A stop over in Athens means a visit to Aris Vezene, an American Greek chef operating a small bistro styled restaurant just near the Hilton. He is passionate, talented, focused and self-taught. I always think about a chefs life when I see kitchen staff rushing around as orders bombarde the kitchen.
We sit at the metal clad bar near his red Berkel slicer sipping the Clos Stegasta, a fantastic wine from Tinos. I sneak a peak at his wood burning oven that runs almost all day and night. The oven is wood hot and the team is smoking some meats as I squeeze in their way to try to video.
The kitchen works on a pizza for us – a quick food fix as we wait on the chef-owner Aris Vezene. I have never met him but we have talked on the phone several times about topics relating to French cheese and Japanese meats. He knows his stuff and is fanatical about products. Aris imports his own meats and butchers it himself – he’s a renaissance man. A selection of cuts is shown to the customers and they can choose from a variety of types by origin and cut. I forgot to photograph the selection sorry.
His passion, or at least one of his passions is obviously meat. I tour his back of the house, but we are more anxious to taste his cooking. Heading upstairs the food begins to flow as the restaurant fills up. I thought it would be quiet for a Monday night but it was full to the brim. He starts by serving us some wagyu carpaccio – it hits the spot.
Excited by the smokey aromas from his wood burning oven comes an exceptional trio of some mouth-watering meats. Spiced perfectly with a crispy crust and a long flavour we dig in. Yet my mind the wanders away for a split second to his meat aging cabinet, the yellow fat and the nutty aromas. The fat of any meat is often more important thank you think as I glance over at his library.
The foods were excellent and the flavours superb – especially his sea urchin pasta which is cream free and it blew my mind. Given its made with pork reduction and flecks of roasted pork, it’s finished with sea urchin. Aris explains (in the beginning) it wasn’t an easy sell it given most sea urchin pasta’s are one not spicy, and two, are usually made with sea urchin only.
I admire chefs that start from ground zero and plug away at trying to keep clients satisfied. Restaurant life is tough, it isn’t glamorous at all – the daily challenge is often overwhelming. The end result at Aris restaurant is just what I expected and no less than perfect. /Chef Bravo!!!/