We may not be able to get there for Valentine’s Day this year but these restaurants should be bookmarked for future reference.
Romance is certainly a very subjective notion – a luxurious dinner in a stunningly decorated Michelin-star restaurant might be romantic for some, while a souvlaki in a cozy pocket of Athens may be just as romantic for others. In this feature however we focus on the more classically romantic restaurants of the city, and although there are so many of them, the ones selected here are sure-fire winners for a grand majority of Athenian and foreign diners both.
The GB Roof Garden Restaurant
Awarded for its quality menu, sophisticated ambiance, excellent wine list and startling Acropolis views by Wine Spectator, the Grande Bretagne Hotel’s rooftop restaurant (on the eighth floor) is nothing if not glamorously romantic. The menu, created by Sotiris Evangelou and Asterios Koutsidis, centres on Mediterraean cuisine with ethnic touches. Luxurious ingredients and a creative, playful and modern approach offer you a delight that equals the panoramic visual beauty of the Acropolis, Lycabettus hill, the Panathenaic Stadium and Syntagma Square. This is also a great spot for starting your night on a high note for a cocktail and finger foods or nibbles at the roof garden bar.
A: Syntagma Square
Seafood lovers can find an even deeper connection to each other and the riches of the Greek seas at this place. Its quirkiness – from being named after a Hollywood star to calling itself a ‘fish tavern’ while it serves some highly sophisticated and gourmet dishes and even its location in Peristeri, not exactly an area one would think of for dining out – have definitely contributed to its popularity. Here the romance comes more from the exchanges of delighted glances as you indulge in exciting flavours, rather than from the ambiance or decor. It can be fun for a couple to explore classic tastes like red mullet calamari served up in novel and highly palatable ways – such as a carpaccio of red mullet with sea urchin, or cuttlefish with orzo. There is a good selection of raw fish dishes too, including sushi and tartare.
A: Agiou Pavlou 33, Peristeri
Healthy, modern, sea-focused yet delicately indulgent enough to leave you feeling giddily satisfied, the menu is focused on a concept of fine dining that can please most palates. From ravioli filled with pear, aged pecorino cheese, jamon and mushrooms to Black Angus steak or lobster bolognaise and several ‘sharing platters’ you can clink forks over, this place also has a friendly service and cutting edge, warmly rustic yet also edgily romantic vibe.
A: Sina 50, Kolonaki
Located in a beautifully refurbished neoclassical house with deco in warm tones and a fireplace, as well as a lovely garden for al fresco dining in summer, Aleria introduces you to Greek cuisine with a playful and healthy twist. Chef Gikas Xenakis combines modern techniques with old fashioned or classic recipes and local ingredients, offering a sense of innovation and discovery to diners. Dishes such as pumpkin puree with truffle and chestnuts or giant gigantes beans cooked in a red sauce with capers , yuzu and celery are as strange-sounding as they are delicious.
A: Megalou Alexandrou 57, Metaxourgeio
Smart-casual, small and buzzy, this place is ideal for a dimly-lit Mediterranean feast that is as elegant and flavoursome as it is unpretentious. Attracting the city’s high-profile professional crowd in their low-key moments, the bar/restaurant is ideal for talking business at lunch and love at dinner. Dark wood, unique paintings by British artist Alison Wagstaffe covering the walls, tables decorated with flowers and candles and a real sense of privacy amongst the crowd are all romantic pluses at this central yet out f the way place. With a Mediterranean focus, the menu changes according to the season and is loyal to the concept of fresh, Greek and seasonal ingredients. Sample seafood, risottos, homemade thin crust pizzas, traditional dishes with a modern twist and a wonderful wine menu starring some of the best local wines.
A: Omirou 36, Kolonaki