guess from the title of the dish, the appearance did not much the reality. The main ingredient, the scallop was not really a scallop, but a cuttlefish puree seared to imitate the saint Jacques. It was paired with al dente cooked pearl tapioca, celeriac puree and granny smith apples for added crunchy texture.
Now on to the main courses, ''As Carbonara, from the land and the sea'' a stunning dish. Instead of pasta we had slightly cooked calamari in strips with carbonara sauce, creme fraiche, pancetta, pickles and sea urchin (which I didn't taste). This was maybe the best dish of the entire menu, stunning.
''Fresh fish memories, was catch of the day, a thick fillet of sea bass, on top of almira and cockles, with zucchini in many different textures, steamed, sliced, mashed, in ice cream and dehydrated dust form. The fish had great texture and flavor with gelatinous flesh and crispy skin. Once more this was great.
The last main course was ''Deer Grand Veneur''. Medium cooked roe deer, with the famous red wine sauce, enoki ( I would guess) mushrooms, corn puree and foie gras cold flakes. The roe was perfectly cooked being juicy and tender, the foies gras added a metallic taste while the corn puree was a bit flat, helping the other ingredients to shine.
The first dessert, more like a palate cleanser, ''The submarine of my childhood'' was mastiha spheres with rose water. Very refreshing.
''As a sweet Tzatziki'' was a dessert made for a competition several years ago and being successful enough it is still on the menu. Frozen yogurt, cucumber sorbet, cucumber juice, a white chocolate garlic shaped piece. Very refreshing too.
The last dessert ''Corek a la greca'' was the famous tsoureki in many forms. Dehydrated, mashed, in ice cream and in the middle a mousse with caramel taste and glazed. A very tasty and well executed dessert.
We had a bottle of Italian white wine with our meal, while wine pairing was also available for each menu.
The service was attentive, comfortable, glasses refilled promptly, all dishes were explained and came in a good pace. I really can't find anything we didn't like in this restaurant. It is highly recommented that you visit it.
I would like to visit soon his flagship restaurant in Corfu.
Open from 20:00 till 00:00 , Tuesday to Saturday.