I was contemplating as to whether to share with you my favourite seafood restaurant in Athens – and possibly the whole of Greece. This is one of those restaurants you want to keep a secret, but at the same time want to share with all your friends.
Anyone who has ever been to Psarades has agreed with me, the creativity of the dishes and the mouthwatering flavours are unforgettable, so I decided I owe it to chef Vassilis Tstatsakis and his culinary team to write about this place, and I just can’t recommend it enough.
Over the last few years, and especially the past five years or so, Athens has transformed itself into one of the foodie capitals of the world. Our Michelin Star restaurants compete with the best out there and, in my mind, surpass many of them as far as taste and creativity goes.
One of the transformations that has taken place is to the traditional Greek taverna. Psarades (Greek for ”fishermen”) is one of those neighborhood tavernas that is a free spirit luxury foodie’s paradise, but would satisfy the palates of modern foodies and traditional seafood lovers alike. While not a Michelin Star restaurant, some of Chef Vasilis’ dishes certainly deserve an award. All dishes are made with fresh local ingredients including freshly caught fish, local plants, edible flowers, herbs, and spices.
There are so many dishes I want to write about, but being a ceviche lover, I will recommend you try everything off the raw menu. Even if you don’t like raw seafood, and especially if you have never tried Greek ceviche, you will be pleasantly surprised. Psarades uses only the freshest ingredients and that really comes through in the tartar, ceviche and carpaccio dishes prepared with the finest cuts marinated in lime juice and sprinkled with a variety of herbs, aromatic oils and spices.
If you’re not into raw fish, there are a variety of other appetizers to satisfy your tastebuds. Ask the waiter about Chef Vasilis’ creation of the day: Every day the chef creates a new appetizer and main dish depending on his mood and fresh ingredients at hand.
Try fava beans from Santorini; grilled octopus served with chicory, capers and vinegar and definitely try the shrimp in Kataifi crust. These are stuffed with traditional Scotiri cheese from the island of Ios, and fresh herbs and a tomato sauce scented with anise.
For the main course, do it the Greek way and go check out the catch of the day. Select a whole fresh fish (yes- in Greece we eat the fish whole – head and tail intact) and have it grilled and simply served with salt, olive oil and lemon. The type of fish served at Psarades depends on what the fishermen brought in that day. The fish is weighed and charged by the kilo – so depending on the size of your group and what else you order, they will recommend the size of fish for you.
If eating a whole fish is not for you (I have seen friends of mine from abroad freak out at the sight of a whole fish being served at the table), then go for one of fillets or risotto or pasta dishes. Try the fried cod served with saffron flavoured mussels or the Psarades house peinirli stuffed with shrimp tails, mussels, feta cheese and vegetables.
I can’t write about Psarades without mentioning the interior. I just love the way they have decorated this place: the combination of the white wood and the blue – green trimmings are reminiscent of the islands of the Aegean, and it’s easy to forget you are in one of the neighbourhoods of Athens.
Have you visited Psarades? Share your impression below in the comments!