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Zakynthos trip report

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We spent a week on Zakynthos recently, our time was spent at the north end of the island up in the hills between Agrios Nikolaos and Volimes. After spending two weeks earlier in the year on Crete, eating like King Minos himself, we found the food on Zakynthos to be less impressive. There was an overall lack of fresh fish beyond farmed Dorado and local bream, very little lamb and not much more than very standard taverna fair. This is not to say we did not eat well, but not as well or as pleasurably as on Crete.

The very small, 4 room, hotel was Boutique Hotel Galini. The only food on offer was breakfast but it was quite good, fresh bread and fruit, homemade preserves, meat, cheese juice and a selection of Nespresso's capsules.

We had a kitchenette in our room therefore we did have a few simple salad and bread meals on the terrace looking out over the Ionian sea towards the Peloponnese coast.

Mikro Nisi, a cove side taverna south of Ag. Nikolaos. Standard fish as mentioned at the opening of this report, very nice grilled bread with dip, decent dolmades, the fish was grilled nicely but the grilled vegetables on the plate were exceptionally thin in quantity (2 pieces of zuccini and 1 piece of eggplant). The real reason to go here is the cove side view, very beautiful and peaceful.

Horizons, on the main road about 1 km south of Ag. Nikolaos. We did come here twice after it was recommended by our hotel owner. They had a couple of additional fish beyond the bream and dorado and on our first visit we enjoyed a grilled fagri. Nothing outstanding here, but everything was well prepared and tasty... the service was very friendly and efficient. Nice sea views, hence the name of the restaurant.

La Grotta, in Ag. Nikolaos town. This place has a great big terrace on the wrong side of the road from the beach but does a brisk business. Typical menu her, although the calamari was quite good as was the bubblegum pink taramosalata dip. The atmosphere was a bit depressing given it’s in a fairly run down old hotel, which I do not think was impacted directly by the current economic problems in Greece as it appears to have been run down for some time.

Beachside Restaurant (sorry I can't remember the name, but it's the only big restaurant in Ag. Nikolaos that has tables on the beach). We were warned Friday nights (our arrival night) are Greek theme nights with music, dancing and plate breaking. We were also warned it was mostly patronized by the local British expat community who all seem to hail from Chelsea (not that there is anything wrong with that). We skipped the theme night but did go back on another evening. Once again, typical menu but perhaps a little more disappointing given the great beach/waterfront location. I expected more and left disappointed, as such nothing to remark on our dishes.

Nobelus, about 500 metres south of Ag. Nikolaos. This place has a big sign indicating it's a "Bio" (read organic) restaurant with lots of seafood. We also found out by surprise this is the high end option for the area in a very nice hotel down near the water. Unfortunately the service was beyond horrible and coloured our visit. As we didn't have a reservation we were offered a table for 1 hour, which was fine as we weren't in for the night and really just wanted main courses. I ordered the Youvetsi, which was tiny with hardly any lamb, and my wife the pastitsio, an old favourite. The pastitsio was served with two starches (rice and fried potatoes) which was not necessary given it was a pasta dish... a good side salad would have been best. Not ordering lobster or multiple bottles of wine left us excluded from service after our food was finished, we waited 20 mins with empty glasses and another 15 after finally getting someone's attention and asking for the bill. We would have been out of there a lot sooner, and given the table back, if they'd actually waited on us.

Last, was Niko's by the Sea, near to Mikro Nisi on the main road heading south from Ag. Nikolaos. This was the only place not to serve a standard Taverna menu, they had some very interesting mezes (greek sausage and prawn skewers, fish cakes and pork meatballs in sauce) as well as some very good looking mains. We opted for all of the mezes I listed and I had their lamb chops with home style mashed potato. A surprisingly great meal, nothing to complain about from the time we sat down to the time we left. I had been nervous to eat here as it was a tour bus lunch stop every day, but we risked it one night and I'm very glad we did.

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