Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Going Greek - The 1800

I'm jumping around here a little bit in chronology, but this post is sort of gnawing at my brain and I wanted to put it out there on the blog. Plus the legions of people (read: 7) who read this blog were asking about it.

Saturday the 30th of July was our last night to hit up a nice restaurant in Oia. The next day we were going on a dinner/swim sunset cruise in the caldera of the volcano and Monday we were going to rent a car and drive the island before our flight that night at 11:30 pm.

I was reminded of a comedy bit by Dave Attell while in Greece. He once said, "You know what Vegas doesn't have? A zoo. And you know what? After 4 days of drinking, doing drugs, and seeing strippers...you kinda wanna see a panda." To modify that quote, after 5 days of eating nothing but authentic Greek food, I kinda wanted to eat something different.

We found it at The 1800 in the center of Oia's main shopping street. The 1800 is an old sea captain's house that overlooks the caldera. It's filled with all kinds of interesting artifacts which we never saw. The reason is because as soon as we got there at 7 pm (first and only ones there again!) we were ushered up to the rooftop seating area to enjoy the view, while all the stuff is inside the restaurant.

The funny part is that when we got up there, they asked "Do you have a reservation?" We said no and the host said, "You can have one of these 2 tables," and gestured with his hand. Keep in mind...there is no one here at all. It kind of reminded me of the scene in Meet the Fockers when Greg couldn't board his flight even though no one was at the gate. To put a bow on that story, by the time we left around 9 pm, only 4 other tables were seated out of the 12 up on the rooftop deck, so I'm not sure why they made a big deal about the reservations.

But this post isn't about semi-snobby Euro maitre'd's. It's about Iron Chef-level food porn at its finest. The interesting thing that caught our eye immediately about The 1800 is that every one of their menu items is "The ____". For instance, DB~ tried to re-create the magic of Kandouni's by getting "The Risotto" which was a very good tomato-infused risotto. But it wasn't the same for her. She enjoyed it, but it wasn't a life-altering experience like with the Butter Risotto.

For an appetizer, we had The Rabbit. I'm a fan of eating rabbit. DB~ is a fan of looking at furry rabbits and petting them. And never the twain shall meet. Until now.

One of my favorite dishes of all time was a rabbit loin that I had at Mesa Grill in Caesar's Palace in Vegas. It was expertly prepared and seasoned with a light cream sauce and dill. My mouth just watered.

The Rabbit at The 1800 may have just entered my personal top 10, even as an appetizer. This dish had everything going for it -- presentation was off the charts and the taste was outstanding.

The rabbit was shredded and served on a rectangular piece of warm brioche bread. Surrounding the rabbit were little dots that looked like those yellow-red pills in a drugstore. Except the red part here was rhubarb extract and the yellow was an orange cream sauce. The gray circles you see are eggplant panacotta. You were encouraged, borderline ordered, to utilize the various sauces to accent the rabbit.

DB~ actually enjoyed the rabbit, against all internal restrictions she may have had. Periodically, I encourage her to let me make it for her at home and she gets a look of sad regret on her face like I'm going to run over Thumper from Bambi with my car, wipe his still fresh blood under my eyes like war paint, and use his pelt as a hat...all after I flop it down on a plate for her to eat. (Maybe I'll sneak it in on her one night and tell her it's chicken...).

For my dinner, I went bold. I'm a big proponent of ordering something on a menu that you can't make yourself or that you don't see commonly. I went with The Rooster. Recently on Chopped, one of the ingredients was Coxcomb which is the rooster's fleshy red plumage on top of his head. This was just the rooster meat itself.

When it came out, I was again moved by its presentation. The perimeter was lined with Greek grapes and tiny pillows of ricotta gnocchi that were melt-in-your-mouth/can-I-sneak-into-the-kitchen-and-steal-more great. Connecting the two sides of the plate was an asparagus extrusion cream for dipping.

The rooster (or The Rooster) itself was odd. It came out looking like a water bottle turned on its side. It was topped with a nice garnish of shredded asparagus, which was a creative way to serve it. The only problem I had with the rooster was its texture. It was dense. This sounds weird, but chicken and pork have some "air" between the meat strands when you chew it. The rooster just hung around your mouth until you had the audacity to swallow it. I liked it, but would probably not order it again.

Subsequent posts will get the Greek back in this joint, but I'm glad to get that one off my brain.

1 comment:

  1. So, indeed, no adult-sized litter boxes(*thumbsup*), but plenty of coxcomb?

    Not sure what to make of that. Lemme process ta bit and get back to you.