Tholos

Gialos | Port de Symi, dodécanèse, +30 2246072003 , Greece
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People seem to rave about the view here and while it is most certainly nice, it’s also not unlike virtually every other harbor-facing restaurant in the region, of which there are scads.

And as for the food, it’s just okay. Your typical Greek fare with no extreme twists or highs. Of the semi-highs, or should I say semi-high in the singular, was the rocket salad with Cretan cheese- soft and porous like Swiss, but earthy and grassy like grana. On the so-so side, the warm gigante bean salad with tomatoes, the fava bean puree and the tzatziki, which was a tad too garlicky.

Service was friendly and attentive as it seemed to be everywhere on the island, but the place really is nothing as special as the TripAdvisor crowd cracks it up to be.

2 teeth

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The Muses

Gialos, Behind the bridge, 85600 Symi, Greece • +30 6958734503
beetroot-salad

While the location is rather unfortunate, across the street from a playground full of screaming kids, the setting is quite lovely with it’s basket lights and lattice work overhead. I just recommend eating at 9:30pm or later, once the screaming has abated.

That said, you might start screaming with delight as the watermelon amuse bouche explodes in your mouth. Not to be outdone by its cheese puff chaser. Right away you know you are in gourmet hands as every single presentation from these two Argentinian brothers is like something you’d expect to see on the plates of Manhattan’s finest. Granted they tend to go a little crazy with the foams, but I’ll forgive them because at least everything was good.

For starters we had a yogurt dish that was so thick and creamy it was almost like cheese, loaded with dried figs, apricots and an assortment of nuts. The other was a tuna sashimi with wasabi, peaches and of course, foam.

For entrees we went with the octopus in a, you guessed it, ouzo foam, placed over a bed of leeks and an orange puree. And while it was good, the real winner was the sea bass with mushrooms, spinach puree and a citric acid- yup, foam. The combination of flavors was perfection.

As for dessert, the chocolate 5 ways was a bit of a let down for me as I was only partial to one of the five ways. Luckily the other dessert was truly something special. Asparagus ice cream with jellied fruit and citrus. So inventive. So unique. So not having anything to do with foam. And such a high note to end on.

4 teeth

The Windmill

Chorio, Symi, Greece • 69 55 97 36 95

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It’s worth all 400 steps that it takes to get there. Located in an old windmill, of course, perched high above the town. Sadly, only the cooks are actually inside the windmill itself. Patrons are seated in a small semi-circle of about a dozen tables around it. And while one might expect incredible views from such a height, it is much to the contrary. The tables all face toward the back street, which has its charms I suppose, if you like watching the locals pass by, along with a few street cats.

But what the mill lacks in view it makes up for in spades once the food hits the table, which admittedly can take a while. But when the food comes out this good, I’m happy to let them take their time. No need to rush to failure.

Not a single miss was served. The avocado hummus was wonderfully creamy and fresh. Blended to order and as good or better than anything I’ve ever had.

Doubling down on the chickpeas, we also got a spicy dish as well, seemingly Moroccan inspired and Greek nailed. One bite and you knew these ladies weren’t playing around. Same goes for the spicy steak and vegetables, only this dish seemed to garner its influence more from Thai cuisine. Loaded with such wonderful flavors I was willing to overlook that the meat was a bit on the overdone side.

And then came the crème de la crème, or should I say the crème de la prawn? Basking in a bourdon and saffron cream sauce these crustaceans practically evaporated from the plate. As did the sauce. Worth an order of bread unto itself just to sop it up.

Even dessert was sensational. The whiskey chocolate tart and the lemon cake were both so different, yet equally impressive at seducing their respective places on your tongue. Tart and sweet and texturally gratifying as well. The lemon cake almost had a nut or ricotta-like quality to it. I would’ve examined it further had I not been so busy scarfing it down.

Then came the shocker. The bill. But it’s not what you think. First of all, it’s VERY reasonable for such artistry. So that was a bit shocking. So was the fact that they don’t take credit cards and we were a touch low on Euros, even with the modest pricing. Luckily the owner was so nice he allowed us to pay through our hotel, otherwise I would still be washing dishes as opposed to typing this review.

5 teeth

Mythos

Symi Harbor 85600, Symi, Greece • +30 22460 71488
mythos-restaurant

We went here on a recommendation from our hotel, which claimed that the chef at Mythos was the “most consistent” in Symi. Well, we assumed he meant consistently good, but from what I could see, consistently chatty is more like it. He is perpetually fluttering from table to table like a social butterfly, meanwhile, his kitchen is churning out turd after turd.

Eleven courses we endured through the chef’s meze tasting, explained on the menu as the best of his best, and out of all eleven we only bothered to finish two. That’s not to say that all nine of the remainders sucked, but most of them did, with a few mediocre stragglers.

Of them, the spinach pie was by far the worst I have ever had. Like something you’d expect to find in a high school cafeteria. So soggy and lifeless his citizenship should almost be revoked for such a blight on Greek cuisine.

Next, a half notch up from shitsville was the shell stuffed with slop, or as they called it, shrimp and cheese. But it was so bland and over-cheesed that you could barely find the miniscule frozen shrimps hidden within in its mediocrity. Needless to say this was another one bite and done dish.

Working our way further through the chef’s tour de farce, we had a underwhelming mousaka and an equally prosaic lamb with rosemary.

Even the bookends of the meal were tragic. The bread was a touch stale, the salad was limp and over-dressed and both desserts tasted like bricks of cream. One marginally flavored with lemon. The other with banana.

But to be fair, the eggplant dish with sweet potato and berry jam, as well as the seafood risotto, were both relatively good. Then again, McDonald’s is relatively gourmet when you are relatively starving in the desert.

The only things that rose to a level of great were the rooftop setting, which has a pleasant view overlooking the harbor, the wait staff who was friendly and attentive, the kalamata olives, which the chef obviously doesn’t make, but rather purchases and then pulls out of a jar to serve and finally the lamb kebab with a spicy sweet sauce and tzatziki. Congratulations. I guess in Stockholm he learned that if you throw enough darts at the board eventually one of them is bound to hit. That said, even the kebab was dry and overcooked, but fortunately the sauce covered it up.

1 tooth