Athens: an eclectic and beautifully designed new-age bistrot at Papillon
With all the recent bizz bash around what's hot and what's new in Athens, it's so good to finally visit a place that's here to stay! Eclectic in its dishes, beautifully designed in its interiors and with such an impeccable service that most Michelin restaurants would be jealous of, Papillon in Neo Psychiko has already started becoming a classic.
Located on busy Kifissias Avenue in Faros Psychikou, Papillon is the kind of neighbourhood joint that as you walk in you can't really expect that much. And that's where the journey begins! Elegant, dark colored strokes by the robust team of Minas Kosmidis studio create a cosy and grandiose ambience transporting your mind to a blend of a French American bistrot. Apparent are the details in the two immaculate spaces, the bar (at the front) and the dining room (at the back of the house).
Having recently visited for some quick cocktails and drinks, we loved the space and decided to come back for a proper dinner at the first occasion. Thankfully, despite the weekday evening, we had booked a table at the back which really is a hidden dating spot for the few ones. The crowd all around still resembled the odd old chaps and ladies from the former establishment of Portes but that didn't weathered our mood.
Reading off the menu, we immediately found the prices a bit pumped up (think pasta at ~18 EUR). Regardless, we decided to go big and ordered not only pricey starters but also a bottle of rich and bold red tipped off by the friendly sommelier of the team, Vlassis Theodorakopoulos. Having previously worked for most of the best restaurants in Athens (Spondi, Varoulko and Hytra to name a few), we knew Vlassis would be a safe bet!
The starters arrived and we immediately dug in to the rich steak tartare spreading every flavour of it on the lightly fried country bread that came on the side. A juicy buratta with yellow pomodorini accompanied our red wine quite nicely and off we were ready for some good ol' pasta for our main course. First we tasted the Duck Papardelle, toped with some shaved parmesan and sprinkled with the occasional black pepper seasoning; then came the potato gnocchi with sweet gorgonzola and grilled mushrooms.
Full marks for both pasta to Yiannis Markadakis, the head chef of the team, who remarkably created some bold rich flavours out of some simple yet elegant dishes.
The wine kept pouring in to our glasses as the night went on, with the occasional commentary on the resto's immaculate kitchen prep area (hanging jamon hams and salamis in display) and the odd funky tunes in the background. Desserts arrived and we were swept away by the lightness of the Gateau à la Nougatine! The tiramisu was also good but we started decomposing every bit of it wishing for some more moist and an added hint of espresso aroma!
Definitely a winner and one to visit again pretty soon!