Varoulko Seaside

Restaurant in Athens

Michelin-Star Greek Seafood Restaurant

The Greek poet Odysseus Elytis once said: “If you deconstruct Greece, you will see that what is left at the end is an olive tree, a vineyard and fishing boat”. These are exactly the places where owner and head chef Lefteris Lazarou gets the three main ingredients from for his menu at Michelin-starred Varoulko Seaside – good quality olive oil, the finest Greek wines and the freshest seafood.

I had been in Greece a few days and I still hadn’t seen the sea, so I was looking forward to dinner at Varoulko Seaside, located in Athens’ Piraeus district, next to Mikrolimano Marina. With the sea lapping against the window and yachts bobbing right up next to me, I couldn’t think of a more perfect location for a seafood restaurant. With all the natural wood and nautical themed décor around me, I almost felt like I was on an actual boat.

Varoulko Seaside has been going since 1987, and in 2002 it was awarded a Michelin star – the first ever awarded to a Greek restaurant in Greece. Chef Lazarou seems to live and breathe everything to do with the sea and loves what he does. Lazarou learned to cook from his father who worked as a cruise ship chef, and from the age of 15 he went to work with him during the summers.

The set menu began with a soup – a choice of squid ink or onion with coffee foam. I went for the onion – sweet and pungent mixed with the subtle flavour of smooth coffee – an interesting and refreshingly unique dish.

This was followed by a quinoa salad made with grilled shrimp, marjoram, lime zest, scallions, tomato squares and fish chunks. It was light, clean and summery, and just what I expect from a true Mediterranean restaurant.

Next came a cuttlefish risotto – smooth and creamy – not at all like the Italian risottos with plenty of wine and cheese, but light and fresh with decidedly Greek flavours.

For the main, I was served a simple slice of grilled sea bream, topped with a cauliflower mousse, vegetable ratatouille and cuttlefish ink sauce.

The dishes were simple, fresh and vibrant and featured only the highest quality Greek ingredients. There was no pretension with the presentation or the portions – it was just uncomplicated, effortlessly good food.

After the meal, chef Lazarou came out to show me his cooking school across the road. The three-story building was new and shiny and smelled like freshly cut wood. It felt more like a home than a school, decorated with Lazarou’s own art collection, given to him by friends and famous Greek artists; comfy sofas and reading corners packed with cookery books. After that meal, I was definitely tempted to sign up for a course.

Esme Fox is a freelance travel writer who is based in Spain

Photographs courtesy of Varoulko Seaside

Reviewer's Rating
Cuisine Greek
Need to book Yes
Clientele Locals, families, groups and couples
Restaurant good for Couples, Families with children, Small groups, Outdoor seating, Scenic view
Cost per head High
Dress Code Smart Casual
Dining Options Lunch, Dinner

Additional Ambience Information

Relaxed and romantic with an elegant, yet rustic seaside-themed décor.

Additional Price Comments

Mains only range from €45 - €65.

Last updated on 13-06-2016

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