Hotel Grande Bretagne, Athens, Greece – A Review

by artfuldiner on February 5, 2022

in Artful Diner Review, Breaking News, Opinion, Romantic, Wining and Dining

GB Athens - Acropolis at Night from Roof Garden RestaurantPrior to embarking on our November 2021 cruise to the Greek Islands, my traveling companion and I arrived in Athens several days early to enjoy the sights and sounds of this marvelous city.

We spent three wonderful nights at the Hotel Grande Bretagne. An Athens landmark for 160 years, the key word here is, indeed, grand. Overlooking Syntagma Square, affording stunning views of the Parliament and the Acropolis, the atmosphere is delightfully Old World seamlessly fused with 21st century comfort.

 GB Athens - Winter Garden LoungeAs you would expect, a hotel of this caliber offers guests numerous amenities to make their stay more pleasant. However, the gastronomic and libationary opportunities deserve special mention. Just around the corner from the reception area, for example, you discover the Winter Garden City Lounge (pictured), an exquisite, beautifully appointed refuge where one may partake of European breakfast, light lunch, or dinner accompanied by the soothing notes of live classical piano. The restaurant also serves afternoon tea, exclusively curated by its pastry & executive chefs, offering tea connoisseurs the finest selection of sweet and savory delicacies.

After checking-in – thoroughly exhausted from our overnight flight, layover/plane change in Frankfurt, and connecting flight to Athens – we decided that the Winter Garden would be the perfect spot for a late lunch/early dinner… which, we also agreed, would be followed shortly thereafter by a very early evening.

GB Athens - Winter Garden - Grilled ChickenWe began by sharing an authentic (no lettuce) Greek salad embellished with copious squares of creamy feta cheese finished with a tangy oil & vinegar dressing. My dining partner then opted for the Sea Bream; I, for the moist and tender Grilled Chicken (pictured) with a sauté of new potatoes. Both were excellent (and, as you will notice, served on beautiful china)… as was the personable but unobtrusive service.

GB Athens - Alexander's Bar 2And be sure to pay a call at the adjoining Alexander’s Bar. The 18th century tapestry of Alexander the Great is the focal point here, but the bartender also makes a great Cosmo and Negroni, which we enjoyed with our meal. Oh, and by the way, Alexander’s was voted the “Best Hotel Bar in the World” by Forbes magazine, so it’s definitely a great place to linger over a glass of ouzo, classic cocktail, or traditional Greek wine.

GB Athens - Roof Garden RestaurantHowever, no stay at the Grande Bretagne – or visit to Athens – would be complete without a romantic evening at the GB Roof Garden Restaurant & Bar (pictured). Located on the 8th floor of the hotel, this enchanting space offers unparalleled views of the City of Athens and the Acropolis with the Parthenon – a former temple dedicated to the goddess Athena – majestically perched upon it.

There is an old saying that the quality of a restaurant’s cuisine may be measured in inverse proportion to the quality of its view. In other words, the more spectacular the view, the less spectacular the food. Fortunately, that is not the case here. Under the watchful eye of Michelin-starred Executive Chef Asterios Koustoudis and Chef de Cuisine Nikos Mavrokostas, the Roof Garden’s kitchen has been the recipient of Athinorama magazine’s Toques d’Or (Golden Chef’s Hat) award for three consecutive years.

GB Athens - Roof Garden - Grouperwith Steamed Vegetables 2Chef Koustoudis’ philosophy is deceptively straightforward. His New Mediterranean cuisine gives a subtle modern twist to premium quality fresh ingredients to allow their exquisitely clean attributes to shine through. Typical of this approach is his Grilled Fish of the Day (pictured) – in this instance, grouper – which we selected as our entrée of the evening.

If there is one thing I have discovered in my years as a “hired belly,” it is that matters piscatorial – specifically delicately flavored denizens of the deep like grouper – are best served by those sauces and other accoutrements that intrude the least.  Moist, meaty, and grilled to perfection, served on a pillow of steamed vegetables, and garnished with nothing but a touch extra virgin olive oil and splash of lemon, the presentation is utterly sublime in its simplicity.

GB Athens - Roof Garden - Lemon Cream CakeSweet endings, courtesy of famed award-winning Parisian Chef Pâtissier Arnaud Larher, continue the kitchen’s extraordinary work. The current dessert menu offers such familiar items as Tiramisu and Crème Brûlée … but also more interesting possibilities such as Paris Brest Pistache (choux pastry, handmade cream with Aegina pistachio praline and caramelized pistachios) and Millefeuille Chocolat (caramelized puff pastry, bitter chocolate crémeux and Chantilly). The night of our visit, it was a variation on La Tarte Citron theme, a luscious Lemon Cream Cake (pictured), that assuaged our sweet tooth.

 I should also mention that, in addition to its other awards, for the sixth consecutive year, the Roof Garden has received the special recognition of “Best of Award of Excellence” from Wine Spectator magazine for its superb international wine list. This distinction is due in no small part to the efforts of Head Sommelier Evangelos Psofidis, who has been responsible for the maintenance of the Wine Cellar and the creation and editing of the restaurant’s wine card since 2009. And the excellent Assyrtiko from the Isle of Santorini, which accompanied our recent dinner, is certainly indicative of his oenological expertise.

Grande Bretagne AthensIf you are visiting Athens, there is absolutely no question in my mind that Hotel Grande Bretagne is THE address to hang your hat. But even if you do decide upon other accommodations, the GB Roof Garden Restaurant & Bar is a dining experience that is simply not to be missed.

Καλλή Όρεξη Bon Appétit!

Be Safe & Stay Well


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