Athens: wise Greek cuisine at Cookoovaya
Back in December 2014, the Athenian restaurant scene welcomed one of the most talked about restaurants ever. Five chefs, five friends really, decided to house their dream restaurant under the same roof and create a place where Greek food and the significance of impeccable raw ingredients would speak more about the end result than what the chefs would. And they made it happen!
Housed next to the Athens Hilton hotel, Cookoovaya signifies the good old Athenian cuisine with its chic crowd and a price tag to go with it. The whole concept matured after long discussions of about 1.5 years and a uniform idea that all five young chefs shared. Bringing together prior successes in the Athens restaurant scene (aka Milos, Base Grill, Travolta, Cucina Povera and more...), a solid culinary background and even a Michelin star, the Cookoovaya team was poised for success!
They sourced the talented and highly regarded studio of Chris Trivizas that conceptualized and developed a beautiful, symmetric and honest brand identity. The name was chosen based primarily on the identification of the owl with knowledge and wisdom, aiming to show the deep knowledge of its chefs and their gastronomic "wisdom". On a second level, the name connects the owl –whose vision is excellent both during the day and the night- with eating out in a restaurant, something that can be done noon or evening. The symbol of the logo was inspired by the eyes of an owl, designed in a way resembling the cooking hotplates of a professional kitchen.
Five renowned Greek chefs Pericles Koskinas, Nikos Karathanos, Manos Zournatzis, Spyros and Vaggelis Liakos in one kithcen (open plan too!).
The first time I visited back in 2015, I was shocked by the umami feel of the freshly basked pies coming straight from the kitchen's wood oven! Even the simple things like bread and butter, sprinkled with roe, are so delicious you can't resist from asking for more.
Cookoovaya is the kind of place where the crowd is having fun and enjoys a good night out, and you can tell by their loud voices and the buzz in this long, spacious heigh-ceiling space. If you also enjoy a smoke-free environment then you'll definitely enjoy the back-end of the restaurant; just make sure you book far in advance as the place gets crowded... every single day.
The menu changes with the season and the kitchen is continually evolving. Highlight and (hopefully) all time classics of the menu are: seabass carpaccio with a hint of coliander, radish and lime juice, the infamous Greek salad and the lentil salad with trout. Although they also serve fish for main, you 'd probably be better off trying one of their juicy Porterhouse steaks or the slow cooked rooster over traditional Greek noodles.
And as if that was not enough, when you've enjoyed the hearty portions of this magnificent menu you'll surely not want to miss out on the dessert. The signature dessert is inspired by Thessaloniki's famous bougatsa (phylo pastry filled with custard cream) in a deconstructed version of it, garnished with vanilla ice cream and sprinkled with loads of cinnamon!