The Cyclades Restaurants

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The Cyclades Restaurant Reviews

Eating is a lively social activity in the Cyclades, and the friendliness of most taverna owners compensates for the lack of formal service. Unless you order intermittently, the food comes all at once. Restaurant schedules on the Cyclades vary; some places close for lunch, most close for siesta, and all are open late. Reservations are not required unless otherwise noted, and casual dress is the rule. However, luxury restaurants are a different kettle of fish in some respects.

Greek food, like English or indeed American, used to have a bad international reputation, and you can certainly find bad food in Greece. This is often a result of restaurants' trying to adapt to the tastes and wallets of the throngs of tourists. For example: When a tourist asks for less of the islands' culinary gem—fruity, expensive olive oil—in a dish, the essence is lost. Greece produces top-quality tomatoes, lamb chops, melons, olive oil, and farmer's cheese. When Greeks go out to eat, they expect good, simple food culled from these elements, as should you. A few things to watch out for: "fresh" fish on the menu when the weather has been stormy; store-bought eggplant salad; frozen potatoes. Pay attention, and you will dine with much pleasure.

Dishes are often wonderfully redolent of garlic and olive oil; as an alternative, order grilled seafood or meat—grilled octopus with ouzo is a treat. A typical island lunch is fresh fried calamari with a salad of tomatoes, peppers, onions, feta, and olives. Lamb on a skewer and keftedes (spicy meatballs) are also favorites. Of course, nouvelle Greek has made great strides since it was first introduced a decade ago at the luxury hotels of the Cyclades. At the finer hotels, and at certain outstanding restaurants, you can now enjoy tasting the collision of centuries-old traditional dishes with newer-than-now-nouvelle spices and preparations. There are just so many times one can eat lamb-on-a-skewer, so go ahead and enjoy some big blow-outs at top restaurants—if you have a chubby wallet, that is.

The volcanic soil of Santorini is hospitable to the grape, and Greeks love the Santorini wines. Greek wines have tripled in quality in the last decade. Santorini and Paros now proudly produce officially recognized "origin" wines, which are sought throughout Greece. Barrel or farmer's wine is common, and except in late summer when it starts to taste a bit off, it's often good. Try to be on Santorini on July 20 for the celebration of St. Elias's name day, when a traditional pea-and-onion soup is served, followed by walnut and honey desserts and folk dancing.

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