On Lesvos, the town of Molyvos is deservedly the tourist’s favourite spot for its natural vistas, attractive architecture and fabulous sunsets.
The name Molyvos is relatively recent, possibly a contraction of Mont d’Olives so called because of its groves when the Genoese Gattilusi dynasty was in power (1355-1462). Officially, it is known by its ancient name, Mithymna.
The town’s houses, clustered below a formidable Byzantine fortress, have their own traditional, colourful architectural style andare connected by flagstone lanes that are crowned with climbing plants such as wisteria and ivy and lead down to the shore or the harbour.
It is there, where the fishing boats anchor in the much photographed port with the castle in the background, that you’ll find Baboukos fish tavern (‘ouzeri’ or ‘ouzadiko’ in Greek), the haunt of gourmets, amongst other tavernas.
There you’ll have to choose between a host of dishes that complement ouzo, such as bite-sized pies, scallops and lakerda (cured bonito), fresh local meat and home-cookedcasseroles, pasta, soups, fish soup, and usually fresh fish and seafood.
The great advantage of thiseatery is that it is open day and night all year round, a good thing because most of Molyvos’s othertavernas are closed in winter and it’s hard to find something to eat.
In summer, life is out of doors, the tables set up under umbrellas along the sea front where the caiques moor having brought their catch.
In winter, in the cozy warmth of the interior, Baboukos is enlivened by walls covered with snapshots of faces and places that bring back the Molyvos of the old days. A peculiarity is its chairs: on the backrest of each are written the titles of songs with lyrics by Lefteris Papadopoulos, a faithful patron and fan of Molyvos which he visits every summer. (A journalist and lyricist, Papadopoulos has worked with almost all the best Greek singers/composers from Theodorakis to Dalaras.)
Baboukos is an expert with fish and fish dishes are always on the menu. Aside from the mezedes, his specialties are ‘youvetsi’ (named for the clay pot it’s cooked in) of shrimp with home-made noodles,spaghetti with lobster, shrimp pilaf, a fish soup-stew called ‘kakavia’as well as local meat specialities.