Wednesday, November 14, 2007

GB Roof Garden

GB Roof Garden
Grand Bretagne Hotel
Constituition Square
Bookings: +30 210 333 0000

Last night three of us ate at the bar and restaurant on the top floor of the fabulous Grand Bretagne Hotel in central Athens. With a wide terrace and full length windows running down one side this restaurant offers drinkers and diners probably one of the best views of the Acropolis to be had.

The restaurant has a bar area at the entrance and then the rest of the ornately decorated room is taken up with white linen covered tables. Lots of low lighting, immaculate dressed waiting staff and you know that you are in expensive dining territory.

The menu is 100% Italian, which came as a bit of a surprise, added to which the starters were almost all seafood and the mains almost all meat. They have a pasta/risotto section stuck between the two but it was strange feeling being forced at gunpoint to a fish starter and meat main.

They have two wine lists available, one for Greek wines and one for ‘Other World’ wines. I quite fancied the idea of Other World wines, I mean how often do you get the chance to taste grapes from the other side of the River Styx, but I was instructed to go for a local wine. I am quite hapy to admit that I know nothing of Greek wines and so with a little help from our lovely Cretan waitress we settled for a Bordeaux-style red from just north and west of Athens.

The generally accepted opinion that Greek wines don’t compare very favourably to their French or Italian counterparts is one that I now subscribe heartily to. Two nights in a row we drank what we were told was very good Greek wine and they both left me decidedly underwhelmed.

Our starters appeared and I thought that some mistake had been made, the portions were absolutely huge, and I really mean huge. None of us got close to finishing them and I rather started to dread seeing what the main courses would look like.

Having said that they were all pretty good; nothing outstanding and the presentation (disregarding the ludicrous sizes) was rather uninspiring, but the flavours were all good, the seafood was very fresh and overall we all enjoyed what we had.

We were all extremely relieved to see that the main courses were possibly a little bit smaller than the starters. I had a bowl of tortellini with a butter and sage sauce, a very simple dish that requires a light touch and fresh flavours. It was good, the sauce was not to cloying and the sage not too strong. I find that an overuse of sage produces almost a mouldy taste but last night my dish had three whole leaves and the flavours were just right.

Dessert defeated us but we did manage to put away another bottle of Greek’s finest just to see if we didn’t enjoy it as much as the first!

I liked the restaurant, it is a safe bet for a reasonably decent meal. The view over the old part of Athens is stunning but I couldn’t help but think that apart from the view I really could have been anywhere in the world. There was no feel of Athens at all, cocooned in 5 Star hotel luxury, it was all a bit synthetic and I think I actually would have preferred to have been in some basement taverna in Plaka throwing back little glasses of raki and stuffing myself on dolmades and kleftiko.


nzm said...

If you can, try a high-end white wine from Santorini.

EyeOnDubai said...

or Domaine Hatzimichalis, makers of a very fine white...

halfmanhalfbeer said...

Now you tell me!