A proper wow-factor bamboo covered bar in the centre of the restaurant and new barstools have turned Hytra into one of the most impressive culinary settings in town. More importantly, its winter location finally matches its beautiful summer time namesake on the roof of the Onassis cultural centre. Chef Tasos Mantis was previously the sous-chef for legendary Peter Goossens, the patron-cuisinier of the 3-Michelin star Hof Van Cleve in Belgium (no 45 in the top 50 restaurants in the world). Taking over from Nikos Karathanos was never going to be easy but Mantis has very cleverly paid homage to some old favourites in his otherwise new menu. Among them the giant red mullet with its two separate tomato rice sides, basil cream and cuttlefish ink chips, the very tasty encrusted sea bass with orzo, fish roe and fennel and of course the ‘mousaka’.
The tone is really set with the menu’s new entries however. They signify a more exuberant, flamboyant point of view while staying true to the restaurant’s tradition of precision cooking and its balanced use of modern techniques. Dishes like the stunning quail with zea wheat, chestnuts, truffle and Cretan sour cheese show the chef’s skill in combining ingredients, balancing aromas and textures and wowing without being too cerebral and technical. Even the salad was truly unique; ‘The chef’s garden’ combines herbs, vegetables, a selection of edible flowers, all underlined with a perfectly balanced hazelnut vinaigrette and small topinambour chips topped with a hazelnut crème. The only thing I would say as a critique is that the vinaigrette could do with being a little punchier and more refreshing but that’s a minor point. Another dish I enjoyed was the calamari with oven-baked potatoes, greens, fennel and a light mayonnaise with cuttlefish ink. I would also recommend another entrée, the hünkar; the juiciest beef tail is enclosed in a crispy croquette with a velvety aubergine purée and little balls of chilli tomato, which could do with being a little spicier.
Moving on to the main courses, the perfectly cooked rooster with celeriac foam and trompette mushrooms is taken to another level with its liver parfait but doesn’t quite match the quality of the meat used in other dishes. The caramelised pork with cabbage and a potato and leek cream, topped with a Mestovone cheese crisp is a killer combination even if you actually struggle to eat the whole thing due to its intensity.
The amuse bouche and the majority of the desserts did not disappoint either. The rice pudding with pear, peanut crumble and honey ice cream was a particular favourite. The chocolate option didn’t sit well with me in this menu although I did enjoy the walnut ice cream.
The wine list is interesting despite some omissions and Yannis Korovesis overseeing the bar should provide a good standard even though the cocktail menu hasn’t yet been unveiled. I must say though that the cold, watery and burnt espresso I was served at the end did put a dampner on the proceedings.
Taking into consideration the overall service on offer, prices are reasonable and the rich menu de degustation (at €65) does offer good value for money. My belief is that given the necessary bonding time, the Hytra team could aim high and keep up the praise this restaurant is used to.Photos: Panos Smyrniotis
- Phone: (+30210) 3316767 (+30217) 7071118
- Address: 107-109 Syggrou Avenue, Stegi Grammaton & Texno (6th floor), Athens,
- Website: http://www.hytra.gr
- Open: Daily, evening
- Price per person (€)*: € 70-80, in the bistrot €40-45
- * we do our best to reflect the actual price range per-person of a full meal including first and main courses, desert, water and half a bottle of wine or one beer depending on the type of restaurant.
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