This restaurant, set up a decade ago. is named after a hill in Athens and is within a hotel called Andonis at the north west tio of Santorini. The restaurant is set out over a steep cliff face in the picturesque town of Oia and is in an awkward location to access. The nearest point a taxi can drop you then involves a walk up a slope and then turning left to the hotel, which is located in amongst a series of other bars, restaurants and hotels. The restaurant entrance is not marked so you need to find the Andonis hotel sign, and you are then escorted to Lycabettus. The restaurant itself is down a steep set of steps with no handrail, around eighty steps in all, so is not designed for the infirm or vertiginous. Once you climb down the steep slope, however, you are rewarded with a stunning view. The main dining area is in the open air and set out over a promontory on the cliff, the tables looking out over the Mediterranean way below and, to your left, at the set of dwellings that hang precipitously from the steep hilltop. There are additional tables just a few steps below this along the edge of the cliff. This is certainly one of the most striking locations for a restaurant anywhere in the world.
The head chef is Pavlos Kyriakis, whose menu is a mix of a Greek and international dishes. There was an a la carte and also two tasting menus, one Greek (€185 = £161) and one international (€148 = £129). Rather oddly, the Greek menu was unavailable this evening. If you reserve a seat in the main dining section on the edge of the cliff then they insist that you take the tasting menu. The menu featured a lot of international ingredients like beef and langoustines, though to be fair Santorini itself does not grow a lot except for vines: cherry tomatoes, white aubergine and fava beans. Still, I would have thought that it made more sense to use mostly Mediterranean products rather than importing, say, frozen langoustines.
The wine list was substantial, with a broad selection of offerings from Greece and around the world. Wine pricing in Athens is generally very kindly compared to most international cities, but here you are in Santorini, and things are very different. This can be seen from the basic Moët et Chandon NV Brut at €160 when this champagne can be bought for €49 on the street, with its posher sister champagne Dom Perignon 2006 at €470 compared to its retail price of €173. Example labels were Argyros Assyrtiko 2017 at €68 for a bottle that you can find for €26 in the high street, Tiare Sauvignon Blanc 2017 from Collio at an outrageous €132 compared to its retail price of €19, and Joseph Phelps Freestone Pinot Noir 2013 at €175 for a wine that will set you back €48 in a shop. Holidaying oligarchs wanting to show off the size of their wallets could buy Chateau Haut Brion in the off vintage of 2004 for €1,200 for a bottle whose current market price is €486 or Mouton Rothschild 2007 at €1,870 compared to its retail price of €578. This was not a wine list to splurge on.
There were a few nibbles, including a truffle croquette, a gazpacho with watermelon and mint foam, an onion taramasalata with caviar and a little slider that seemed to contain just mayonnaise. The croquette was the best of these, and overall these were perfectly pleasant nibbles (13/20). Bread was apparently made in the kitchen and included a nice enough white bread and a roll flavoured with sun-dried tomato (13/20).
A trio of scallops (€41) were cooked well enough, but lacked the natural inherent sweetness of a really high-grade scallop, and were frozen. The shellfish were on a bed of endives and saffron sauce, the slight bitterness of the endives a sensible idea, though the saffron was hard to detect (just about 13/20). I preferred crab with avocado, radish, raspberry and Greek yoghurt. The crab itself was very good, though there was not much avocado and I am not sure what the raspberries really added (14/20).
Langoustine ravioli with sesame oil and herbs (€48) was a curious dish. The ravioli was hard and the langoustine filling small in volume and with subliminal flavour. What you could mostly taste was the rather vinegary sauce, which combined with the texture of the pasta meant that the dish resembled a Chinese pot sticker, but at a price that would suggest a high end multi-starred Paris restaurant (barely 11/20). Better was sea bass (€47) with spinach, Parmesan foam and parsley sauce. The fish was cooked reasonably well, topped with an almond crust resembling fish scales, while the spinach was all right, but the Parmesan foam was curiously lacking in flavour (12/20).
A pre-dessert was a cream of rum and celery sorbet, meringue and cooked beer (whatever that means), and was a rather odd concoction, with celery a peculiar thing to try and introduce into a dessert (barely 11/20). For dessert, praline mousse (€23) came with raspberries and an ice cream made with spices, and was harmless enough, the texture reasonable (13/20). This was better than banana ice cream with green apple foam, barely detectable tonka beans and cacao (€22), which rather bizarrely featured quite a lot of salt in the foam. Salted caramel is one example where salt can work in a dessert, but that is unusual and does not apply here, where anyhow the salt was too dominant (10/20). Coffee was quite good, and came with a plate of mignardise.
The bill came to €177 (£154) a head, with a very enjoyable bottle of Hatzidakis Assyrtiko 2016 between us. A typical price per head with a modest bottle of wine to share might be £130, but you could easily storm past this price point if you had the tasting menu and anything more ambitious from the wine list. Service was charming, the waiters that we encountered being attentive and friendly. At the end of the day you are paying a substantial premium for the unique and undeniably spectacular natural setting. The kitchen could probably get away with almost anything here, but at least are trying to make an effort. However not everything works, with some dubious flavour combinations and some fairly ordinary quality ingredients given the extremely ambitious price point. If you compare the pricing here with the top places in Athens then things are eye watering, and reflect the tourist nature of Santorini: this location allows some serious premium pricing. Hayler's law says that food gets worse as it gets higher: think airplane food, ski lodges, revolving restaurants, whereas no-one ever goes to a basement restaurant for the view, so generally places in basements (such as Le Gavroche) have to work harder to sustain customers. As with any such generalisation there are a few exceptions, but they are rare. Here you are at one of the highest points of the island, far above the yachts below, and so that rule must definitely applies. Objectively the food at Lycabettusis merely pleasant at best, and in no way justifies the size of the bill, even with such an amazing view.
Thanks for a great overview of dining on this beautiful island. I have to say prices have risen dramatically since my wife and I visited some years ago. I doubt on this report we will return!