GB Roof Garden Restaurant – Undoubtedly the Best Meal and View Within Range of the Acropolis

The Acropolis has long been the center of life in Athens. Its role as the city’s vibrant hub evolved from a functioning palace of gods and royalty, to its visual epicenter today. It is visible from practically any angle in Athens, and one of the city’s true delights is to dine at sunset in view of this architectural marvel.

On our last night in Athens, we were able to do so.

The GB Roof Garden Restaurant is located on the top floor of the Hotel Grande Bretagne, and it offers one of the most pristine views of the Acropolis.

Chef de Cuisine Dimitris Boutsalis graciously described what he had prepared for us. But first my daughters wanted to know about his background. He humbly (but understandably proudly) described how he studied culinary arts in Athens, then continued his education in London.

I later found out not only had he further trained at renowned restaurants in Germany, Spain, UK and Vietnam, he also worked at NOMA in Denmark, ranked more than once as the best restaurant in the world. At GB Roof Garden, he works with Asterios Koustoudis, the Executive Chef Hotel of Grande Bretagne and King George Hotel. Koustoudis has been awarded a Michelin star, and the results of what the pair have accomplished was evident in the sumptuous meal we enjoyed.

Although the view to the Acropolis was like a magnet, we were likewise mesmerized by the culinary offerings.

The chef started us with a carpaccio of beef and truffles, which was buttery soft. That was followed by a trilogy of thin sashimi grade tuna, salmon and bass garnished with yuzu sorbet and masitha oil. Each fish was flavorful and fresh.

A buratta globe was the size of a baseball, and arrived with rocket and light basil pesto, offset nicely by figs, cherry tomatoes and focaccia. Next was a delicate steamed sea bass with crisp vegetables. The homemade ravioli which followed was drizzled with a light feta cheese sauce, pine nuts and herbs from the restaurant’s garden.

Head sommelier Evangelos Psofidis chose for us during the course of our meal a light Riesling and later a crisp white from Santorini. The former is a wine we eschew, but it paired perfectly with the burrata. As the meal progressed, the 2014 Syrah by Emphasis he chose opened delightfully and worked well with the tender lamb chops. The perfectly grilled meat was surrounded by smoked eggplant purée with yogurt and black olive drops.

Our waiter then introduced us to mastika liqueur, which is derived from mastic, a resin with a slightly pine, cedar-like flavor. It is far less overpowering than ouzo, and sipping the mastika we had more time to ponder the view in front of us.

It seems ridiculous to say so, yet I have the feeling that in Athens a miraculous light of day never entirely vanishes; in some mysterious way this soft, peaceful city never wholly lets the sun out of its grasp, never quite believes that the day is done. – Henry Miller

We gazed as the moon emerged over the crest opposite the Acropolis. The sun’s reflection on the moon competed with the lights now illuminating the Parthenon. Both light sources have been doing so for a long time. On balance, the moon is a bit older than the Parthenon, the former lighting the latter always.

We lingered over our liqueur, and somewhat magically our dessert arrived. We dabbled with the mastika infused ice cream, which was accompanied by other dessert flavors. The tiramasu was as delicate as we have tasted anywhere.

As deep and gratifying as was our family conversation, it would all seem so transient if you could pull back the lens over the centuries of discussions in these long shadows of the Acropolis.

During the long warm evening each of us would look up from the amazing dish or the engaging conversation and ponder the Parthenon. As wonderful as either of the foregoing, the latter still quietly abides.

Three and a half hours later we marveled at how time flew, probably a similar thought of the gods still stirring among the ruins of the Acropolis across the way.

 


Brad Auerbach has been covering the media, entertainment, travel and technology scene for many years. He has written for Forbes, Time Out London, Village Voice, LA Weekly and early in his career won a New York State College Journalism Award.

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