Thessaloniki: a Radikal experience on the outskirts of Ano Poli
It was a Sunday afternoon meal that makes you remember why Greece — and Thessaloniki, with its view of the sea and its breezes — is so easy to love. Lunch at Radikal, outside on the patio, is a relaxed affair, despite the restaurant’s seemingly bourgeois atmosphere and dishes.
It was rather early and that's why we had no difficulty securing a table at the patio outside. Other diners were there, gradually transitioning from morning coffees to a more leisurely lunch, while their children walked around or played across the street, more antsy than their parents.
We ordered a bottle of rosé for 12€, which was quite the deal considering a glass of wine is 4€. It arrived in a cooler and stayed chilled throughout the meal, which was welcome against the bright sunlight. The wine was light and a bit dry, and it complemented the vegetable dishes we ordered. Many dishes were already sold out or were no longer being offered; note too that the menu is entirely seasonal, so what is available now might not be in a few weeks. However, the essence of it, which was the high quality of the dishes, will remain.
A salad of broccoli, cauliflower, peppers, and radishes was tossed with a bacon dressing and topped with a dollop of yogurt. The vegetables retained their crunchiness and were bright, tasting more of spring than winter despite the use of winter produce. A beet salad was vibrant magenta and cut with vinegar. Goat cheese tempered the tang and a sprinkling of pistachios provided a textural contrast against the soft beets.
Feta rolled in “a cereal crust”, sesame seeds, and nuts was fried and served with honey and pistachios. It tasted, as my friend said, like the better, Greek version of mozzarella sticks. The fava came topped with cherry tomatoes and scallions; the bread provided was perfect for scooping. And then the bright orange insides of the carrot keftedes, small fried balls of carrot, served with a yogurt to swipe them through, were another call to the bright colors awaiting diners in spring.
Though the old city walls obscure a view of the sea, the location is still preferred because of the low numbers of people up on top of the hill. Walking up to Ano Poli is well worth the trek, and diners will be rewarded. The meal at Radikal was well-suited to the weather of the day, easy and light, a welcome respite from the heaviness of winter. The trees and buds are not the only ones waking up to spring — the palate is too.
Note: At a previous meal at Radikal, I had the opportunity to try the skoubri, orzo with shrimp, cheese plate, mushrooms, and pork chops. All were delicious, and though the menu will change, the meat and seafood section of the menu is also worth sampling from.