To Psaraki

Vlichada Marina, Santorini, Vilcahda, 847 00, Greece

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This taverna, whose name means “The Little Fish”, opened in 2009 and is located at the southern tip of Santorini, overlooking the harbour of Athinios. Its owners are Thanasis Sfouggaris and Aggeliki Synetou, who had a decade of prior restaurant experience before opening at this picturesque location. The main restaurant has an indoor dining room and several outside tables in a little garden. In addition, just over the road is a row of tables that directly look down over the harbour and the sea beyond. If you are after a table with a view then ask for these when reserving.

The menu emphasises seafood, with several fish of the day options that are priced by weight. There was a short wine list with no vintages listed but selections such as Karamelegos Assyrtiko at €28 for a bottle that you can find in the high street for €20, Sigalas Barrel-fermented Assyrtiko at €56 compared to its retail price of €35, and the very classy Hatzidakis “Assyrtico du Louros” at €94 for a wine that will set you back €98 in a London shop.

Bread tasted fresh and came with excellent deeply flavoured tomato puree made from the locally grown cherry tomatoes (14/20).  Dolmades were vine leaves stuffed with rice and herbs and served warm, served with Greek yoghurt and olive oil. These were very good, a world away from the versions you see in a UK supermarket (13/20). The signature dish here is the grilled sardines, here filleted then grilled, served with onions and herbs. These were superb, beautifully cooked and with a hint of smokiness from the grilling. The flesh was dense and their natural oiliness was nicely cut through by some freshly squeezed lemon; even the herbs with them tasted unusually good. Sardines have a bit of a reputation problem as people often associate them with the tinned version, but when you have fresh sardines as good as this then you realise just how impressive they can be (easily 15/20).

For the main course, red mullet was fried and served as whole fish to be filleted by the diner. These were simple but good, accurately cooked and with pleasing flavour (13/20). Even better were large prawns that had been grilled on a skewer, partly removed from their shells, tender and having good natural sweetness, serve with a little salad including local cherry tomatoes (14/20). A Greek salad on the side had nice green peppers, reasonable tomatoes, cucumber, onions, olives, capers and feta cheese. The olives had very good flavour, the other elements pleasant rather than memorable.

Baklava was made from scratch in the kitchen and had plenty of nuts, crisp filo pastry though for me a touch more syrup would have been welcome (13/20). Coffee was Illy and was pleasant enough. Service was friendly, and the bill came to €50 (£44) with soft drinks. If you had three courses and shared a modest bottle of wine then a typical cost per head might be around €60 (£53). This is a touch pricy for a taverna, but the fish here is of high quality and the cooking is skilful. We thoroughly enjoyed our meal, and I would come back here in a heartbeat. It would be easy to get addicted to the terrific grilled sardines here.


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