Papadias is unquestionably the most famous fish taverna in Porto Heli at Ermionida. The place is attractive but with nothing special or flashy to distinguish it from any other restaurant. What does make the difference is its menu, along with its clientele, because this is where the elite meet, the jet-setters who frequent the fancy resorts and luxurious villas owned by celebrities, royalty, shipowners, business tycoons and artists in the vicinity of Porto Heli.
This emblematic fish taverna has been open since 1958, as the black and white photos on the walls from that period testify; in them the little taverna appears shaded by a bamboo pergola at the edge of the sea.
Today at Papadias, bluebloods and mere mortals, locals and vacationers can sample simple dishes like courgette fritters and grilled haloumi cheese, fresh fish, succulent fish meze and seafood (crayfish tails, sardines with capers, mussels, crab legs, spaghetti with lobster) as well as perfectly grilled meat, accompanied by a big choice of wines from an excellent wine list.
Although a traditional chef, Kyr Nikos dares to experiment with new trends. For example, he serves an extraordinary grouper carpaccio.
When I asked him how he became familiar with the preparation of raw fish, he replied simply, “When we were small, my father used to try to make me help out waiting table, but I had my mind on playing and I would scarper off with the other kids. Fishing was our favourite pastime and we would catch octopus, squid, crabs and tiny shrimp. How many were the times when we were dying of hunger, so famished we would just bite into whatever we had and eat it raw. Carpaccio and seviche – we invented them”! said Nikos, laughing.
“Of course, the rest of the grouper doesn’t go to waste. Thehead makes wonderful soup. I take slices from the middle, and make the carpaccio from the tail”, he continued as he proudly served us fried shrimp balls with aubergine mousse and a risotto-like orzo with shrimp.
Even if Kyr Nikos mingles daily with VIPS, he remains a soft-spoken, dedicated professional whose only aim is to make sure all his customers, mortals and bluebloods alike, are equally satisfied.