What beats a breathtaking view of the Aegean or a mouthwatering meal? I used to think this was quite a tough question to answer but then I came across Lycabettus restaurant in Santorini.
Perched at the very edge of Oia’s steep cliffside with an amphitheatric view of the caldera, this Greek gem awarded with the prestigious Toque d’or (‘Golden Caps’ Greek gastronomy awards granted by Athinorama and Alpha Guide} for two years in a row and named Best Restaurant by the FnL Guide website, combines both.
Lycabettus is part of the award-winning Andronis Suites Hotel and got its name from the famous Athenian hill. The hotel’s terrace looks over the sea from the top of a dramatic rocky formation, offering the best view of the world’s most photographed sunset. Having been named among the 10 most romantic restaurant settings in the world, the establishment presents its guests with a mix of traditional Greek and Mediterranean recipes fused with elements of nouvelle cuisine at the hands of chef Pavlos Kyriakis.
Exceptional quality food is prepared with care and organic ingredients mainly sourced locally by Kyriakis and his topnotch team. There is limited seating available, only six tables to ensure patrons get to truly enjoy this indulgent experience with gentle lighting, candles and subtle music playing in the background.
Lycabettus offers dinner á la carte, or the option to go through the long strings of its superlative tasting menu and extensive wine list, which features well over 100 varieties, both local and international. The menu and wine list were praised by National Geographic Traveler this year, while Michelin would gladly decorate the restaurant with a star – if they covered Santorini that is.
An experienced sommelier visits the tables taking the patrons through the island’s winemaking history exhibiting some of its specimens of unique quality attributed to the volcanic soil. The service has also been highly rated with staff being at each table’s disposal, offering different selections of freshly baked bread and olive oil to go with it.
Tantalising bite-sized starters are served on volcanic stone, but the quantity is more than enough to quench any hunger. The inspired mains arrive placed stylishly, theatrically even, on the plate – cooked to perfection in the most intrinsic way that allows you to taste every single ingredient, while dessert is preceded by a palate cleanser.
Our suggestion would be to dive into the discovery menu, a tasting menu entitled A Cycladic Journey, perfectly encapsulating the traditional Santorini cuisine experience:
It starts with Greek salad canapés with Santorini cherry tomatoes, air baguette with bottarga, cod croquette with capers and continues with sefoukloti, a traditional pie with greens from Naxos. Next comes Lycabettus’ much hyped tomato soup, a smoked soup actually, with cucumber salad, marinated sardines and tomato confit bruschetta. The entrees continue with a taste of sea urchin, served fresh with traditional couscous, fennel, tomato confit and ouzo followed by the sea fricassee with bottarga and avruga.
Moving on to the mains, chef Kyriakis has created an extraordinary rabbit dish, matsara, featuring rabbit cooked with red wine and San Michali cheese.
The lamb revithada is another local culinary treasure which translates into lamb fillet and neck cooked with traditional chickpea puree and cherry tomatoes.
A citrus sorbet will cleanse your palate before dessert, which for this tasting menu again focuses on local recipes.
Santorini’s famous white eggplant is presented in a unique way: paired with crumble carnation, the eggplant is turned into mousse, topped with almonds and yoghurt ice cream.
Kyriakis has also taken the classic karydopita (walnut pie) from Sifnos and bathes it in chocolate, cherries and the traditional Santorini Vinsanto wine.
Last but not least come the mignardises: tiny pastries and sweets, almost miniature-sized tarts with seasonal fruits and seeds.
Starter options on the Lycabettus menu include:
• King crab with passion fruit, watermelon radish, avocado, lime, turnip and passion fruit gel
• Scallops sauteed with pea mousseline, smoked pancetta, peas, mint and lemon gel
• Gazpacho smoked soup with cucumber salad, homemade burrata ice cream and tomato confit bruschetta
• Lobster with Santorini fava, green asparagus, avruga, jalapeno citrus and lobster broth
• Sea bass tartare with blood orange gel, salicornia, lime and watermelon radish
• Langoustine with kaffir lime, coconut milk, white balsamic and crunchy green beans
This year’s awarded list of mains features:
• Red sea bream with couscous cooked in Norway’s lobster broth with smoked Greek salami
• Grouper with oysters, fennel puree, baby fennel and Assyrtiko wine sauce
• Black Iberian slow-cooked pork belly, pork tenderloin with oyster mushroom, onion tart and truffle
• Short rib cooked 48 hours sous vide, served with a variety of carrots, ginger, carrot puree and grape must sauce
• Sous vide cooked chicken breast, Jerusalem artichoke puree, salsify, couscous with jamon and lemon
Must try desserts:
• Three textures chocolate aka milk chocolate namelaka with porcini, bitter chocolate sponge and white chocolate and saffron ice cream, liquid lime gel
• Banana cream cheese and apple siphon, cacao crumble with tonka, apple glass and banana black sugar ice cream
• Yoghurt cake served warm with caramel miso ice cream, mango sauce, ginger and almond tuille
If there is one warning to be given this is it:
Make sure you are well prepared to climb 100 steps to the Adronis terrace. It’s also not the most economical eatery on the island, but it is the best money can buy without a doubt. Other than that, it is highly unlikely you won’t be satisfied with the variety of the menu, let alone the execution.