We’d barely settled in to our rural eco villa in quiet Poseidonia Bay on Syros Island, when my husband started wanting lunch. Greek food has always been his favourite and he was impatient to get started. Our host, Nick Geronimos, was the ideal Trip Advisor. He gave us a map with Sunsets (Iliovasilema) Restaurant heavily circled. ‘Take your swimmers and towel,’ was added. So we did.
Setting off in a little rented Renault, chuffing up and down narrow lanes winding around vineyards and olive groves reminded us that quiet Syros is not a tourist island like others in the Cyclades. No Santorini painted scenes, no Mykonos thumpa bars here. Only birds singing, smells of wild sage and lavender, turquoise water on our left as we followed the coast north to Gallisas.
Our arrival into Ermoupoli port that morning first indicated we were in a different kind of Greek island. The town bustled with business life, the marbled streets of the Venetian city made you think you were near Florence or Perugia. As the administrative centre of the islands, Syros works all year and the people lead comfortable semi rural, semi professional lives, evident by the glamorous restaurants and shops on the waterfront.
But then we reached Sunsets. This was not its Greek name, but thankfully, an image of a large sunset helped us find it. And what a find! The tables were set actually on the beach, heavily shaded by palm umbrellas on a wooden platform. Right away we could see this was no “fava and horta with chips’ sort of taverna. The waiter spoke beautiful English (ten years working in Hampstead) and spent time explaining different Greek grape varietals. The menu was designed for us, we are fussy about quality. We dislike oily, fried foods, we love to be shown something new, and we want something wonderful to eat, not just ‘something’ to eat. We are not easy.
Sunsets gave us everything we wanted, and some things we didn’t know we wanted: such as wandering off for a swim between courses. Now we’ve added that to our list of important things a restaurant has to offer. We tried several other recommendations by our host and all were exceptional. We decided Syros is a gourmet destination secret, just as it seems to have escaped the popular tourist route. Good Greek food is simply the best cuisine in the world.
Judy Boyle, New Zealand