Fusion Food in a Stunning Mansion
Balthazar is among my top picks for dinner and drinks in Athens. The food is as impeccable as the design, serving modern Mediterranean cuisine with a twist. Creativity and ambience flow endlessly throughout this 1897 mansion all year round.
Perhaps its Balthazar’s attention to detail and providing a year-round space that underlies its success. First impressions upon entering the house in the winter, you might think you’re in another big artistic city like London or New York. At every corner your head will turn to admire the beautiful features, high ceilings, interesting lamps, the bright pink and green lit bar and trendy crowd of who’s who.
While in the summer you won’t be blamed for ignoring the inside of the house as you head straight out to the garden, considered the best summer garden in the city.
Open since 1973, Balthazar counts among those few Athenian restaurants that have stood the test of time. Most of them come and go, swapping hands between new owners, with renaming and rebranding frequent. But with only 135 TripAdvisor reviews at the time of writing, it makes me wonder how the locals have kept this place a secret.
Set in an old neoclassical 1897 house, I was reminded of The Arts Club on Dover Street, London. An oversized mirror hangs on the wall of one of the dining rooms, visually expanding the size of the room but an object of admiration in itself. The walls are decorated with art sculptures and pieces, while statement lamps hang from the ceilings, casting light and shadows over the rooms.
The original features appear to have been carefully looked after, surviving each new refurbishment. I’m there with my Greek mother-in-law, who tells me she’s been coming here since she was 18 years old. I can see she loves the place, this house, and all of the memories it holds.
The menu is by internationally renowned chef Christoforos Peskias, considered among the top 10 chefs of Greece. Peskias is famous for his Tomato Sushi, combining the concept of classic Greek stuffed tomatoes with rice and Japanese sushi, transforming it into a new, deconstructed dish. His Tomato Sushi also sums up his signature style, serving up modern Mediterranean food with a Japanese twist.
The food was a fantastic experience. Explosions of flavour, fresh ingredients, interesting salads and sauces. Each dish perfectly balanced, great sharing size portions, and an emphasis on healthy ingredients and cooking. The ‘tirokafteri’ cheese dip with marmalade was delicious, and we were brought a wonderful risotto on the house. After we cleaned out our starters, we tucked into our mains, trying the beef tagliata, prawns and salmon.
Usually not much of a dessert person, I have to give special mention to the caramel dessert. It was exquisite! I am a huge fan of caramel, so this was for me among the Top 3 desserts I’ve ever had. Big compliments to the chef!
Balthazar is also a really popular place to go just for a drink, with an award winning mixologist serving up some of Athen’s most creative cocktails. It typically gets very busy late at night.