Matsuhisa Athens, the ultimate summer spot

July 02, 2014
The Athenian Matsuhisa in the Astir Palace resort at Vouliagmeni is the city’s ultimate summer restaurant.
Wine List:
5.0 / 5.0
4.5 / 5.0
3.5 / 5.0

Ideally, one should arrive at Matsuhisa shortly before 8.30 in the evening, so that you can enjoy a dreamlike sunset with one of the restaurant’s excellent cocktails. Your meal can begin just after.

After so many years, Matsuhisa needs no introductions or descriptions. But I do believe it has two important assets that play a decisive role in the wonderful dining experience. First, the place itself, especially in summer, is indeed enchanting… in my opinion it is one of the most beautiful restaurants in Europe during the summer. Second, the service, which is always impeccable, with Michalis Ladas constantly on hand to satisfy every wish and coordinate a well drilled team.

When we speak about such a restaurant, demands are very high. The name alone carries so much weight. It has a distinguished past and the Ioannidis brothers are perfectionists to a degree that is rare for Greek entrepreneurs in the restaurant business. So, I was delighted when I saw the new reduced prices on the menu, because the last time I was there (for my first review, about 18 months ago) I considered their prices to be unjustifiably high for the restaurant and for Greece’s new reality. And my enthusiasm continued as the familiar delights of yellow tail jalapeno, white fish tiradito and salmon karashi su miso appeared on the table with the same faultlessness and that incredible balance and finesse that makes the cuisine of Nobu Matsuhisa so outstanding. But things took a turn for the worse with the hot dishes. The cooking was off and even the celebrated black cod with yuzu miso was overbaked, lacking that marvellous fluffy texture that has made it one of the foremost fish dishes in the world. Not to mention an appetizer that was so dry I found it hard to believe I was at Matsuhisa! In other respects, the rock shrimp tempura had the old problem of the creamy spicy sauce removing any trace of crispiness and airy texture from the shrimps, while the only hot dish of a really high standard was the sublime foie gras gyoza (a type of steamed dumplings). Even the sushi was not up to the standard to which Matsuhisa has accustomed us.

Among the pros this year is the more reasonable pricing (about 20% down compared to two years ago), while cons include cuisine of a somewhat lower standard. But, a reduction in prices should in no way excuse a decline in quality. And I am speaking generally, not only with regard to Matsuhisa. 

Scoreboard Key
0 - 3
3.5 - 4
5 - 5.5
6 - 6.5
7 - 8
Very Good
8.5 - 9
9.5 - 10
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