I visited Papaioannou’s Fish and Seafood Restaurant in Mikrolimano, Piraeus, on a busy Sunday lunch time. The maitre D informed us that due to the holidays the variety of dishes is not as wide as it usually is. This was a most welcome first sign of the attention the restaurant pays to the quality of its ingredients. What followed confirmed this in the most positive way. Papaioannou Restaurant is a top gastronomic destination in Greece.
Sea urchin eggs.We started with the eggs in their own natural juices and nothing else. No salt, no lemon, no olive oil. As it should be. As mother nature gave it to us.
The accompanying drink was ouzo. If you do not like ouzo, you may try tsipouro, or a dry white wine with high acidity, like asyrtico.
Red mullet sashimi followed. It needed no dressing whatsoever. But eating an olive and a leaf of rocket after tasting the fish was sensational.
Crayfish tartare.This is by far the best crayfish dish I have ever tasted. You cannot imagine the sweetness, the kindnes of the flesh as it unleashes its flavours in the unuspecting and unprepared oral cavity. It is so captivating that it continues to unravel its magic until it has reached the lower depths of the oropharynx.
Fried baby cuttlefish. The flesh melts in your mouth, while the crispy ink explodes in in millions of parcels of pleasure. Infinity as a sensation must be this bombardment of the taste buds by these agents of hedonism.
Grilled squid sweet as sin cand tender as desire ame next. The chef had given it just a touch of olive oil for the grill, and a light sprinkle of salt. It needed nothing else. No lemon, no extra salt.
Grilled grouper.The flesh is moist, gelatinous, full of the aromas of the sea, soft yet firm. Eating in Papaioannou is not just an experience, it is an adventure. Dear reader, plase take a second to note that there is no dressing whatsoever on the fish, just the salt the chef put on it while on the grill. This is not an ommission, it is a deliberate act. No dresing is nedded! Because it will distort the gastronomi message, muffle the sounds of hedone emanating from the body and mind of the patron.
Grilled red mullet filet.It must be very few people on this planet who can perfect the grilling of red mullet’s skin to a degree that it complements the juicy succulent flesh in a way that makes one believe in miracles. At the end of the day, metaphysics must have a physical grounding, and it might very well be this dish.
Fried red mullet filet. The chef, George Papaioannou has a reputation for frying fish to perfection. He lived up to it. The filet of flesh was melting in the mouth, releasing all the flavours of the red mullet’s skin. And as always with fresh fish, a sweetness enveloped every sensation in the silky delusion of never ending pleasure.
Grilled sea bream. It was time to return to reality and the grilled sea bream pulled it through.
The grilled mediterraneam slipper lobster (kolochtypa) ended the feast. This was an ode to the endless adventure of texture interweaved with flavour.
As I now recover from the flood of sensory stimuli that was mercilely unleashed against my cells I can say without any hesitation that Papaioannou is quite possibly the best fish and seafood restaurant in Greece today.
In addition to the food, service is top class. The team is professional, friendly and efficient.
The location in Mikrolimano is ideal for a long lunch. We spent something like 4 hours and enjoyed all variations of light on the sky and the sea.