One summer I spent almost every weekend on the idyllic island of Spetses and had still not tried every tavern or restaurant. For an island with only a 25 kilometer circumference and my appetite, this is quite shocking. One night I decided to remedy this and go to ‘Patralis’, one of the oldest taverns on the island that has grown into an upper scale tavern. There was an event taking place in the restaurant so all the seats overlooking the sea were taken. We almost left to go somewhere else, until our hunger got the best of us and we decided to sit out the back in a small courtyard as shown.
We ordered fava and wild greens (horta) to start and MY were they a nice surprise. Both were served warm (not always the case) and both had the perfect amount of lemon – from someone who loves lemon, this says something. Most food in Greece suits lemon, especially seafood. There is always a battle with the waiters to bring more lemons and with your friends to reach for the few pieces on the table to splash onto your plates. This restaurant is one of the few that actually brings lemon, from the start, on a separate plate. Therefore it was already scoring high points.
For our main course we chose a moussaka and a shrimp kritharoto (type of spaghetti that is rice shaped and size). Biting into my first bite was one of those moments I can’t explain, but can only portray visually. Imagine a face, starved with hunger and placing the first mouthful of food into your mouth and hoping for the best. Next comes the pleasant surprise and then realisation that your bite was actually something really special. Eyes pop open and then close again and you make all sorts of gestures with your knife and fork in a typically dramatic Greek fashion. My partner was so enthralled by my performance that he immediately helped himself to a bite, made dramatic gestures of his own and was instantly jealous that I had ordered the better dish. Not that the moussaka was bad, I tried that too and found it excellent – there was a perfect, potato to meat ratio and they had not packed it with oil or eggplant (something that can make it very heavy). The only thing poor I could find was that they had sprinkled a bit too much cinnamon into the mince meat, but otherwise this was also delicious. Even so, my shrimp kritharoto was heaven sent.
I have since been back to the restaurant and can never quite recreate that moment of profound divinity (even with the same dish), but I have also tried other main courses such as the grilled fresh fish and beef stew with red sauce – both very good, but not excellent. Prices are ok for an expensive island, the waiters are friendly and the house wine is perfectly acceptable. Definitely one I visit more often now.
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