Dear Loyal Readers,
We sincerely apologize for the break in regularly scheduled programming. However, the reasons for our absence were solid and include but are not limited to: getting engaged, .5 of #Javon running a marathon, getting caught in Paris during the terrorist attacks, and celebrating the birth of our nation with turkey and pie. Luckily, we have been doing so much (so.much.) good eating over the last three weeks. Let's start in Greece, shall we?
Funky Gourmet was founded in 2009 by a pair of young Greek chefs, Georgianna Hiliadaki and Nikos Roussos, after they met at the Institute of Culinary Education in New York. They started a private chef business which turned into what is now Funky Gourmet. In 2012 the restaurant received its first Michelin Star; in 2014 it received its second.
You have three options: The 16 course Degustation Menu 1 for 130 euros, the 12 course Degustation Menu 2, or the 6 course Choice Menu for 90 euros. You can also upgrade any of these for 40 euros and get beer/wine pairings. For a two starred Michelin restaurant the prices are very reasonable, and you are probably only going to be in Athens once, so go for the gold (olympic pun!) and get the 16 course Degustation menu and live without regrets! #YOLO
Everything is special at a restaurant of this caliber--if you leave the table for any reason, they don't just refold your napkin, they give you a completely new one: HIGH CLASS STUFF, PEOPLE. This place was fancy and classy to the nth degree, and the best culinary experience either of us have ever had, and it's not our first Michelin rodeo.
Salsify in the soil
This dish is delightfully salty caviar mousse served on a piece of petrified wood with crispy fried root chips atop. This course tasted like a light, high-class spin on chips and french onion dip. Starting the meal on such a high point really skyrocketed our expectations for the creative and flavorful dishes to come. Basically: we were giddy to eat fifteen more courses at this point. Carry on!
Sea urchin with sea sponge
The sea sponge was a tangy piece of bread served on a bed of oysters and seaweed, and you are instructed to dip the bread into the sea urchin eggs. This dish was light and fun to eat.
Greek bottarga tartlet with white chocolate
This was the first of several dishes that were a nod to traditional Greek cuisine. Bottarga, salted and cured fish roe, is a staple in the Greek diet. They serve the bottarga on a thin onion cracker with an even thinner layer of white chocolate on top of the fish. The sweet and savory combination is perfection, and it tastes almost like an everything bagel with cream cheese and lox. #jewfood.
This dish was a small empanada-like bite filled with avocado and other magic ingredients. It was the first dish of the night that didn't blow us away, but we still enjoyed it.
Stop the world. This dish is everything: haute cuisine, fine dining, and the art of making food as fun as it is delicious. Just like everything at Funky Gourmet, this dish begins with the presentation. The servers place a tiny picnic blanket and a piece of petrified wood in front of you before they lay out all of the components: picnic baskets filled with tiny breadsticks shaped like baguettes with an aioli dipping sauce, a baby "BLT" made with bacon jelly, a hardboiled egg served with a vinegar potato chip, and a tiny bottle of vinegar to spray on the egg, a serving of cashews in an edible plastic bag, and a perfect meatball. This dish was so ridiculously fun to eat. We laughed and marveled our way through each little course, and delighted in watching the other diner's reactions as they were served their picnics. Yay, food! Update: After all of the fancy and world renowned restaurants we have eaten at since Funky Gourmet, this dish remains the clear favorite.
Coulouri bread and Cretan buttermilk
Another spin on a traditional Greek food--you will see the round coulouri bread everywhere on Athens' street corners and bakeries. The sweet soft cheese served with it was a lovely and light accompaniment. The way the lighter and heavier dishes are staggered is appreciated, and the portions are such that you are never too full, yet nothing is wasted.
This bite-sized serving of Greek lasagna was rich and savory. It was served with a tableside pour of melted grass-fed butter. Opa, indeed.
This dish was Jason's favorite of the night, picnic notwithstanding. The snails were served in a bright and earthy pea sauce with crunchy cheese crisps peppered throughout. The best part, though? Freshly shaved black truffle grated tableside. The portion of truffles was very generous, and it made this dish so richly flavored and special. It's not every day you get to eat a pile of truffles on your snails.
Catch of the Day Fricassee
The fish was served in a foamy, buttery sauce. This was probably one of our least favorites of the night, but it was still quite good, and the fish was cooked perfectly.
This is one of Funky Gourmet's signature dishes, and it was easy to see why. They combine all of the flavors of a traditional Greek salad (cucumbers, tomatoes, onion, oil, and vinegar) into a light and fluffy sorbet. Blowin' ya mind with that molecular gastronomy. It was also a nice palate cleanser for the heavier meat dishes to come.
The Silence of the Lamb, Parts One/Two
Part One was lamb brains in a lamb brain sauce. It had the texture of liver - smooth and a little heavy. Part Two was a perfectly cooked lamb chop served over a bed of fragrant Rosemary. This was so good we forgot to take a picture of it beforehand and we had to stage it to make it look like we didn't devour it like velociraptors. This was probably the the best lamb we've ever tasted.
The Feta cheese that wished to be a beetroot
This one was kind of a dud, only in the sense that we had high expectations and it basically just tasted like a block of feta cheese. The presentation was excellent, which made the cheese actually look like a beetroot, but overall it was not one of our favorites.
The Vegetable Dessert
This was my favorite (other than the picnic). It consists of two parts. The first was a carrot sorbet, served in a carrot! It was earthy yet sweet. The other component really blew us away, though: they boil potatoes, scoop out the insides and turn it into potato ice cream. They then put the ice cream back into the little potatoes and candy the entire thing, ,so the result is that it looks like you are eating a baby potato, but the inside is crunchy, cold, and sweet. The presentation on this dish was fun, if superfluous (a bag of real potatoes on the side).
Milk skin 'bracelet'
This dish was inspired by a traditional Greek pastry. It was a baklava-like circle of honey and walnuts, covered in a milk skin coating to hold it all together. It was then dusted with gold dust and served in a jewelry box which you opened yourself at the table. Super creative and delicious.
This was a hollowed out strawberry filled with strawberry sorbet and then covered with a cheesecake coating. This was Jason's favorite dessert, and he doesn't typically like cheesecake. The experience was elevated by the presentation, yet again. They serve this with a tiny white strawberry tree, and you get to pick the strawberry from the branch and eat it along with the dessert. So cool. As this dish was somehow made with corn (dear god, no), I had the "Bread and honey dessert," which was bread frozen into a sorbet, dotted with honey. More molecular gastronomy fun.
This was the grand finale. The dish comes out smoking from dry ice, and is served in a deep bowl filled with leaves. The effect is very jungle-esque. Within the bowl are two round orange-scented chocolates which you put in your mouth, without chewing, where they "explode" with a a sweet orange filling.
Neither of us drank, what with Jason facing down the marathon in two days coupled with some pretty serious jet lag. The other patrons who got the alcohol pairings seemed pretty happy, especially with the beer served with the picnic and the house made liquor served with the Milk skin bracelet.
Funky Gourmet is nestled in the heart of Athens, although don't expect your cab driver to be able to find it without some difficulty. There is minimal signage, and it feels like you are walking into someone's home. We sat in the upstairs dining room. The design is clean and modern, which was a cool contrast to the beautiful ancient buildings you can see below.
The service was impeccable, which is no less than what you would expect from a Michelin Star experience. The servers were so patient, and would explain each dish to us happily a second time if we requested (which we definitely did due to complicated dishes and thick accents). The servers are all multi-lingual and will accommodate you no matter your native tongue or dietary preferences.
Food is priority number one at the #javon wedding; Jason can almost walk normally again after 26.2; The next time we go abroad we hope to do it with less ISIS activity; We finally ate brains, but they weren't brains from a live monkey (yet); Now every time Jason gets up at Chipotle he expects hand-delivered fresh napkins.
Rating: 5 out of 5 + 3 Michigan Pugs
13 Paramithias st.
Salaminos & Keramikos, Greece 10435
Tuesday-Saturday: 7:30 pm-1:00 am