By, Melissa Bryant
From its Mediterranean-inspired décor to its Greek-sourced products, the new indoor-outdoor Atlantikós restaurant at The St. Regis Bal Harbour tells an unexpected story of the Greek Islands. “We are not another Greek restaurant,” says General Manager and native Grecian Panos Nikiforou. “We try to be very authentic with our recipes. There will be some new dishes you probably haven’t seen, ingredients you haven’t tasted, and dishes you haven’t experienced.”
Stepping inside the intimate 200-seat seaside eatery, which opened last November, guests are immediately transported across the Atlantic to the island of Santorini. Fabrics and draperies are adorned with the decorative Greek Key pattern, white-washed woods are seen throughout the restaurant, and blue agate tables and counters lie beneath a trellis framed by towering mosaic columns. Amidst a sea of bright blue and milky white, reminiscent of the glimmering waters of the Aegean Sea and the white-washed houses of the Greek Islands, a live guitar player sets the tone for an authentic dining experience on a quiet Thursday evening.
In one sitting, guests can figuratively hop from Greek island to island, sampling the best each has to offer. In fact, 75 percent of the restaurant’s products, including the fish, cheeses and oil, come straight from Greece.
Using these fresh ingredients, Greek-born Chef de Cuisine Anastasios Chasekioglo has re-imagined traditional recipes from his travels throughout the islands and personal recipes from his grandmother into Atlantikós’ eclectic menu, featuring vegetarian and gluten free options. Standout appetizers (mezze) include the grilled octopus (octapodi fava) served over a mesmerizing mixture of pickled sea fennel, caper berries, caramelized onions and fava beans from Santorini, as well as the tzatziki spread made with chili oil and spiced, barrel-aged feta from northern Greece.
Entrees, categorized as “ocean,” “land,” or “vegetarian,” come in ample portion sizes meant for sharing. For a taste of the islands, go for a seaworthy delight such as fresh-caught red snapper cooked in a clay crust or the more unusual sea urchin linguini with tomato, garlic, parsley and oil. I, however, recommend the melt-in-your-mouth grilled Colorado lamb chops (arnisia paidakia) drizzled with a delicate lemon mustard sauce and served over perfectly spiced oven baked potatoes. It will make you swear off of gyros indefinitely.
Make sure to save room for dessert (and dessert wine) which ranges from the more familiar baklava to the tasty portokalopita, a traditional orange pie with Greek yogurt ice cream.
My meal ended with a made-to-order cup of Greek coffee, brewed Turkish-style in hot sand. Nikiforou says that in Greece, diners turn their cup over after drinking this coffee to have their fortune told from the thick residue left at the bottom of the cup. And while I didn’t have my future foretold, I’m certain it includes another meal at Atlantikós.
Atlantikós serves breakfast (buffet and a la carte), lunch and dinner seven days a week and is open from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Sunday.
The St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort, 9703 Collins Avenue, Bal Harbour | Visit www.StRegisbalharbour.com/atlantikos