Prosopa Restaurant, Athens

Prosopa is a half hour walk or a quick and easy taxi ride from the central Plaka district. We’d read about it online and thought it sounded interesting, their website is really well done (classy and a little arty) and their food seemed worth checking out, so we walked down past Kerameikos Cemetary and called in early evening on a Sunday night.

The restaurant is almost on a corner so there are two entrances, one that looks like this…

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…and the other like this.

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Inside, the decor was what you might call modern/industrial courtesy of the use of existing features such as the air condition ducts overhead and big factory-like windows that looked out to train tracks. The style would fit excellently in a hip North American downtown area. Here are some images we took just after we walked in.

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Once seated we were given substantial-feeling menus decorated with hand-drawn designs. We looked them over whilst enjoying a complimentary aperitif – a sweet, fizzy wine together with two cheeses and a selection of breads and breadsticks, olives and olive oil. The bread was lightly toasted and gluten free and both it and the breadsticks were delicious. The cheese was sprinkled with crushed nuts and served slightly warm with the outer a little melted over a solid inner. Overall it was a very classy, interesting introduction to Prosopa and it put us in fine spirits; if the aperitif was this good it boded well for the rest of the meal.

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To give a fuller picture of Prosopa, here are a few more observations.

The music was a real personal mix. Not the usual stuff you might hear in a fine dining restaurant, ranging from Abba to The Stranglers to Duran Duran to easy listening lounge and jazz.

There’s no language barrier for English speakers here; the three waiters we had serve us plus John the manager all spoke good English. The waiters were also attentive, in a understated way. For instance, our glasses were never empty but they weren’t afraid to smile and we were left alone when we wanted to be.

The cutlery was heavy and the napkins were refreshed regularly but although there was this very hip, fine dining experience going on, the restaurant was also family friendly. When the inevitable spillage occurred at another table where a family was dining there was no fuss, just a seamless continuation of traditional Greek hospitality. A super-quick mop of the floor, a few smiles to ensure the family were ok and everything was back to normal.

We started with rocket salad with spinach, sun dried tomatoes, mushrooms and grilled haloumi cheese.

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The cheese was chewy and perfectly complimented the taste of spinach and sweet balsamic with the sundried tomato giving an occasional hit of flavour. The salad was served at room temperature, perfect.

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“Usually I don’t enjoy salad as I find it too bland and even the usual seasonings don’t liven it up enough,” said Lamia, “but this is really tasty. I’m loving the variety of textures, chewy cheese, hard sun-dried tomatoes, soft mushrooms, and of course the tastes and also the balsamic is clearly good quality, like we got used to eating whilst in Tuscany.” A point to note is that the salad has a lot of dressing and is rather oily so if you prefer yours drier then advise the waiter of this.

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We’d asked the waiter to recommend a wine; he bought a light Greek red from Nemea. It was a sound choice, we enjoyed the bottle no matter what we drank it with throughout the evening.

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We’d read on TripAdvisor that it’s normal at Prosopa to expect certain items to arrive at the table compliments of the house. This was the case with the next item brought to our table, a Cretan spinach pie.

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The cheese was strong, there was a hint of fennel and the pastry was crunchy. Exactly what you’d expect from a good Greek spinach pie. This is quite possibly my favourite Greek dish; when it’s cooked right the fennel is at the same time the most powerful flavour yet also very understated. It took me a while to tune into the experience but now I love tasting a good Cretan pie, and this was certainly a good one.

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Next I had a fresh ravioli filled with mushrooms.

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The pasta was firm and filled with earthy tasting mushrooms. I wasn’t sure but I’d say the sauce contained truffle as it had the taste of the forest about it. I thought it a great success.

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We then shared a mushroom tagliatelle with Parmesan cream.

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It was a medium cooked pasta, not al dente, and it was tossed in a thick creamy cheese. It was ok, not my favourite pasta ever and not one that I’d be satisfied with as a main, but ok to put somewhere between starter and main perhaps.

Lamia next had the Gruyere cheese in crunchy pastry with orange sauce.

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“It’s crispy, lightly fried filo triangles packed with the warm stretchy cheese,” said Lamia, “in a reduced orange syrupy sauce. The sweet and tangy orange sauce totally complements the subtle flavour of the cheese. It’s not a full blown orangey taste, just a slight citrus tang.”

For her main course Lamia had the rib eye black Angus steak with baby potatoes and aromatic butter.

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The plate, when brought to the table, was placed at an angle to best emphasise the thin streak of sauce.

“The meat is very tender and cooked medium,” said Lamia. “I don’t normally order medium, I’m always going for well done, but this new experience of seeing red is interesting. It’s the most expensive dish on the menu so I didn’t want to massacre the meat and order my usual well done and I’m glad I didn’t as it doesn’t actually taste that different from well done, just more tender. It’s also much juicier and visually it adds more colour to my experience.

It’s a very authentic and fine tasting cut, and the roast potatoes are tender and herbed offering a pleasant and earthy taste to compliment the meat. John the manager asked if I wanted my meat more well cooked just after it arrived, I thought that was a kind gesture.”

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For my main I had a sweet pumpkin risotto.

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It was a thick risotto and it held it’s upside down half moon shape on the plate perfectly. The sauce was reduced so what you’re left with is sweet, drier rice on the outside and juicier rice at the bottom. It’s a comfort food, almost, as it’s quite heavy and not afraid of it’s strong and peppery flavour.

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For dessert we moved onto a selection of dishes that we shared. First was a creme citron on butter biscuits.

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It was an airy, citrus creamy mousse served in a cocktail glass with tiny pieces of crystallized biscuit at the bottom. This was probably my own personal favourite out of all the desserts we sampled.

Then there was a chocolate soufflé with vanilla ice-cream.

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It took fifteen minutes to come as it was made fresh and I loved the combination of soft, moist, hot melted chocolate with cold, lush ice cream. The presentation, on a piece of black rectangular slate, was lovely. Lamia liked this one the best.

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Next to the chocolate soufflé was a vanilla ice cream topped with butterscotch sauce, that you can see at the bottom of the photo above. The biscuit was mixed with hardened toffee and the vanilla ice cream was subtle in taste, smooth with no frozen crystals. The showing of butterscotch sauce finished it off nicely.

Another complimentary dish then arrived, a banoffee pie with banana and cream.

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It was as luscious and creamy as it looks and the light base broke up easy as we dug into it. It was a satisfying and decadent dessert that despite it’s creaminess also felt light and easy on the stomach, which it needed to be as we’d eaten a lot by the time we got to it!

We finished with an espresso with sparkling water on the side: also complimentary. There was a citrus flavoured chocolate chip biscuit with it, nice.

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We left Prosopa full and happy, considering that it was well worth the half hour walk from our hotel. I really liked that the staff, the atmosphere, the wine and the food (how great is it to find a decent restaurant that has a full range of options for both meat eaters and vegetarians). The music was fun, the decor really interesting, the food contemporary but not overly so  (you’ll recognise everything on the menu but it’ll probably be presented in a way you’ve not experienced before) and overall we’d say that the restaurant is really worth your time and money.

To discover more, visit http://www.prosopa.gr/

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