“PIATO”, Agios Nikolaos CreteLong tradition in exquisite taste
We visited, saw, tasted and now we comment on the best restaurant in Agios Nikolaos and one of the best in Crete
Allow me to quote one of our most famous writers, Nikos Kazantzakis: “Crete doesn’t need householders, she needs madmen. Such madmen make Crete immortal”. This phrase kept coming to my mind when, about a month ago, I visited this blessed and unique island on a business trip. I was wondering whether I would run into householders or madmen… And then I remembered the words of Alexis Zorbas, Kazantzakis’ most popular literary hero: “Damn it boss, I like you too much not to say it. You’ve got everything except one thing: madness! A man needs a little madness… or else he never dares cut the rope and be free”.
Giorgos in fact has little to say. The menu and the flavours speak for themselves. We started with a refreshing salad “Mperdema” (salad leaves, marinated orange, dried figs, caramelised almonds and orange vinaigrette) and then moved on to the starters: The split peas from Feneos with fennel broth, smoked herring, pine nuts, sea fennel and caramelised onion were the best I’ve ever tried. I have never tasted split peas with such a smooth texture and spicy, yet sweet flavour.
The crispy black cod croquettes with homemade mayonnaise, saffron from Kozani and lime, paved the way for the chicken “soutzoukakia” (traditional croquettes) with galeni cheese mousse, bell pepper sauce and fresh aromatic herbs. It is an excellent dish which could skyrocket with some extra salt or a more spicy touch.
The first main course was rooster “pastitsada”: it was served in a nest of crispy cinnamon leaves with aromatic olive oil and aubergine mash in an ingenious combination that blew my mind away. One of the best dishes I’ve ever tasted.
The simmered (16 hours) pork pancetta with sweet potato cream and carob & soy icing was a true delicacy.
I thought this journey into flavour had been concluded when I tasted the variety of chocolate with carob: carob flour cookie, chocolate mousse with carob syrup and caramel tuile. George, however, had other plans. Just before leaving he served us a glass of an aged wine distillate “Apostagma Oinou Palaiothen”. If you ever visit Agios Nikolaos and PIATO restaurant please do ask for a glass of it. You’ll see what I mean…