If you are holidaying on the Greek island of Zakynthos, be sure to visit the new restaurant Anadalis in Argasi that adjoins Windmill Bay Hotel on the coast road. The setting by the sea could not be more magical since the tables are set under palm trees with the waves lapping below the restaurant, making a romantic evening setting and a place to enjoy good times with friends and family.
The restaurant was opened this season by my niece Sophia, who has returned to the island after a few years working for a leading hotel group. She’s one of a new generation of entrepreneurs that are returning to the island and bringing fresh style to the businesses started by their parents on Zakynthos.
Why the name Anadalis?
The land on which the restaurant and hotel stand was purchased by Sophia’s great grandfather, but it originally belonged to the Anadalis Estate, which was owned by the aristocratic Domeneginis family. A little up the road is a small church and square tower overlooking the sea, all that remains of the family’s Anadalis mansion which in its 19th century heyday, hosted the leaders of Zakynthian society, including the famous Zakynthian poet Solomos.
Over the years, the mansion was damaged in earthquakes, but always rebuilt. However, during the 1821 Greek war of independence from the Turks, the mansion became a secret meeting place for political groups and was left in ruins to discourage unwanted visitors. In order to keep prying eyes away, a story was put about that the old mansion was haunted and it became known locally as the ‘Devil’s Mansion’. When Sophia opened the restaurant, she remembered the stories her grandmother had told her about the old ruined mansion and decided to call the restaurant Anadalis after it.
In Anadalis, Sophia has created a restaurant that offers the flavours of the Mediterranean while using local Greek and Zakynthian ingredients. She told me,” When we worked on the menu, I wanted to make sure that there was a uniquely Greek touch in every dish, and many of the ingredients are only found here on Zakynthos”.
The best of local flavours
The bruschetta uses fresh tomatoes topped with a local smoked pork called apaki, and the sea bass is garnished with kritama, a green vegetable a little like samphire, that grows on the rocks near the sea. The Zakynthian graviera cheese is used in the rolled pork tenderloin with sundried tomatoes and spearmint, while the Greek salad incorporates a local goat’s cheese katiki domokou instead of feta.
The seafood dishes are especially popular and the sea bass is caught locally by the fishing boats you’ll see moored up in the mornings along the harbour wall in Zante town. The Mediterranean influence comes through in the pasta dishes such as Linguine Anadalis with prawns, calamari and mussels in an ouzo sauce.
Chocolate soup and ancient Greek Baklava
Deserts are equally delicious, with one of the most popular being the chocolate soup with crispy biscuits and orange ice cream and I enjoyed the creamy pan cotta served with pomegranate syrup. The baklava here is made with pistachios instead of the more usual walnuts, and flavoured with krokos, a Greek herb similar to saffron. Although most people think of this as a Turkish desert, in fact it was popular with the Ancient Greeks who served crisp fried bread drenched in honey and sprinkled with nuts. Many of the deserts are served with Kaimaki ice cream, a typically Greek flavouring that is based on the mastic plant that is also used to make liqueur.
A chef who has worked in the top Greek restaurants
Sophie recruited an experienced chef de cuisine in Kristy Karageorgou, who although still in her 20s, brings ten years of experience of working in top Greek restaurants. Kristy worked in the 6 Keys restaurant in Pelion which has a ‘Toques d’or”, the Greek equivalent of Michelin star and also worked under top Greek chef, Yannis Baxevanis at his restaurant Giorti in Athens. Krista loves using fresh herbs and will be found at the beginning of the evening clipping herbs and flowers such as lavender from the borders beside the restaurant to use in the evening’s dishes.
Cocktails and wines with a Greek twist
We enjoyed a cocktail before our meal from the list which also incorporates local herbs and Greek flavours. The Violet cocktail includes gin, violet liqueur and lemon as well as the Greek mastic flavour and basil from the herb garden, while the Elderflower fizz with gin, elderflower syrup and lemon makes a refreshing drink for a summer evening.
The small wine list is also carefully chosen to include wines from Zakynthos and other prize winning Greek wines. The aygoustiatis is a grape variety that is unique to the island, making a fruity, aromatic red from the Grampsa winery on Zakynthos. We also tried a delicious, prize winning Gerovasilioy Chardonnay from the Epanomi region in Central Greece.
The sun sets over Anadalis
As guests start to arrive in the restaurant the sun casts a golden glow over Anadalis and the sea breeze rustles the leaves of the palm trees. Just below the casual bleached wood tables and painted wood sofas, the sea is lapping gently over the shingle and narrow strip of sand where guests swim during the day.
As you order a cocktail or glass of wine the sky turns to pink as the rosy ball of the sun sets over Zante town. The candles flicker on the table and lanterns are lit around the restaurant as the lights of the town match their twinkle across the bay.
It’s a magical setting for for dinner with family or friends and there’s a large grassy area adjoining the restaurant where children can play happily while parents relax over a glass of wine. In the height of the summer, the air is warm but at the beginning and end of the season the tables are brought under the awning and sides lowered as the evening cools.
Be sure to reserve your table at Anadalis, already it’s proving very popular and getting great Tripadvisor reviews. Starters €4-6, Main course €8-14, Pasta €7-11, Deserts €4-4.80. Ring Windmill Bay Hotel to make a reservation. You’ll find Anadalis adjoining Windmill Bay Hotel (it has a separate entrance and parking area) on the coast road on the edge of Argasi resort, on the Greek island of Zakynthos.
More things to enjoy in Zakynthos
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