Iliokastro (Karakassi) is In the foothills of Mt Aderes, at an altitude of about 200 m and some 7 km from Ermioni. A farmers’ and cattle breeders’ village of 500 inhabitants, this humble spot boasts the best-known bistro-restaurant in the Ermionida area, run by the celebrated Frenchwoman, Maryvonne. What is it that makes all the jet-set staying in the high society seaside resorts of Ermionida, Costa, Agios Aimilianos, and Porto Heli drive half an hour for dinner in remote Karakassi.
Obviously this is a case of what always happens everywhere: a special meal in special surroundings is worth the trip or even the detour.
Upon entering the courtyard, the first person you meet is Maryvonne’s husband, Giorgos, who is busy either with the grill or the wood-fired oven, browning Ermioni’s choicest meat cuts or baking bread kneaded by Maryvonne or roast lamb with potatoes. In the shaded courtyard rotundas with tables seating twelve welcome diners. The lighting comes from lamps carved by the ingenious Giorgos from the trunks of vines.
The interior of the restaurant bears the seal and refined taste of Maryvonne, in a romantic style not in the least pretentious, which evokes the atmosphere of provincial France. Everywhere there are traces of Maryvonne’s homeland: in sculptures, paintings, even the cover of the menu bears the bistro’s trademark, a picture of a coq au vin.
The cuisine is select, the choice of dishes not extensive but carefully prepared. This is what makes the difference at Maryvonne’s. You can have the dish of the day or something specially ordered ahead by your friends, the one as delicious as the other.
Garlic bread like focaccia with goat cheese for a starter, carrot soup with truffle oil, salad of rocket, tomatoes and spring onions with a balsamic dressing, fennel with Parmesan sauce, small pastry purses stuffed with cream cheese, onion jam and balsamic sauce. The main course may be chicken and potatoes with a sage sauce, and, naturally, tender lamb and beef chops, filet of beef, all from the hands of the wizard Giorgos. Similar dishes may be found elsewhere in the Mediterranean countries, but the desserts are purely French — mousse au chocolat and ile flottante.