Funky Gourmet in Athens according to Sydney based meat provedore and food aficionado, Melinda Dimitriades, is a spiritual place rejoicing in art, science and flavour in all its incarnations.
FUNKY GOURMET WILL BE CLOSED FROM JANUARY 2019 AND WILL RE-OPEN IN EARLY 2020 AT THEIR NEW PREMISES INSIDE THE HILTON HOTEL ATHENS
When I first started researching food destinations in anticipation of my recent trip to my beloved Greece, Funky Gourmet was one name that topped the search string, “Best Restaurants in Athens”. You have to walk through a whole lot of subversive Athens before you arrive and the only clue you’ve made it, is when Google maps tells you so, with no signage or crowds bustling out onto the street.
Nestled in a neoclassical building, you are buzzed inside by a young guy at the front door, casually dressed in a t-shirt. The fabulous African-Greek hostess ushers you upstairs, to the gourmet temple above.
Food reviewers are often criticised for focusing on décor and ambience. I reckon it’s like going to church, where the iconography reinforces the beauty of the experience, of the other worldliness of haute cuisine, especially the elevated art of molecular gastronomy.
“Food reviewers are often criticised for focusing on décor and ambience. I reckon it’s like going to church, where the iconography reinforces the beauty of the experience”
Our palates are enlivened with a glass of Duval Leroy, Brut Réserve – “méthode champenoise” of course. Let’s go!
An appetiser of Greek bottarga shaved onto a crisp, compacted filo tartlet, with lime zest, topped with a white chocolate disc, sounds like an odd pairing but works. Here we go, it’s started. The trickery, the mimicry, the fun. Cuttlefish “Oreo” surpasses its reference to a biscuit to another connotation (oreo = nice in Greek). The biscuit is made using the Cephalopoda’s ink, the icing centre made with its poached flesh and served with a mayonnaise, blackened again by its ink. The backbone is used to plate the dish and serves to showcase every element of this wonderful species.
“Degustation menus are exciting in the way they reveal themselves slowly to you. The usual three-hour period allotted to the occasion is like a long service in communion.”
Degustation menus are exciting in the way they reveal themselves slowly to you. The usual three-hour period allotted to the occasion is like a long service in communion. Fast forward to the “Picnic” portion of this 13-part ritual and playfulness abounds. An obligatory gingham tablecloth is laid before us. Morsels of appetiser sized mouthfuls include baguettes with buttermilk butter, “spanakotiropita” (spinach cheese pie), house made cheese, cashews in edible wrapper, mini-pastitsio, soft boiled quail egg topped with a chard of summer black truffle and more. Gorgeous and great fun.
The dishes have typical descriptors but they don’t appear as such. All is not what it seems and the illusion and allusion of molecular gastronomy is in full swing. The signature “Greek Salad” is served as a quenelle of white sorbet with a miniature spade as cutlery. One mouthful and the deconstructed parts of the salad start punching me in the mouth. The tomato, wait, the cucumber, hang on, olives! What a triumph in technique. What fun deconstructing the national dish and putting it back together as a pile of snow with a baby shovel. It’s brilliant.
“What fun deconstructing the national dish and putting it back together as a pile of snow with a baby shovel. It’s brilliant.”
“The Deep Blue” is a dish of classic pairings in squid with bacon consommé. Light yet complex and again playful with an accompanying potato croquette that literally looks like a grey stone you would find at many of the Aegean’s pebbled beaches.
The final savoury course, “The Silence of the Lamb” was perhaps my favourite, as an offal lover. The brain is lightly poached preserving its delicate texture and served on a fine brain purée that is enlivened with the tang of the most sophisticated tasting “avgolemono” (egg and lemon sauce) you’ve ever had. It’s a stand out dish.
Desserts are equal in their theatricality and playfulness; seasonal citrus arrives smoking from the nitrogen on ice and later, a chocolate shaped bomb that has a wick for lighting. We close off our palettes with a red box filled with macarons, caramels and truffles.
The restaurant rightly takes pride of place in Athens, with two Michelin stars and is certainly one of the best in the Hellenic Republic. Perhaps co-owner Argyro Hiliadaki’s study of art conservation is at work here, reflected in the Greek salad and moniker Oreo biscuit. For a deeply religious experience, go get emotional and closer to the Greek gods at Funky Gourmet.
Funky Gourmet is led by Michelin starred chefs and co-owners, Georgianna Hiliadaki & Nikos Roussos. They offer dishes delivered as three multi-course tasting menus.
This article was not sponsored in any way.
Why Athens would like to thank our guest contributor, Melinda Dimitriades for sharing her experience at Funky Gourmet in Athens.