Tis Pandoras is one of four fish tavernas in Ammodi Bay, Oia (pictured above).
All morning we swam in deep waters. Ammoudi doesn’t have a regular beach with sand. There are cliffs of rock from which you can either jump into the water, or walk down carefully on steep slippery stepping stones. The sea here is very cool. The only things in sight are sky, rock, mountains, and the sun. We worked up quite an appetite.
It’s a short walk from the swimming cove to the tavernas. The other 3 restaurants offer more standard Greek seafood fare. Sunset Taverna is known for its lobster spaghetti which I will be sure to try in my next visit to Santorini. Tis Pandoras, however, has an overall more inspired menu. I have access to traditional tavernas all year around, and I was curious to try traditional recipes with a twist. Having said that, we ended up trying relatively familiar Greek recipes.
No owner would need to create much atmosphere as the tables are seated right next to the sea. Divine! But you could still notice personal touches in everything- the wild descriptions of food on the menu, the cooky candle holders on the table, and quirky works of art inside the kitchen.
We started with one of my favorite appetizers, deep fried miniature shrimp (Garidakia). They were topped with chopped parsley and lemon juice. The shrimp tasted fresh and scrumptious. It was maybe a tad too greasy for my taste, but Niko (my regular dining partner/boyfriend) loved them a little oily. The batter was pretty thick and crunchy, which was a nice balance texture-wise with the shrimp.
To the side, you can see the my bitten bread spread with the smooth salty olive tapenade which was served to us at the beginning of the meal.
The second meze (appetizer) was my favorite: Octopus in vinegar. After we finished it, we ordered a second. It was incredibly tender, yet not overcooked. This is important! It should be neither tough, nor mush- just like cooked veggies. I asked the chef how he accomplished this perfect balance, and he said that when you stew the octopus in vinegar and water, add an onion to the pot. Once the onion is fork tender, you should remove the octopus. I tried this trick and it worked! He seasoned the octopus with another dash of vinegar (probably red wine although I use Sherry vinegar which is awesome), dried oregano, fresh parsley, and capers. I loved biting into a caper and slice of octopus in one bite. It had a spicy edge to the flavor since capers are so much more pungent in Santorini (for more about Santorini ingredients, see older posts).
Our last shared plate was this restaurant’s most notable dish (though I still preferred the octopus)- Stuffed Calamari. This was the biggest Calamari I have ever seen! Seriously. This Calamari was on steroids or something. It is stuffed with feta cheese, green pepper, and onions, then drizzled with an oregano seasoned vinaigrette. We both really enjoyed the filling, and there is so much of it that we spread half of it on the rest of our bread. My only criticism is that the cheese overpowers the flavor of the seafood a little too much, and it needed a bit more green pepper in the stuffing.
As usual, Niko didn’t want dessert, but I always do. Before I ordered, the chef sent out a complimentary orange cake, fresh out of the oven and very warm. This would also be a wonderful winter dessert, but still enjoyable sitting under the sun. Its orange flavor is intensely vibrant, and the shreds of coconut in the batter is scrumptuous. It is drizzled oh-so-lightly with chocolate syrup. I found this a sophisticated move, as most Greek restaurants drench everything in sauces and syrups.
Instead of working off the meal with the 200 steps back up to Oia (hey, we swam all morning, right?) we ordered a cab back up to our hotel. 🙂