By Sandra Bancroft,
Since ancient times, Greek food has been influenced by its geography and the island of Crete more than most, merging flavors from different cultures Throughout the centuries, Cretan food has been influenced by its geography. Located at the crossroads of Europe, Africa and the Middle East the island has a long history of trading around the settlements of the Mediterranean, and of being both conqueror and conquered. Exposed to different ingredients and dishes, the Cretans incorporated the best into their traditional cuisine. But they have never changed the basics of their own olives, bread and wine.Today, Cretan cuisine continues to display modern twists on classic dishes using local and season-fresh produce. Cretan food tends to be prepared with a light hand allowing the natural flavors to dominate. For those who are visiting the beautiful city of Agios Nikolaos, on the north-east coast of Crete, here is a list of some of the best restaurants to be found.
Barko, Akti Pagalou
The Barko is a stylish, contemporary restaurant with fabulous views over the popular Kitroplatia Beach. The interior is calm with its neutral colors, flagstones and subdued lighting. The food is a mixture of old favorites and modern updates and all use the best quality ingredients. Dishes to try are the sardines rolled in vine leaves and baked in the oven or the Pork Fillet with figs, hazelnuts and honey sauce. Dinner for two without drinks will cost €30-50
La Strada, N. Plastira 5
This very popular restaurant is a fusion of Greek and Italian cuisine. The style at La Strada is warm and intimate, on the lines of a traditional trattoria. There’s sure to be a dish to suit all tastes as the menu offers 11 risottos, 20 fish dishes, 40 pastas and 50 types of pizza. There are several Italian wines on the wine list too. The restaurant is wheelchair friendly. Dinner for two without drinks will cost €30-50
Mare & Monte, I Koundourou & Kondilaki
Fine dining comes to Agios Nikolaos in the form of this intimate restaurant. The interior boasts a nautical theme with its calming pale blues and white color scheme and has amazing views from both sides of the room. Diners can choose to sit in air-conditioned comfort and gaze over the harbor, or enjoy the sea view from the wide open windows. The menu is a combination of traditional Cretan ingredients and wider Mediterranean flavors, particularly Italian. The Tiramisu is sublime. Mare & Monte is wheelchair friendly. Dinner for two without drinks will cost €30-50
Chrysofyllis, Akti Pagalou
This unpretentious restaurant can be found on the road just passed Kitroplatia beach. The beach view is perfect and interior comfortable with its off-white furniture, teal blue walls and wrought-iron chandeliers. The menu is innovative with a wide selection of meat starters and seafood. Recommended dishes are the pork fillet with wine, honey and sun-dried tomatoes, chicken with saffron and the burger on pita with tomato sauce and yoghurt. The wine list at this modern ‘Radadiko’ offers 11 choices of ouzo. Dinner for two without drinks will cost €20-30
Mouragio, Aki Themistokleous 9
Ahoy there, this restaurant declares its nautical name (Pier) with a matching theme of portholes, walls awash with sailing vessels and sailor’s ropes and knots. The award-winning chef loves to experiment with timeless classics, adding modern touches such as sliced tomato lightly battered accompanied with local Xigalo cheese and fresh basil. Mussel pilaf and baked pork with celery are both good choices for the main dish. There is live music at weekends. Dinner for two without drinks will cost €20-30
Portes, Anapfaseos 3
Portes is for those who are in the know or who are lucky enough to stumble upon the charming taverna. The atmosphere is warm and authentic with rustic overtones demonstrated by its collection of antique artifacts and agricultural implements casually strewn about its interior. Ingredients are fresh, local and seasonal. The rabbit stifado cooked with plums and figs is the best on Crete. Order the red, aromatic local house wine as an accompaniment to the delicious stew. Dinner for two without
drinks will cost €20-30
Source: Meet and Eat in Crete (Dine & Wine Guide) written and published by Agnes R. Weninger Canadian/Hungarian Restaurateur & Food Writer.