Visiting Gastrodromio in Litochoro and meeting the famous Greek Chef Andreas Gavris was experience for itself. It is one of those days that I will remember for a life. Except learning many things about quality wines, the ingredients of Olympus, and the chef, I also had a lesson.
It is never too late to follow your dreams. Everything is possible.
Self-taught engineer for 35 years, Andreas Gavras expected to be 35 to devote himself to his real passion: the kitchen. His life can be a good plot for a movie ” The secret ingredients of Olympus”. Between us, why is this guy not in a big city? This restaurant would be huge deal in Paris.
When Andreas welcomed me, like a real gentleman, kissing my hand, I knew that this is something above the food. We spoke more than one hour, digging into his beggings. If you are looking for huge story, Mount Olympus is right outside the door, you can continue there. Our chef, is interested in quality, and passion for food, not quantity. He is also interested in authenticity, combining traditional local recipes with modern technology. I tried some of them and they are beautiful but not fussy, inventive but nothing gimmicky.
In the past the chef was cooking only at home, slowly that experience has taken him to other restaurants and hotels. I had to ask when was the moment when he decided to open his own restaurant.
” Exactly 15 years ago. I made one of my first plates, the lamb with yogurt which was famous plate and bestseller during those days. Apparently one of the owners didn’t like it and we stopped to make it. That was the moment when I realized that I want to do what I want and I need my own place”.
I found myself in those words. We all want to be on our own, just unlike our chef, we do not have a courage to do it.
Since 2009 Gastrodromio keeps receiving awards for the best Greek cuisine. Being modest, Andreas admits that people started to visit populary the restaurant after the first award. The moment of recognition. Beside the food awards, the chef also has an award for the wines. I guess that it is his second passion! In the basement, there is a huge wine cellar, with collection of more than 550 wines. With a humble voice, chef is explaining: ” I brought many of them from my trips. Hundred of them are foreign wines and the rest are mostly from the less known Greek brands. A cellar brings a problem when we are in hunt for a new place to rent. “
Talking about wine, we learned that new plate deserves different glass. “People always tend to order a bottle, I do sells bottles as well, but it is wrong. That tradition needs to be broken.The new plate needs new aroma, and another glass of wine can give that spice.” On the question about the best wines, we didn’t get an answer. For him, every winery has its best wine, and we need to try it. He admits that he likes to experiment and to be adventurous with flavors and tastes.
On that experiment, I asked does vanilla and pepper go together? ” Of course they do, everything goes together. People are just not used to try and eat it like that. I mix rabbit and shrimps – you will try it later, and tell me if you like it. ”
The menu describes the courses in detail. Here you wont find secrets, everything is clear. The magic in taste is due to the local products and the ideas of our chef. The one of the first plates of Gastrodromio that became the favorite to many is risotto. However, it is not any risotto you have tried before. This risotto is coming from traditional Greek recipes from Litochoro, the one that Andreas’ grandma used to make, and he implemented those ingredients with the modern ways of making Italian risotto. It is just like one puzzle. A lot of practice and small pieces will make an art piece.
The first thing I remember tasting and then wanting to taste again was a vegetable soup. It reminded me of those soups I ate when I was a child. Indeed, the color might not be fancy, although in my case it attracted me to the dish. A bit salty, but again refreshing. A perfect combination for the warm days. It feels healthy.
Vegetable soup of celery, fennel, lettuce, dill and onion.
The very simplicity of the ingredients lets us be aware of the luxury of not going hungry. Our table is plentiful, festive, playful. The elements are perfect together- hot/cold, creamy/crisp, bland/piquant.
Traditional Greek salad in Gastrodromio version, diced tomato, bell pepper, onion, capers cucumber spaghetti, olive paste, fera cheese mousse, tomato sorbet, parsley, oregano, olive oil.
I’m writing fast, but we’re eating slow, the sommelier Alexios stopping by, chatting about the wines, offering us a different glass for a second plate. This time is going to be something unusual. The coming plate is the famous one. The chef said that sometimes five people order the same dish! Now I understand them. The only thing you could hear is the scrape of a fork against a plate. Maybe an occasional sigh. . This is the richest, most tender, toothsome and satisfying dish- subtle, delicate, earthy, sophisticated. The dish is melting in mouth, creamy and gentle with some personality and like you always hope a risotto will be but almost never is. A truffles give uncomfortable touch, a crunchy one, as a butter cookie, so brittle that it cracks audibly when you press it with your tooth. In a lap, you will go for a second bite.
Greek white “Carolina” rice, nettle, mushrooms, graviera cheese from Crete, truffle aroma and fresh truffles from Olympus mountain.
And Alexios is coming again. Giving us a third glass of wine and the third plate. A mountain chic. I would name it Litochoro. It has a sea food but also the meat. As mentioned, few bloks left, there is a mountain, but less than 10 minutes down, there is a crystal sea. The dish can be biography of the area.
Rabbit meat filled with the shrimps and surrounded with bacon, puree with vegetables such mushrooms, carrot and pickles.
The sauce is made out of them.
In the past at Gastrodromio you couldn’t find fish. It was exclusively about meat. The change came as Russian tourists were asking for fish menu, and one of the rules of Gastrodromio is to give to the clients what they want. Do not take me wrong, this restaurant is not for everyone. It is for people who knows how to respect food, who knows how to eat good, like our chef for confident ones, who know what they want. That’s why you will need to make a reservation in advance and to come to Gastrodromio planned. Those people who are visiting the store by accident are not the clients our chef is seeking for. But let’s go to the last dish…
Slice, and the drama unfolds. Think of a bursting water pipe. You can smell it. My boyfriend is starting talking about this plate, and the table next to us is ordering the same one. I am letting myself to enjoy in silky touch that steak leaves…
Scallop of shell with butter, shrimps, pork steak and puree of radishes
To make this experience complete, Alexios played his role. The manners and service he earned during his studies in England and work at some of the most renowned restaurants. He used to work in Gastrodromio long time ago and again he decided to return. Together with the chef, they are making an amazing team and giving it that upscale class feeling restaurant. If you are visiting Gastrodromio ask him about wine! You can thank me later.
Opening hours: 13:00-00:00. It is non smoking restaurant though during the summer days it is allowed to smoke outdoors. Also it is a pet friendly place.
Gastrodromio “En Olympo”
36, Agiou Nikolaou Street
T +30 2352021300
Ah, and you will not need to wait an hours to get your order or someone to talk with you, Alexios can recognize all possible needs of the client. I would call it the WOW service. So , I am not sure if he could read my mind but he brought one of my favorite sweets on the table!
Baklava made with olive oil, crushed bulgur wheat, side of halva ice cream and sour cherry preserve.
As expected, the royal guard wouldn’t help enough, to make me to go away from this sweet. People around me are chatting, sharing, nibbling and laughing and all my eyes are on the last dish. A sword fighting my companion’s spoon out of the way for the last chunk of baklava.
At the end I said to my boyfriend that we will return. We will bring our family here and all friends to have a journey of Olympus. The explosion of flavors and stories in the back. Maybe all mythology has settled inside this restaurant. The long walks that chef likes to take inside the mountain, at Enipea Canyon, are source of those simple but unusual combinations. I admit, I would never think of them.
Those details make geniuses among us. Other like I am, could be grateful for having a chance to meet them, and you can do it! Map it and make a reservation in advance. It is possible to do it online on their website. Do not be a random person who doesn’t know what he wants! Be aware of your dreams, wishes and plans! Andreas Gavris has his next dream. To open a small place where he would cook only what he has mood for. Gastrodromio is a first step to make you to realize that Hollywood stories exist in Greece, maybe even better ones!
Have you been in Gastrodromio? Let me know if you go there and what is your impression!
I do not have doubts we will meet there soon.
I would like to thank to Mr Andreas Gavris for inspiratonal talk we had and for being my host during my stay at Litochoro.
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