The Return of Café Boheme, an Athens Classic

Fourteen years after opening on Omirou St in Kolonaki, the atmospheric Café Boheme bar-restaurant, with a loyal following amongst a sophisticated Athens’ clientele, reopens in a different location with fresh décor and a new attitude. 

Since my mid-’30s and until it closed, within a few months of the pandemic hitting planet earth, Café Boheme was my stomping ground, a hangout where I felt I belonged to a vibe, a tribe, and a lifestyle. It was then a small and super-cosy, dimly lit and polished little place where the DJ and sometimes live acts kept us dancing closely till the wee hours, as we chomped on truffle pizza and sipped great wine. Always beautifully decorated with pink liliums on each table and immaculate seasonal décor for themed parties usually organised by co-owner Cassandra Wagstaffe, with her mother Alison Wagstaffe’s beautiful paintings decorating the walls, it made every one of its customers feel at home.

But its dinky size and lack of outside seating areas made it impossible to keep hold of in the face of a global pandemic, so owner Dimitris Manolakis and his team, including his daughter Maria who helps manage the place, looked for more open horizons. Within a year they got to work on an elegant neoclassical building, formerly the well-known Barbayiannis establishment, to create a new Café Boheme. With high ceilings and colonial-style fans, stone walls, a long glossy bar and a long monastic bench indoors, and tables dotting the wide pedestrian street outside, they’d found the perfect new spot. Almost immediately, new customers came to discover it as much as old clients ran to re-live the Boheme buzz.

And apart from the warm hospitality and pretty décor of the place, most of its current fans visit for the mouth-watering menu, as the place has gone from bar-restaurant to restaurant-bar. Using high-quality Greek ingredients sourced from top producers around the country, the chef prepares sophisticated (but unpretentiously so) and often wholesome, comforting dishes. The culinary style could be described as Mediterranean – with elements of classic Greek, French and Italian above all.

Pizza in various thin-crust renditions remains a star on the menu, but elegantly prepared and flavour-packed fish, meat and plenty of vegetarian dishes keep everyone happy. My go-to favourites and the tastiest, most satiating foods that I highly recommend are: juicy biftekia (beef patties) with truffle-flavoured mashed potatoes, succulent grilled seabass with boiled greens, a salad with melty goat’s cheese and glazed figs, baked aubergine with tomato sauce and crumbled Feta and grilled salmon with grilled vegetables and crunchy baby calamari. If you’re at Café Boheme with kids, and that’s a very good idea because the wide pedestrian street makes for a good play area too, apart from pizza you can also try the crispy potato ‘rocks’ and club sandwich.

With affordable prices, a charming ambiance, professional service, delicious dishes and an accessible location (the nearest metro is Panepistimio), Café Boheme is likely to become one of your favourite haunts too. Here’s to a new era for a hangout with a special character.

A: Emmanouil Benaki 94, Athens

Opening Hours: Monday to Sunday- 10 am to 2 am

Main Image Courtesy of Bovary | Panagiotis Malliaris 

Relax the Senses at a Cool New Eatery in the Heart of Athens

NOAH Athens

Review by Gina Lionatos 

Since opening in June 2020, the trademark “I love you” fountain at the entrance of Noah has welcomed a steady stream of visitors. Nestled into the side of Parko Eleftherias, the chaos of nearby Vasilissis Sofias is instantly forgotten thanks to the thoughtfully designed space, leafy garden and ambient beats that instantly relax the senses and transport you to a far-away place.

Type of cuisine? At Noah, the menu changes seasonally. During its first summer the menu at Noah focused on vibrant Mexican flavours. The winter menu offers mixed European fare, including vegetarian and vegan options.

Type of eatery? Noah is ideal for a cocktail and a snack any day or night of the week. Dinner in the Noah garden is perfect for a special occasion, date or long overdue catch up with the crew.

The low down… Anyone who lives in the centre of Athens knows just how chaotic the city can be. Just a short stroll from the relentless bustle of Vasilissis Sofias, Noah manages to create an exotic, island vibe in the heart of the city.

Décor/ Ambience? Reminiscent of a Spanish villa with hues of burnt orange and turquoise and rustic accents, Noah completes the summer oasis experience with bohemian exotic house beats and a roster of DJs throughout the week.

Menu? By day, Noah serves up a bright and tasty brunch menu from 10am-2pm. Think avocado toast, healthy bowls, shakshuka and smoothies. By night, the menu is designed for sharing and includes salads, starters, a raw selection, pasta, pizza cooked in a stone oven, and mains. Standouts include the skirt steak salad, occhi ragu and zucchini pizza.

Something to drink? There is a handsome selection of European wines, however cocktails like the rum-based Yo Hoho  or the Jamon y Melon featuring mastic, melon and a surprising garnishing of jamon should not be overlooked.

Order my fave dish? Without a doubt, the beef tartare is fast becoming Noah’s unofficial signature dish. The usual components (beef, egg yolk, onion and seasoning) are mixed to your liking and served in front of you.

Price range? Brunch dishes at Noah are priced between 9-12 €. For dinner, entrees, pasta and pizzas range between 10 to 15 € and mains between 20 to 40 €.

Location? Parko Eleftherias, Megaro Mousikis, Athens 11521. Bookings can made for dinner +30 21 0723 3419

Opening hours/days? Open every day from 10am until late.


The GB Roof Garden Restaurant and Bar

Let’s put it this way: you don’t come here for a ‘great meal’, you come for The Experience.

Certainly, you are well rewarded by both, at one of the city’s most prestigious, elegant and imposing hotels, the Grande Bretagne, which is almost synonymous with Syntagma Square. Then there is the view, or better, oh so much better, views. You can’t help but feel on top of the (Athens, at least) world fine dining at this garden restaurant as you are served by friendly, professional staff under the moon and stars. There’s the Acropolis, lit beautifully in shimmering gold, as if she is posing for you; and there’s the Parliament Square and Syntagma, like a theatre set below you. And lush Lycabettus Hill, with St George church twinkling its lights at the top. Greenery all around and elegance at every glance, in one of the city’s most classic hotspots for the glitterati.

Type of cuisine? Pronounced Mediterranean influences presented in haute cuisine compilations. Flavours are fresh, rich and true to their quality ingredients. Don’t expect experimental or highly gourmet gastronomy, although creativity and finesse are definitely not lacking.

Insights Greece - The GB Roof Garden Restaurant and Bar

Type of eatery? Super-elegant and the ideal place to take someone very special to you for a truly chic dinner.

The low down… This is a classic luxury hotel restaurant and expects you to respect its codes of attire (Evening Dress Code, after 18.00, is elegant and smart-casual. Beachwear of any kind, shorts or flip flops are not allowed). Being a hotel, regardless of its glamorous history and appeal, it does have a slight hotel-feel. But if that’s something you’re not expecting, why go at all?

Décor/ Ambience? Ideally, sit outside to relish the surrounding glories of the Athenian landscape in combination with your beautifully prepared meal. In the evening hours the restaurant becomes a-buzz with a combination of international hotel guests and both local and foreign outside visitors. The ambience is sophisticated, vibrant and chic without feeling heavily so.

Entrees? We tried the Trilogy of carpaccio with sea bass, salmon and tuna with yuzu sorbet and mastiha oil, and Homemade ‘ravioli’ with goat’s cheese, green pea cream and tomato syrup. The carpaccio was as delightfully fresh and zingy as you’d hope, with the flavours from each fish carpaccio remaining distinct, and the mastiha oil was hardly traceable, only adding to the flavour without standing out. The ravioli was soft, creamy and comforting but the flavours were a little blended.

Insights Greece - The GB Roof Garden Restaurant and Bar

Mains? We tried the Lamb duet, grilled carré and slow-cooked leg, with smoked Florina pepper and potato filled with a cream of basil and ‘volaki’ cheese from Andros. This was an earthy dish, with warming, delicate flavours in the lamb and smoked pepper and a refreshing tang from the basil and goat’s cheese potato side.

Dessert? For over five years, the dessert menu here is curated by French patissiere Arnaud Larher, who stands amongst the top 10 chocolatiers of France. We tried the Pistacchio Choux with pistachio cream and crunchy salted praline and the Chocolate Bomb with a hazelnut filling. Both were divine, but (subjectively, as all reviews are after all) I would return to the GB Roof Garden Restaurant again and again just for that row of choux.

Something to drink? Between 2014 – 2016 the GB Roof Garden Restaurant was awarded the Wine Spectator Restaurant Award, and the restaurant’s wine list continues to be excellent. Cocktails are very well mixed too. Try the Guava Martini.

Price range? With an entrée, main and dessert per person you can estimate the bill will come to a total of around 160 € without wine or cocktails.

Location?  Vasileos Georgiou 1 A, Syntagma (8TH Floor).

Opening hours/days? Lunch: 13:00 to 16:00 & Dinner: 18:00 to 00:00. Bar: 13:00 to 00:00

Greek-Asian Fusion Restaurant that Athenians Can’t Get Enough Of

In its fifth year of resolutely holding its status as a trendy, Greek-Asian fusion restaurant with a unique menu of gourmet-style comfort food, Nolan is definitely a place to visit.

Its location in Athens’ Asian food block, where you’ll find several Chinese and Japanese restaurants, is also close to Syntagma square, which has also become a buzzy nightlife spot over the last few years. Nolan thus both adds a rousing touch to the area and makes for a gratifying gastronomic experience to enjoy on the way to some of the coolest bars in town, either towards Ipittou Square near Plaka or in the opposite direction of Monastiraki.

Greek-Japanese chef Sotiris Kontizas is the brainchild behind an unfussy yet sophisticated list of dishes that Michelin has awarded with the Bib Gourmand. The ambiance is modern, upbeat and vibrant, the flavours are memorable and sometimes very exciting, and the service is fast and professional. Since it opened, I have only heard positive reviews about Nolan, for all the above reasons, which I can confirm from my own experience.

Insights Greece - Greek-Asian Fusion Restaurant that Athenians Can't Get Enough Of

Type of cuisine: Greek-Mediterranean fused with Japanese, Vietnamese, Thai, Korean, Peruvian and Chinese.

Type of eatery: Modern and a la mode in an easy-going way.

The low down…Whether you come here on a date or with a bunch of friends, the buoyant vibes, friendly service, decent prices and noteworthy cuisine almost guarantee a great time.

Décor/ Ambience: Bright and airy during the day, this is a corner restaurant with glass walls and tables along both sides of the street corner, looking out at the city’s architecture and passers by and offering a fun sense of urban chic. Diners are of all ages, although perhaps more on the young side, and it’s favoured by locals as much as foreigners.

Entrees: All the dishes here, served in stone-like ceramic dishes with raised sides, are medium-sized portions and as the waiter told us, designed to be shared. Nonetheless we started with the mouthwatering shrimp and anchovy with chilli and coriander in rice paper served as mini-sandwiches and the steamed bao buns with pulled pork cheeks, served with a pear and carrot dipping sauce.

Mains: Try Nolan’s play on fried chicken (Nolan Fried Chicken) which is perfectly cooked and crunchy nuggets of chicken served with spicy mayonnaise and marinated salad as well as a side of dreamy mashed potatoes with chicken broth. The menu changes according to the seasonal ingredients available throughout the year and there are always two to three dishes of the day. We tried the crispy duck with rice, which was indulgent yet light.