Black Duck Garden – Cheeky Dining and Décor in the Heart of Athens

I have noticed a recent trend of restaurants juxtaposing culinary, design and architecture elements. Others probably commented on this trend earlier, but I first became delighted by the trend last year in London at sketch Parlour and a few years ago at The Tasting Room an hour east of Cape Town.

Black Duck Garden in Athens similarly mashes up the old and new. Tucked between several buildings near the enticing Athens City Museum, the leafy restaurant is both a hip watering hole and a delightful bistro for dining.

We had a nice array of the culinary offerings, once we were seated under a canopied platform in the patio.

We commenced with the gastronomic juxtaposition by choosing a tasty Chinese cabbage salad. The bok choy was served with radish, walnuts and sesame oil vinaigrette. We also enjoyed the roasted cauliflower salad with couscous.

Our waiter warned us that the ceviche would take 20 minutes to prepare, and we were in no hurry. It was worth the wait, the lime juice had ‘cooked’ the fresh fish perfectly. Being from Southern California, we would have liked some tortilla chips to gather up all the elements of the dish.

For the mains, our daughters went with pasta stuffed with white truffle béchamel and sjimeji mushrooms. They were glad for the gravy sauce, as it moistened the dish nicely.

My wife had the first of her Greek seafood dishes by ordering the squid, cooked in chamomile buillon and served over black rice and fennel. She had forgotten how chewy squid can be.

My dish was the favorite of the evening, a sea bream fillet with Jerusalem artichoke, pickled swede and black garlic oil. The fish was delicate yet not overpowered by the mélange of flavors.

The room we saved for dessert was filled by the crème brulee (made unique with tonka bean flavor) and the signature Black Duck Biscuit. The latter was a full bodied chocolate canache with smoked salt and pink pepper.

The cheeky décor was matched by the ambitious combinations of ingredients, making Black Duck Garden one of the city’s up and coming venues of choice for eclectic diners.

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