Solo Gelato, Santorini 07-2020

After the relatively disappointing flavours at Kayak, I found the familiar name of Solo in Thira. Given we were planning the 30min walk from Imerovigli in the 27C heat, it was a nice end point to aim for. I had tried them before in Corfu ( and thought they were fine. We passed a store selling Kayak during the walk, and happily bypassed it to go the final 10mins.

€2.5 for a single scoop or €4 for a double. Pistachio was mild but good, coconut was thick and delicious, banoffee was really sweet and slightly artificial tasting, and there was another tried that I can't remember. It all melted quickly all over the floor as the cones were filled but one was cracked. However it's a good safe bet on a summer day (or any day for that matter).

The Athenian House, Santorini 07-2020

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.

Let's Eat, Santorini 07-2020

When you have a private sunset jacuzzi, what should you eat for dinner to enjoy the view? Gyros. The least romantic but also most delicious meal to complete the Santorini experience came in Imerovigli courtesy of Let's Eat. It isn't a great name but the reviews were rightly commendable.

Both the pork and chicken gyros (€4.2 each) were delicious, and I actually gave the nod ahead to the chicken on this occasion - small morsels of meat with lovely seasoning. I also got a pork kebab (€2 with a lot of bread) which I thought had a stronger flavour than the pork gyro. We actually ate it again for our final night in the jacuzzi and Santorini, and added a Greek salad (€8.5) to balance out the meal. It was large enough for 2 with a bit slab of feta, even though it is curious to see how much more salad costs than meat.

Kasimatis by La Perla, Santorini 07-2020

After staying in Oia 10 years ago, the prices (which were already high) have not unexpectedly risen even higher. I think the cave house we stayed at was $150/night and now about £250/night. Wow. In any case this time I had read that Imerovigli had a higher setting and therefore better sunset view than Oia. Additionally a sunset private jacuzzi would make it even more memorable, made possible (and affordable) only by the fact that there was 10% of the usual tourists and accommodations were often discounted.

I found Kasimatis to be the most affordable with the honeymoon suite at £196/night down from £250/night. Luck would have it that we were given an upgrade to the junior suite (£300/night) which had an excellent view of the world, although people did have to cross past the front of the outdoor area to get in and out of the place.

Our host was a stunning Greek woman dressed as classic Athenians would have, and very attentive and friendly to match. The breakfasts were collections of yoghurt, fruit, pastries, eggs and more.

How I miss it already.

Geromanolis, Santorini 07-2020

After leaving a few beachy days on Perissa, we were headed to the sunset glory west side toward Imerovigli. Enroute I wanted to visit some small towns of Santorini, namely Pyrgos. After roaming around there, it was a little early for lunch and I couldn't find anywhere too inspiring. Therefore we went to Megalochori to seek out Geromanolis. There's a massive carpark opposite it which is convenient. I had read about the antihristo and was keen to get it, but unforunately the roast lamb is only available Friday to Sunday dinner.

Nonetheless Homemade bread ok.

- Santorini salad €6.5 - Santorini tomatoes with some ruffled green pepper sheep/goat feta and giant olives;
- Moussaka €6 - this was a perfect combination of texture and flavour, with mash, mince, eggplant and potato. Truly the best;
- Lamb chops €8 - given no roast lamb, I had high hopes for the lamb chops. Unfortunately they were under seasoned and cooked fully, which was a bit disappointing to say the least.  

Complimentary yogurt topped with (would never have guessed) zucchini soaked honey was an excellent finisher.

I would gladly go back for the food and prices, although would make sure to save it for a antihristo dinner.

Aris Grill House, Santorini 07-2020

When staying in Perissa, I wanted to eat some grilled meat or gyros. Unfortunately To Souvlaki tou Papou was closed the couple of times I looked, and so the other options were Aris or Gyros Place. Aris has a ridiculously high Google rating of 4.9 (50+ reviews) although Gyros Place seems to be the favourite that everyone knows about. Since Aris is closer, I thought we'd try that.

For a very early lunch, there were no other dine-in guests. There was someone who I think had a very very large takeaway order and so it took 40mins to cook, which is much more than you'd expect for a place like this with no other diners.

Variety of grill €14 was all ok. Pork kebab was nice, chicken and pork shreds with charred sides, sausage was ok. The burger was moist but not much flavour. Only a tiny amount of tzatziki to wash all the meat down with.

I'd try one of the other ones next time.

Kayak Ice Cream, Santorini 07-2020

I wanted to go to Lolita's in Oia, but it is closed on Sunday. The next closest option was Kayak.

Pistachio great colour and little crushed bits but flavour very mild not very sweet, but creamy. Yogurt smooth and a tiny bit tangy. It was really expensive at €3.5 per scoop, but to enjoy the sunset with a gelato is priceless (or at least worth €3.5 each).

Also sold in some cafes on the island but easy to skip if you can find another decent and cheaper one instead.

Ammoudi Fish Tavern, Santorini 07-2020

When we were last in Santorini in 2010, we went swimming in Ammoudi Bay, but in the boat docking area. That was where other people (including older Greek people) were swimming. I don't know why we weren't told about the swimming area around the corner that opens up brilliantly into the caldera while you are in the sea.

In any case after that (probably best sea scenery of my life) swim, it was a choice of where to eat. Ammoudi Fish Tavern is new (since my last visit) and some suggestions online the best of the otherwise similar seafood lot. They did have their octopus drying on display too.

As expected for Oia and this bottom section of the seafront, the prices are relatively high. The fresh fish is enticing although the prices definitely on the high side. The draw is the octopus as per the display.

- Cretan dakos (Cretan rusk, peeled tomato, goat feta, olives, capers, caper leaves, oregano, olive oil) €7.8 - rusk was a crisp base bread and soggy on top with firm cherry tomatoes, oddly squishy structureless olives, capers and even stronger flavour caper leaves. Feta made it overall a nice combination.
- Sundried grilled octopus €17.8 - a little chewy but grilled to a crisp and therefore really intense flavour. I was a bit disappointed over the serving size (as the lady told us it was a serve for 2);
- Seafood quartetto €26 - salmon and white fish were very soft and juicy, the prawns were ok with one very squishy, and clams very small amounts of meat. Saffron sauce a little sweet and served with rice with raisins. May have been better just to pay that money and get something on charcoal.

Overall the food was quality which lessened the blow a little, but still expensive overall for the servings. Once every 10 years here isn't so bad I guess.

pitoGyros, Santorini 07-2020

Oh how I enjoy gyros. I spent a good deal reading online about where the best would be in Santorini, and quite a few places suggested this one in the middle of touristy Oia. It definitely has a higher price tag to accompany the expensive area, but €4.5 isn't too bad (in the scheme of things) and it was excellent.

Crisp fries. Yoghurt sauce. Thick bread. Pork ribbons delicious and full of flavour. Chicken also nice and tender. 

I could have (or should have) easily eaten another.

Metaxi Mas, Santorini 07-2020

Reading online a lot of sources suggest that Metaxi Mas is the best restaurant in Santorini. It isn't the most luxurious or having ocean views, but it is the combination of being inland and harder to get to, popular with locals and Greek tourists, a stunning view over the island and also excellent and not too expensive food.

Usually you would have to book well in advance, particular for July where 1 week is not unheard of. Luckily I booked on the same day due to only 10% tourists coming in this season. It is also quite close to the lovely Open Air Cinema Kamari and so dinner before the movie is a very good (date) night. We did rush the meal a little reading reviews that you had to queue at the cinema for 1h before opening on weekends (which again right now is completely unnecessary). Otherwise it would have been a very pleasant place to sit, shoot the gentle breeze and enjoy the view.

Staff very friendly and have their own inverted faceshield type masks. Different. Unfortunately they didn't have any lamb and Greek lamb is one of the things I would have cherished from a quality restaurant like this. Oh well, can't win them all.

A quality intro of olive oil, olives, mild cheese and bread started things off.

- Santorini baked white aubergines (in tomato sauce, feta, fresh basil) €9.5 - simple and delicious. The top sections were grilled and all edible except the stalk;
- Grilled pleurotus mushrooms (with balsamic vinaigrette, garlic) - very juicy oyster mushrooms;
- Spicy fried pork (sauteed pork morsels finished with wine, peppers, onion, garlic, Santorini cherry tomatoes, feta, boukovo red pepper flakes) €11.5 - pork very tender and full of taste, with a slightly sweet sauce with sumac.

A complimentary slice of sweetness finished us off. How thoughtful.

Even though the cinema is nearby, if I ever go back I would probably go on a different evening in order to enjoy the sunset. Or go in winter when the sun sets earlier...