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.
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.
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