With accolades such as World's Best 50 Restaurants Discovery, World Luxury Restaurant Awards winners for best Greek restaurant and most romantic restaurant in Europe, it was difficult to choose another place for one memorable meal in Santorini. Even better that it was located in Imerovigli, a short 5min walk from our accommodation at Kasimatis. Even even better was the ability to book this restaurant for a sunset dinner only a week beforehand given how low the tourist numbers were.
The walk from Kasimatis to The Athenian House was a lovely experience in itself, wandering along the whitewashed houses with views of the setting sun glistening across the sea and land. We spotted the Skaros Venetian Fortress as a place to visit the next day along with its precarious climb to the top.
The outdoor setting balcony is stunning and we were given the corner seat perfect for an unobstructed view and photos of the sunset and also able to see the cliffs and houses. Maybe I told them it was an anniversary dinner or maybe we just got lucky as they filled seats next to us first. Nonetheless I'm not complaining. There are plastic shields to protect against the wind. €16 cocktails were a perfect start for me with the delicious one I tried being Anisotis (ouzo, tsipouro & mastiha, cucumber, lime, strawberry & basil) - a light fruity mix with the aniseed flavours mildly noticeable. A flight of Santorini wines were consumed by my other.
The occasion had to be celebrated with the full €120 Grand Anniversary menu. They had a smaller one which had their signature 3 kebab plate (as tempting as that was) but I had to go more sophisticated for this meal.
- Our Chef's Amuse-Bouche - crisp lentils served with a dill yogurt. The brown bread looked good but was a bit dry. The white bread had a less complex flavour and was ok;
- Santorini Bouquet 2019 (Santorini cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, capers, Kalamata olives, Ios goat cheese) - an excellent and fresh combination of goat cheese, peppers and caper leaves making up the flavours. The olives were perfect in taste and texture. Balsamic and EVOO dressed it all;
- Grilled Baby Calamari 2018 (potato "risotto" with crispy onions in dill & citrus olive oil) - soft tender calamari and an al dente potato risotto with dill and lemon. Well seasoned and really excellent;
- Tomatokeftedes & Lobster Bisque 2019 (tomato balls, lobster bisque, basil oil, marinated cucumber & brik) - a thick bisque but sadly no lobster meat (I wonder what they do with it?). The balls were a savoury tomato flavour and touch of acidity;
- The Athenian Fava 2016 (fava selected from local Santorini farms with caramelised onions, chorizo & tomato confis) - the fava mash was smooth and intense with a smoky nutty flavour. Other bits planted there for contrast. This was truly outstanding and blew my mind about what Santorini fava is (yellow split peas rather than your standard fava/broad beans).
The sun had truly set by the time the mains arrived with the little decorative box turning into a lamp and blankets given to shield from the cool breeze.
- The Athenian Lamb Chop Moussaka 2016 (smoked Santorini eggplant, tahini, potato crisps & feta ceese bechamel) - creamy moussaka mash and mince although I couldn't detect (or see) any eggplant, topped with potato thins and fried onion. A delicious tender medium-cooked lamb chop was spiced with cumin and sat on top. Really good;
- or Fish of the Day 2019 (grilled fillet, piccata sauce of capers, green olives, lemon, basil & onion) - Soft grouper with very crisp skin on bottom and a salty caper topping. An acidic salad balanced out the salinity nicely;
- Lemon & Basil Panna Cotta 2019 (coconut milk, lemon & basil jelly & bergamot sweet preserve) - wobbly soft panna cotta with a very basil and tangy flavour that was great. Soft fruit pieces of preserve decorated the sides;
- The Athenian Baklava 2016 (crispy phyllo pastry, chocolate peanut butter, salty caramel & pistachio nuts) - although this dessert reads like a dream to me, it was actually an odd dessert. The pastry was ultra crisp to the point of crushing everything below in order to break through. It seemed too far from the tradition with the modern flavours not doing it justice.
The meal with excellent overall and quite truly the most romantic setting one could imagine. The meal didn't have any extra dishes or anniversary gifts (other than a keyring that all the females seem to receive) and the service was good rather than great (for example some dishes had little or no explanation depending upon who served it, and similarly the wines were served together to drink progressively rather than course by course).
Nonetheless a lovely experience and one I would do again, although it is difficult to imagine a combination of the weather, low tourist season and being back there that would all fall together so nicely.