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Iliokastro: uniting French allure with Greek roughness at the sophisticated Maryvonne

Dimitris Kossyfas | June 17, 2020
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If you’re a foodie like us, then you probably know about Maryvonne already. If not, then here’s why when you’re next in the area of Spetses, Porto Heli or Nafplion you should detour to Karakassi for an unforgettable dinner!

As we drove about an hour from Nafplio, I was curious to see what Mayrvonne’s restaurant was all about. Certainly, her fame preceded her but as we made our way to Karakasi and finally met Maryvonnne herself it was easy to appreciate what everyone’s been making such a big fuss over. Naturally social and effortlessly smiling, Maryvonne welcomed us to her house-cum-restaurant with great warmth and a genuine appetite to treat us.

Born in Lille, near the borders of France and Belgium, Maryvonne found herself in Porto Heli on vacation when she first met George and fell in love so much that she decided to move to Greece. In 2004, they decided to transform George’s family house into a restaurant and ever since foodies and jet-setters from all over Greece have made this a destination, especially during summer. Whilst she takes care the front of the house, George is busy tending to his big stone-built barbecue where he restlessly grills a series of homegrown premium cuts.

Having arrived reasonably early on a summer weekend night, we were lucky to get all the staff’s attention, as well as enjoy the peaceful porch of Maryvonne’s house. Pondering over the menu (by the way, check ahead before you visit as some specials need a pre-order), we can’t really decide so we go all in. A series of mouthwatering starters such as smoked eggplant, mushrooms in their sauce, grilled sausage, grilled goat’s cheese wrapped in bacon and garlic focaccia bread – oh man! All the while we devour the very tasty home-baked bread which is prepared by Maryvonne herself in their stone-built oven outside.

The music is low and varied, the service is extra good and with the help of great food and some good wine, the evening is such a treat. Slowly but surely, patrons and a lot of regulars start turning up making it a busy night for the staff that operates like clockwork. Maryvonne’s daughter Laura is head chef, making sure all orders are in order always careful of the dishes as they go out.

Finally, the main courses arrive and we’re astounded by the rooster in wine sauce as well as the shoestring fried potatoes, both of which are homegrown and have a much better taste and quality than your average dish in the city. The veal steak is also very juicy with enough fat around the main cut and is served medium rare. We order another bottle of white wine as the conversation goes on and on as ease into the summer night. Maryvonne constantly checks whether we need anything else and makes a hint about their signature dessert, dame blanche!

Essentially inspired by the good ol’ American ice cream sundae, dame blanche is the Belgian version of it comprises of a vanilla ice cream scoop with chantilly cream on top and warm molten dark chocolate. Oh we’re so coming back to this magical place!

Rooster in wine sauce

Veal steak on the barbecue grill

Dame blanche, Maryvone’s signature dessert

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