On a recent trip to Athens, Greece, we chose to dine at the Relais & Châteaux restaurant Spondi, which has two michelin stars and serves French haute cuisine with a modern Greek cultural style. It was recommended to me by my friend Bibi, and it turned out to be a truly incredible meal.
Spondi is housed over three floors and the restaurant has a magical and romantic setting, as well as very classy interiors with its dark leather seating and fine linen table cloths. There is also a lovely garden terrace dining area outside which is lit with romantic lights which is open during the summer.
As we were visiting during the winter months, we dined inside in the cosy brick walled restaurant.
There were pretty chandeliers and other lights lining the ceiling and soft piano music played through the speakers, making it really special. On our table was a beautiful gold plate, which was taken away once our first dish arrived, but the mystery of the plate is revealed later on in this blog post.
Spondi was opened by Apostolos Trastelis in 1996. The menu is seasonal and dependent on what produce is popular, and it won its first Michelin star in 2002 and the second in 2008.
There is an a la carte menu and 2 tasting menus – the 4 course “Initiation”menu, which costs €73 per person and the “Discovery” menu, which has 7 courses and is priced at €136 per person.
We opted for the Initiation menu as we had eaten lunch fairly late that day as it was our first day in Athens. The service was slick and as Amit had chosen a beer for his drink, the wine sommelier turned all his attention to me and chose a fabulous Greek wine for me to try.
Even though our menu was only 4 courses, we were given so many additional courses to indulge in, all a complete delight to the senses.
First to arrive was a Beetroot gnocchi with a horseradish sauce which was lovely and light, yes refreshing with tangy elements due to the horseradish. It really cleaned our taste palettes ready for the rest of the meal, and was presented really prettily.
Now something disastrous happened to me while at Spondi – my camera battery died and I could have cried as my iPhone camera quality, especially in a low light situation, is terrible. Luckily Amit had his Samsung phone so I had to resort to taking some photos with that!
What I loved was the way the waiter explained every dish patiently whilst I scribbled down notes and asked him to spell certain ingredients. It also became apparent that the restaurant prided itself on using local Greek produce as much as possible and the waiter would tell us where certain items originated from, such as the extra virgin olive oil from Crete.
The bread basket that accompanied the olive oil, had a generous helping and was a variety of classic plain bread, Parmesan and bacon breadsticks and crispy focaccia seasoned with aromatic oregano.
Then what looked like a pot arrived, with two spheres, which the waiter explained were like croquettes, made from smoked milk. They were delicious and we hadn’t even started on any of the actual menu items yet!
The first item of our actual menu was Crab parcels filled with turnip leaf, acacia honey, tarragon and mango puree and were so lovely and light. I loved the soft textures inside the parcels and the way the various flavour elements complemented each other.
Now I am not a massive fish fan so was unsure if I was going to like the second course. However I was proven wrong and it turned out to be my favourite dish from the menu! It was a Mousse of Grouper served in an onion and wild herb broth. The grouper had a lovely crips crust made from bread, and was garnished with black and white meringue balls. The sauce it was served in was simply dreamy! It was a medley of spinach, tarragon, spring onions and oxalis leaf, which gave it a slight acidic flavour.The grouper didn’t at all taste fishy which is what I was very pleased about. The sauce was a play on the Greek spinach pie and totally worth it.
The third dish on the menu, was a Partridge dish served with foie gras, black trumpet mushroom and a potato souffle. This was both of our least favourite dish as it tasted a little meaty and the partridge was tough.
With the savoury dishes done, we were served a pre-dessert to cleanse our palette. In a wide bowl arrived a green apple sorbet garnished with a pecan nut meringue and sat on a bed of basil and mint puree. It was so refreshing and just what we needed!
Dessert is always my favourite part of a meal, and the dessert at Spondi was really special. It was a fine crust pastry flavoured with soft caramel and fleur de sel and served with a Bourbon vanilla ice cream and on that gold plate! Mystery solved. Utter heaven and just magical!
If that wasn’t enough more treats arrived in the form of coconut, lime and caramel petit fours!
We loved our meal at Spondi and highly recommend it if you are visiting Athens and want a fabulous gastronomical experience. It is pricey but worth it, and we felt that the Initiation menu was actually enough for us as we were really full after it. Even though the menu only has 4 courses, you get served way more than that!
The venue is special and gorgeous and the service is excellent. I loved the ambience and the dishes, and felt it was definitely worth every penny. It had a really romantic vibe and proved to be a memorable meal, even though my camera let me down so please do excuse the picture quality in this post!
For more information on Spondi click here.