Having found its niche in Oia in 2004, Red Bicycle Restaurant (“Kokkino Podilato” in Greek) is one of those restaurants that mirrors the character and taste of its creator. Born in Epirus, Hara Kourti is a mainlander who fell in love with Santorini and installed herself in Oia back in the 80s. (θα ηταν ωραια να μαθουμε περισσοτερα για αυτην΄ και το ονομα. Ειδα φωτογραφιες και δεν υπηρχε τιποτα κοκκινο, μονο μπλε κι ασπρο?)
Built in a privileged spot with an stupendous view of the caldera and Fyra, Red Bicycle Restaurant strikes the eye immediately. Climbing up the few steps to get a seat on the spacious verandah, you pass the ‘observatory’ window where a stunning photo of Maria Callas presides, hinting at the kind of music that will be accompanying your dinner. The waitresses are all friendly, knowledgeable individuals with a bohemian air, and the feel-good décor combined with the dramatic scenery lend the place an atmosphere that is both metaphysical yet familiar.
The kitchen’s high standards are kept in place by executive chef Ghikas Xenakis while the chefs, Isabeau, Vasiliki, Vasilis, Anestis and Elias, turn out dishes that are both gorgeous to look at and exciting to eat.
Thanks to the ultra-fresh ingredients, chosen with care from local producers, a meal at Red Bicycle Restaurant is elevated to a memorable gastronomic experience.
We especially liked the:
- Salad with garden vegetables and crunchy Volaki cheese from Andros, lavender-scented honey, and figs marinated in raki.
- Santorini dakos (rusk) topped with marinated local tomatoes, Chloro cheese, tomato ice cream, and rock samphire drizzled with luscious oil from green olives.
- Anchovies marinated in Assyrtiko vinegar and oregano, couscous with ‘waterless’ Santorini courgettes, mayonnaise made with sun-dried tomatoes and ouzo foam.
- Grilled calamari on creamed white tarama, cucumber salad and coriander.
- Smoked eel from Arta on creamed fava with caramelized grapes, tarragon and celery sauce.
- Salad with feta marinated in Vinsanto, hearts of watermelon with wild fennel tips, purslane and a sorbet of honey and ouzo.
- Vine leaves stuffed with bulgur and oxtail, egg-lemon truffle and crumble made with smoked pork.
- Thinly sliced sea bass, lightly marinated, and served with pickled artichokes, bottarga and seaweed.