Travel 2 minutes 01 September 2023

Athens : two exceptional restaurants promising a sustainable fine dining experience

These two establishments from the MICHELIN Guide Athens selection – both with a Green Star to their name – are making sustainability a cornerstone of their work.

With its infinitely rich terroirs, Greece's gastronomy naturally tends towards all things local, with cuisine revolving around the country's diverse agricultural production, excellent livestock farming and abundant fishing. In the world of fine dining, many establishments are going one step further by keeping close tabs on their supply chains from one end to the other : some keep their own vegetable gardens, others rear animals for meat, and all are committed to reducing their carbon footprint and their waste. At the same time, they are forging partnerships, based on exacting standards, with suppliers, who are also glad to be moving towards sustainable practices that are more respectful of the environment. Theirs is a holistic philosophy with a focus on the future, and it gives us an idea of what tomorrow's restaurant industry could resemble.

Restaurant Soil
Restaurant Soil

Soil, a Garden of Eden

Located in the heart of Athens, in a neo-Classical house in the trendy Pangrati neighbourhood, the restaurant Soil has a secret : its huge organic vegetable garden in Alepochori, some 60km outside the Greek capital. Blessed by the gods with a view onto the silvery waters of the Gulf of Corinth, the garden abounds with vegetables, fragrant herbs, plump fruit and edible flowers.

At Soil, it's the menu that is tailored to the daily harvest from the kitchen garden, not the other way round. The approach goes further than simply serving seasonal cuisine; it implies a great capacity to adapt. " When produce isn't ripe, we can't use it; when it's ripe, we have to hurry up and incorporate it into our menus before it's too late ", says Tasos Mantis, a very humble chef.

A highly talented cook, but also a skilled gardener, he knows how to work with nature to create the dishes that will grace his menu. He was taught by his father to cultivate the land when they both lived on the Aegean island of Lesbos. After gaining experience abroad, Tasos Mantis returned to his homeland with a desire to serve diners sustainable cuisine inspired by the bounty of his native Greece.

For Tasos Mantis, "farm to table" is a founding philosophy, where the chef tunes in to nature. It is a way for him to be able to know where his supplies come from, to ensure that the quality of his raw materials is impeccable and, above all, grown ethically. In addition, the ceramics used in the restaurant are made to measure by craftsmen whose expertise and livelihoods are sometimes in jeopardy – another facet of maintaining sustainability.

Restaurant Delta
Restaurant Delta

Delta, sustainability as a principle

Delta's futuristic-looking restaurant is housed within the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center, a glass and concrete complex designed by star architect Renzo Piano. With 10,000m2 of solar panels and a large hanging Mediterranean garden, it is one of the greenest buildings in Europe. It produces almost 85% of its own energy, and has been awarded LEED Platinum certification, the highest environmental standard for buildings.

It is the perfect setting for the Delta restaurant, where sustainability is a guiding principle. Everything is different here, starting with the cuisine, which leans more towards the Scandinavian than the Aegean. Chefs Thanos Feskos – an alumnus of Geranium in Copenhagen – and George Papazacharias – who completed a long stint at Maaemo in Oslo – have brought home with them a different way of working and a strong ecological consciousness.

True to the lessons they learned in northern Europe, the two chefs use only local produce in their cooking. Vegetables, fruit and flowers are sourced from the restaurant's biodynamic farm just outside Athens ; the herbs are grown on site, on the roof ! When it comes to fish and seafood, they work with artisans who practise sustainable fishing. The same applies to their partner farmers and market gardeners, all of whom are bound by strict specifications.

Another of Delta's founding principles is to deliver a zero-waste culinary offering. All food must be used up – any surplus is reused in other dishes, preserved or composted… as long as the golden rule that nothing should go to waste is adhered to ! Delta is also proud to propose vegetarian and vegan set menus alongside the "omnivore" set menu, in a bid to reduce its ecological footprint.

Finally, the restaurant's green credentials also extend to playing an active role in society. Most of the staff are Greek, with a team made up of young talents representing the future of the industry. The aim is to promote local creativity but also, crucially, to ensure that valuable know-how is passed on to the next generation. A fittingly educational aspiration for a restaurant located right opposite the National Library and with the National Opera nearby.

Restaurant Delta
Restaurant Delta

Hero Image : Restaurant Soil

Discover the Athens selection here


Keep Exploring - Stories we think you will enjoy reading