Nolan: Athens’ Master Blender
Fear of missing out (FOMO) finally led us to the door of Nolan last week: the all-day concept restaurant in Syntagma that’s had fashionable foodies all aflutter since opening in December.
At Nolan, Chef Sotiris Kontizas (pictured above right) is masterfully blending shades of Japan, Vietnam, Korea and China with indigenous Greek touches like an in-demand Hollywood make-up artist. From the outset, we just loved the idea of an Asian-Greek culinary mash-up. Five years ago, this kind of exciting creative cuisine was all too rare on the downtown scene. Now, more and more start-ups like Nolan are helping to re-shape the gastronomic landscape of Athens into something more comparable to other sophisticated European capitals.
True to its urban surroundings, the décor at Nolan is bright and thrifty, with a fresh minimalist palette. Glass partitions, marble and gray mosaic and comfy black chairs stir echoes of owner Costas Pissiotis’ other venture, PBox in Kifissia.
The eclectic menu changes regularly but we’d done our homework, and opted for those signatures dishes that apparently showcase best what Sotiris Kontizas can really do when let loose in a kitchen.
That meant going for the “burnt” cauliflower and cabbage salad with walnuts; the Korroke (Japanese fritter with mince, potato and carrot encased in panko breadcrumbs); and his briny cockles in smoked oil broth with yuzu peanut and coriander. Neither could we resist Kontizas’ Fast Food play: NFC (Nolan Fried Chicken), served in a deep bowl with lots of redemptive green vegetables. All were deserving of their good rap.
Some diners may not be fans of the order system which means dishes come when they’re ready – which sometimes puts you out of step with your dining accomplice. On the other hand, Nolan’s strictly non-negotiable non-smoking credo means your tastebuds will relish every bite without distraction.
Unlike many other fusion restaurants, there is a lovely simplicity of execution here. Dishes make the transition from menu to plate with minimum fuss or embellishment – in a non-pretentious way that brings to mind the very best tradition of that favourite neighbourhood tavern you can’t help going back to.
The food also manages that not so common feat of being creative and nourishing, both at the same time. Nolan is open from noon every day (closed Mondays). Expect to pay around €30-40 per person for a 3 course meal with wine.
Nolan, Voulis 33,+30 210.324.3545, www.nolanrestaurant.gr