By THALIA PETEINATOU
I had wanted to visit the Cookoovaya restaurant for a long time – it fact since it opened, back in December 2014
It was created by four famous Greek chefs ( Spyros Liakos, Vangelis Liakos, Pericles Koskinas and Manos Zournatzis) who joined forces, based on the concept “wise cuisine”, as cookoovaya means owl in Greek, the symbol of wisdom and also the symbol of Athens city!
After five years of successful operation with awards on modern Greek cuisine category, plus Michelin Plate distinction in 2019, I thought the time had come to go there for Sunday lunch and find out first-hand if this is indeed a” wise choice” to make.
The restaurant is centrally located, only a few steps from the Athens Hilton, in a classy but not too fancy neighbourhood. Although we were very lucky to find parking space immediately, I would not propose getting there by car, as driving around in circles to park is really annoying in Athens (and most other cities!). Besides getting there by taxi, it is easily accessible by metro, the Evangelismos station is only five minutes walking distance.
The restaurant gave us a feeling of cosiness from the first moment we walked in, as we were welcomed by a host and a hostess, who found a nice table for us, although we hadn’t made a reservation in advance.
Open cuisine (where you can see directly into the kitchen) is always a plus and especially the obviously positive and happy ambience between the chef and his team gave us more confidence in trusting them! It is not only the fresh ingredients but also the love and joy you put in cooking that makes a successful dish, like my grandmother used to say…
The waiters were polite and professional but not too serious or pretentious, attentive but not pushy and the service altogether was fast and efficient.
At first, along with bottled mineral water of 1 lt (2€ – but commonly served for free everywhere in Athens), the couvert (2,5€ p/p) included 2 different kinds of bread to pair with extra virgin olive oil, poured by the waiter in a little bowl for us, accompanied by avgotaracho (Greek caviar or bottarga) placed on a piece of fresh butter. It was a nice combination of smooth butter with this salty twist of fish roe. The second variety of bread was very interesting, looking like a black cake with pieces of nuts and semi-sweet taste.
I regret to say that opening the menu was a surprise as I realized that the prices were higher than the ones I had in mind (it suggested 20-40€ p/p on Tripadvisor but……). Looking through the menu, we decided to skip salad as most of them had a price of around 19€. There were interesting choices of wood-oven baked appetizers though, so we went for the flat bread with lamb, fresh goat cheese, graviera cheese and pickled mushrooms (16,50€).
Although lamb is not my favourite meat, it was properly cooked and nicely combined with the cheese and the herbs, especially the peppermint, which added a distinctive freshness to the salty cheese and meat.
The portion could be shared between 2 or 3 persons, as a starter. The other alternatives were Greek pies, with spinach, cheese & herbs and another open pie with truffle creamed mushrooms, grilled beef fillet and crispy onion, which I would love to try next time!
As a main dish, I ordered the ravioli filled with beef, tomato sauce, smoked eggplant, bechamel sauce and graviera cheese (19,50€). I was not excited, to be honest, although I liked the taste of the meat in tomato sauce inside the ravioli, it was lost into the bechamel sauce (although light and not greasy).
My partner didn’t like the taste given by the smoked eggplant but sometimes creative contrasts do not please everyone!
However, the dish was well presented and the portion was satisfyingly large.
Maybe I was not thrilled by my choice because I tried my partner’s dish first, which was simply delicious! He took the skirt steak with thyme mushroom puree and steamed wild rice. The meat was tender and juicy, wonderfully paired with the mushroom favored black risotto. On that case, I wish it was more… so, I was trying to chew slowly to prolong the pleasure! The price was 25€ but both me and my partner agreed that it was worth it!
I chose a glass of dry red wine (8€), named Apla from a Greek winery, Oenops with a blend of 3 red wine varieties originating from Drama region in the north of Greece. It was superb, although quite strong at 13% ABV. But I enjoyed it very much.
My partner had a dark Greek house beer (9€).
It was a nice experience, nut I have to say that the food does not live up to the prices charged, at least not by Greek standards. So no dessert whatever their rating!
Be prepared to pay at least 50€ p/p with salad, dessert and even more with a second appetizer! T I would go to this restaurant again with great pleasure in the first occasion, provided I have a bigger budget at my disposal!
But there is a lunch menu at 36€ from Monday to Thursday until 18.00. This includes mineral water and a glass of wine.
Xatzigianni Mexi 2A,
Athens 115 28
210 7235 005
OPEN from Sunday to Thursday from 13:00 to 00:00 and on Friday and Saturday from 13:00 to 01:00am.
Metro station Evangelismos