Athens, Dining with All your Senses

12/16/2017 07:59 pm ET Updated Jan 04, 2018

Athens, a Holistic Experience

The pulsing heart of Modern Greece is Athens, a city that can represent an overwhelming experience for first-time visitors. If you’ve never been in town before, it’s fair to be advised.

Street art.
Anestiev
Street art.

Athens will dazzle you at first, with ideas and images. It will bewitch you with Ancient sights and sites. And with myths resembling the current lives of Athenians, full of thought and contradiction. Later, Athens will seduce you with light and shadows, with painful contradictions. Finally, it will conquer you, carelessly, but fatally. When the moment to leave arrives, you will only depart after promising to set a date to return.

Athens represents a complete unity that includes every possible color of a complex reality. It’s a ying-yang in technicolor simply because B&W would never be enough. Colors, scales, shades and gradations, color everywhere. Color in the people, in the markets, in street art graffiti.

Color also in the tastes and mainly in its new gourmet food.

Sense Rooftop Food & Bar

In a city where the visual component plays a leading role, where art is very much present in the lives of locals, images could not be of less impact when choosing a place to dine. Close to the Ancient center of the city, across the Acropolis, images flow naturally from the surrounding spaces while perfect snapshots of balance arrive directly from the kitchen.

Dining in Athens.
(Photo courtesy: Sense).
Dining in Athens.

Gazing at the Acropolis rock couldn’t get any better. But it did.

On the rooftop of AthensWas Hotel, Sense Rooftop Food & Bar finds a natural home. There, the expert hands of Thodoris Papanikolaou create a refined palette of color and expectation. It’s a place where all senses get a moment of their own.

Gourmet Athens

Amusing bouches

Papanikolaou lifts the curtain with the most stunning trio of amuse bouche ever combined on a dish. A triptych of childhood memories, a reminiscence of grandma’s kitchen. Simplicity knows how to hide behind techniques reaching the sphere of molecular cuisine. The result is provoking and quirky and ravishing!

Follow the instructions and eat in this order: Start with Spanakopita, next go for Baguette with sea bass and fava mayonnaise, end with Chicken with potatoes in the oven. Three bites in crescendo encompass an explosion of creativity. Taste buds can’t seem to get enough.

Amuse Bouche
Gabi Ancarola
Amuse Bouche

First Things First with Starters

Greek tradition is turned upside down, completely reinvented and revamped. And it is still as inviting as ever confirming that not all times gone were better. Thodoris Papanikolaou’s Pastitsio proves it. This dish of homemade pasta sends your nostrils to another dimension. Just by making it to the table, the woody aromas of minced mushrooms and porcini are a natural match to the creamy bechamel and to the mild Athenian winters.

Fragrant starter.
Gabi Ancarola
Fragrant starter.

The Octopus Giouvetsi, instead, includes a generous amount of gnocchi, clam foam and glorious bites of grilled octopus. In the expected event of not being able to make up your mind, choose both.

Octopus Giouvetsi.
Gabi Ancarola
Octopus Giouvetsi.

Mains

It’s time for the clue question: Meat or Fish? If your mind goes blank and you can’t find the answer, blame the chef. Seafood lovers will adore the Gurnard, an abstract painting made of color and texture including the green from the vine leaves stuffed with rice and mussels, the red from bisque skin, and the yellow from Greek fish soup cream. A touch of white citrus foam and... picture perfect.

Fish dish.
Gabi Ancarola
Fish dish.

Among meat dishes, Lamb describes itself pretty well. Two solid columns of lamb saddle sauté, artichoke fricassee, pistachio, raspberry and sweetbreads cooked in stout beer. Thodoris Papanikolaou reaches pure equilibrium with a sober dish. Extreme class.

Chef Thodoris Papanikolaou taking care of every detail
Gabi Ancarola
Chef Thodoris Papanikolaou taking care of every detail

Sweet Finale

Concluding an intelligent dinner with the same kind of wit could be nerve wrecking for many. Still, seeing this chef at work is nothing but soothing. There’s no doubt each award obtained is a fair recognition. He’s detailed, careful and yet joyful when he creates. Detail, care, and joy are served at your table.

Baker’s choice.
Gabi Ancarola
Baker’s choice.

Sense fine dining is a feast that lives up to its promising name until the end. The new kid on the block is a Greek version of Tiramisù that, like the most precious gem, comes to the table wrapped with extreme care. Open it slowly. Still, it won’t last.

Greek tiramisù.
Gabi Ancarola
Greek tiramisù.

This magnificent dinner is best enjoyed with five different types of freshly-baked bread and an artisan spread made of olive oil and butter.

Sparkling Greek wine from Naoussa paired perfectly well.

Sense Rooftop Food & Bar is in Athens. AthensWas hotel, rooftop. We suggest booking in advance.

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