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Ta Kioynia - review

This is a really, really great restaurant says Drew Smith

Written by . Published on September 17th 2012.


Ta Kioynia - review

The good news is that the greatest restaurant in Europe (well, one of...) TA KIOYNIA is not dead. No euro crisis or Greek depression can quite keep this place down.

BreadThe secret breadThe great man Michael Koubiadis is back in the kitchen in Rhodes and as it happens has just invented his “secret” bread – the trick is energizing the water he uses. It is the best bread he assures me...it looks like this, an airy sourdough...

Flights to Rhodes with Ryanair this Saturday are £80, £40 next Tuesday. I got a room for £21. Saving Greece from itself is cheap. Ta Kioynia  is a good reason to go, the very best in fact:

MichaelkoumpiadisMichael KoumpiadisKoubiadis is, his menu explains , “the father of the Greek perception of nouvelle cuisine, and his family, while creating  their cuisine have only one mentor to consider...their own conscience”. The business one way and another has been going since 1972 which was the same year Christian Gault and Henri Millau coined the cliched term nouvelle cuisine in Paris for their annual restaurant guide.

At this time of year the dining room is on the street, at the top of Rhodes old town, a muted mix of blues, tiger skins, gold ashtrays and cottage blues and whites.

PresentationWait for it it...

They do not do menu – it just comes. “I am going to explain things how they is, and if you like something...” is the explanation when you are confronted with the tray of starters..


But let us not get ahead of ourselves...

FiloThe Filo

You do not pass up the plate of filo made with sour apple juice and fllled with feta and herbs which is one of the great dishes of all the Mediterranean. Above all this kitchen knows how to bake. It arrives with a bowl of soft black olives that match – soft and crisp, sour and sweet, old and young, balance, you see.

SouppastaThe soup is tiny pasta is a spearmint broth

Tonight’s soup is a peasant pasta concoction but the seasoning is spearmint, and tomatoes and feta...as much liquid as filling.

About at this point you will have worked out that this is not a run of the mill good restaurant. It is a restaurant that reminds you that for all the hype that surrounds food these, this is what it should be. It is not about ants running up trees, as Noma was doing at Claridges in August, it is about community and produce and people and craft and place...

MeatballMeatballHe has a new dish he was playing with – meatballs with tatziki which looks less than it is – the batter from the secret breadcrumb is soft, the tatziki – spearmint here again – is sweet, it is like the cheeseburger has been reinvented, Greek style – kebab, crumb, tatziki. The man is an outrageous talent and at 64 is working away all afternoon in his kitchen looking for perfection, for his conscience...and by the evening will be relaxed at his table to greet you.

MezzeThe Mezze

Now we get to the main event number one – the mezze. The whole tray is presented to you to choose what you like – the two bean salad, the chickpea soup, the octopus carpaccio, smoked mackerel, a spicy (and it is) feta salad, the iconic snails in tomato sauce...

The taramasalata is white, almost sweet with an umami tang, tang...fava beans are pureed and bitter, bitter offset with orange. It is stop in your track stuff. What is going on? There are flavours here you will not have tasted since your mother’s milk, especially, you wish, if she had eaten the  salad of pine nuts, smoked aubergine and mayonnaise.

RiceThe Rice

The rice is cooked in chicken stock with more pine nuts and soaked currants. The beef is cooked in a claypot. No tricks, no corners cut, no foams or frills, just straight down the line attention to detail.

KebabKebab

The second main event – their choice – is the kebab, like a punctuation in an otherwise virtually vegetarian meal – the yoghurt here decorated with poppy seed – a beef shish that has scraped itself along the herbs of the mountain side, chicken (well they call it rooster) that has scratched those same hills, the sweetest, texturous lamb chops...and peppers, and cabbages and tomato...

He wants to move to London or New York before it is too late. If we all club together to help him we could make a fortune...

There is no web site. No phone. Just turn up. The taxis don’t go there either because the old town is pedestrianised. And it is all in Greek which my keyboard does not do. Email me and I will get you a table and a map...

Food    10
Service    5
Atmosphere    5
Total 20

btw: Ta Kioynia translates as pitcher

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