Would you prefer to eat with your hands or with a fork and spoon? If it’s the prior you could dig into a crispy chicken skin tacos with chocolate sauce, sour cream, and mango, or dip your bread into succulent mussels with cucumber sauce, pickled mustard seeds and ponzu cucumber; if the latter, try beetroot with gorgonzola croquette, baby leaves and walnut, or scallops with muslin peas, beurre blanc, and smoky pancetta. If you’re going to be traditional and use the old knife and fork duo you’ll still be rewarded with taste-bud-teasing dishes like lasagna with mushroom ragout, Jerusalem artichoke bechamel, and truffle gravy.
You’re at Lost Athens, a new (opened in November 2019) Asian-Mediterranean-American fusion restaurant in hip Pangrati which offers these exciting dining options and more. The menu, separated into four sections, defying the convention of separating the menu into starters, mains and desserts, classifies it by how foods are eaten – ‘With Hands’, ‘With Fork’, ‘With Fork and Spoon’ and ‘With Spoon’, spells fun, creativity, originality and indulgence all at once.
Created by young entrepreneurs Vasilis Stefanakis and Giorgos Tzoumas, the restaurant caters to city-dwellers who like to be themselves and to experiment with life. Apart from its original food menu, Lost serves up an enticing selection of craft beers, which have become an increasingly popular ingredient in Greek life over the years. With micro-breweries setting up all over the country and creating some truly exceptional varieties, lager lovers get a chance to accompany their dish with special local varieties.
“The concept here is for people to share a variety of dishes in the middle of the table and just enjoy the tasting adventure of trying many different textures and flavours. Everything on the menu harmonises together, even if the flavours and styles may differ dramatically.” The restaurant staff knows to bring dishes at different intervals depending on their temperature. Upon arrival, guests are offered the soup of the day in a cup, which for me was carrot, ginger and sesame oil, and bread (the black bread with cumin and coriander was delicious) with mousse-like truffle butter.
Chef Kostas Nasiopoulos has combined a variety of his best food experiences and ‘dream recipes’ he’s been fantasising about creating for years. His meeting with Vasilis felt like it was ‘effortless but meant to be’ as there was an immediate meeting of the minds as to the vision they shared. Kostas has combined street-food concepts with refined cooking techniques and sophisticated as well as feel-good and indulgent ingredients. “This is food with no borders – it’s from our souls,” he says. “We’ve put our hearts into creating it just right. Our crispy chicken skin tacos took three weeks of daily practise to perfect,” he says. “We make everything from scratch here – sauces, bread, chutneys, jams, first-ingredient dishes that are not based on processed ingredients like cold cuts or cheeses. Nasiopoulos is a big believer in using seasonal ingredients and in combining experiences and ideas instead of imitating anything you can find elsewhere.
The décor here, created by Circus agency, also run by Stefanakis who has a background in graphic design, matches the restaurant’s gastronomic profile to perfection. The uplifting yet a little edgy and moody urban setting features chic but laid back and post-industrial floors and furnishings like comfy leather armchairs and minimalist artworks.
With ‘The Chill Journey’ (referring to the coolness of beer served here) as its motto, it features humorous messaging, such as a ‘Enjoy Your F**ing Dinner’ spray-painted in red across a wall. “That sentence is not a gratuitous excuse to swear,” laughs Stefanakis, who is from Thessaloniki and has in the past opened several establishments in Volos. “It’s a message targeting today’s busy, over-worked, low attention-span world, because people rush through everything, including their meal, so this message aims to remind them to just be in the moment enjoy their dinner!”
“This is a place that welcomes every style of person, in whatever mood or clothes they may be when they come. The simplicity in decor is deliberate; we are not building expectations of a gourmet, fine-dining experience but in fact that is what we are delivering; our menu is meant to surprise and delight you,” Stefanakis, says. With a love for travel and especially with the aim of trying new things, he was especially influenced by the dining scene in Copenhagen. “I like things that are different and without borders. I can’t stand labels and the idea of having to abide by the ‘shoulds’ and ‘should not’. I think problems make you creative and lead to novel ways of thinking, and that’s what we are trying to offer here.” Lost is on Archelaou 7, Pangrati (open Tues-Sun, 13:00-00:00).