There are a number of reasons to visit the Greek islands. But the cooking is hardly ever mentioned as a reason for pilgrimage. Overcooked pork chops, variations of the same-same gyros, slices of tomatos and cucumber upgraded by a mysterious feat of magic to be called a "salad", bland moussakas that you'll find better in Helsinki or Stuttgart, deepfried this, deepfried that.... tzatziki on everything and non-stop bouzouki in the background.
Look no further. At Aphrodite Garden you will find something far far better, lightyears away from the "feed-the-gobble-up-anything-tourists" clichés at the harbour side tavernas.
Vaggelis Bilibas is a chef, honoured this year by the Hellenic Chefs association "Chef's Club" to be one of the best in all Greece. http://www.chefclub.gr/
Vaggelis runs a Greek restaurant to be sure, but his training and knowledge of classic, international (read: French) cuisine shines right through. My only wish is that he would let it shine through even brighter - and that his diners would start demanding it of him !
So here's what I had:
* Apéritif: a glass of cold (but not icy) Golden Samena, the semi-sweet, rich whitewine that is the hallmark of Samos http://www.samoswine.gr/uk/6.html
* Tomato soup, sooo simple, aromatic, full of flavour, burning hot
* Lamb shank simmered in beer and rosemary, elegantly presented
* Two-cake dessert: a cheese-youghurt cake and a slice of moist sponge cake, both garnished w/ a homemade wild sour cherry compote/preserve.
* Wine: a pitcher of house redwine, served slightly "cellar cool", like a Bourgogne or Beaujolais. It was excellent (I've had several house redwines in Samos that were barely drinkable, so "excellent" knocks your socks off here)
DO_ASK_FOR_DESSERT ! DEMAND_DESSERT !
Because if you don't, the waiter certainly won't offer it by himself - and you'll miss out on something truly fantastic.
The mind-boggling, horrible truth is, that since dessert is not a big thing on the Greek "tourist menu" (yeah, we'd rather take an ice cone on the harbour, stuffed with the industrialized Carte d'Or crap made from skimmed milk powder and E-numbers) - it is considered to be almost rude on the part of the waiter to even ASK you ! I almost fell off my chair, when Vaggelis told me that.
In other parts of the world, France in particular, the dessert is the jewel in the crown ! You simply MUST take dessert, to round off your perfect meal by satisfying your sweet tooth.
Vaggelis Bilibas is a passionate chef with a potential that could take him far on the culinary scene.
Greece is going through tough times these years, and you can feel that as a visitor on Samos too. So I guess, one has to to respect the stiff dilemma of whether a chef should go with the mainstream, play it safe, hide his light under a bushel and do like all the others - simply to secure a minimum of income - OR if he should stick to his guns, be true to himself, spread his wings and trust that his culinary skills and passion for excellence will prevail at the end.
I root for Vaggelis to stick to his guns and unfold his wonderful talent - and I can't wait to go back next September.
The fact that the man is the handsomest devil in the entire Aegean Archipelago (and then some) has - of course - nothing whatsoever to do with my enthusiasm...... ;-)
Own or manage this property? Claim your listing for free to respond to reviews, update your profile and much more.