Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Hytra, Athens ( * )

Hytra  means terracotta vase, a utility object from ancient Greek times. Opened in 2004 in Psiri, in the historical center of Athens, then moved 8 years after to its current location on the sixth and seventh floor of the Onassis Cultural Center. It holds a Michelin star since 2010.

The restaurant looking over Syggrou with views from the upper floor to the Acropolis, the Lycabettus and the Athenian skyline offers classic Greek cuisine with modern techniques, reaching to the molecular gastronomy field.

The head chef Tassos Mantis after being the sous chef of the 3 Michelin star Hof Van Cleeve restaurant of Belgium, took over from Nikos Karathanos in 2014. The decor is modern in earthy colours with yellow lights and a big bar in the center of the salle which is separated in half from a glass wall.    

There is an 8 course menu, a vegetarian one, a 14 course and the a la carte option. We went with the first.

We started with Spanakorizo, a thin rice cracker with spinach, dill and lemon. It was tasty but didn't remind me of the casual Greek food spanakorizo or rice with spinach cooked in the pot.

Beetroot, walnuts, yogurt and rocket flowers was a piece of beetroot that was firstly placed in a dehydrator and then slightly cooked having interesting texture and earthy nutty flavors. We were suggested to place it the vinaigrette that was placed in the big bowl. The roasted walnuts added more texture to the dish although I found the acidic vinegar to be a bit overpowering.

Bread came very hot on a piece of wood with extra virgin olive oil infused with oregano, some thyme and fleur de sel. Simply amazing.

Our farm's egg, salsify wild mushrooms and acorn scented mushroom consome. A poached egg on top of lightly cooked salsify pieces with amazing mushrooms was overall very aromatic and had great flavor. The rich consome worked very well with it.

Quail, spelt wheat, chestnut, fresh truffle and xinotyri from Naxos island. A nicely cooked juicy piece of quail breast (I would guess sous vide) with spelt wheat cooked like a risotto. The raw chestnut adding some texture, the apricot some sweetness and the xinotyri took the place of Parmesan. If I hadn't tried this dish I wouldn't believe wheat could be that tasty.

Back to roots, rooster with celeriac, parsley root and burdock. This dish was the star of the evening. Two pieces of perfectly cooked rooster breast (again I would guess sous vide), the meat having remarkable flavor and was accompanied by a row of good preparations. Shiitake mushrooms, intestines in pannacotta form, burdock puree and celeriac pieces. Chicken, let aside rooster, is hard to cook and because it is one of my favorite meats I have tried it in many restaurants some even being 3 Michelin starred and I will easily say this one was one of the very best.

Yogurt, honey infused with chamomile, walnuts and bee pollen. yogurt was made in different forms, as pannacotta , icecream and crunchy bites. This was pretty refreshing but the portion was very small, so it was more like a predessert rather than the full dessert.

Traditional ''Loukoumi'' scented with fatourada and Marshmallows with pine flavor were presented in a tin nice tin box of Suchard chocolates.

Wine was a bottle of Kikones Estate from Thrake, made by the Chianti Italian grape variety, Sangiovese.  A full bodied, great full flavor wine with medium tannins that I will surely go and buy. There is also wine pairing and cocktail pairing with each menu.

Besides the regular Hytra Michelin starred menu there is also the ''Hytra Apla'' choice. Started 4 years ago it is a collaboration with the famous Greek chef Chrysanthos Karamolegos and consists of casual street food made in a high level at friendlier prices.

The service was very very friendly, attentive and relaxed. Of course I would suggest this restaurant for anyone who wants to taste modern Greek flavors with good quality ingredients that are skillfully prepared and presented. A drawback might be the title of the menu, which is not an 8 course menu but rather a 4 course with two amuse bouche and 2 mignardises.

For further information and prices you can look at hytra's website