This trip that I took wasn’t just a normal trip. It wasn’t a once-a-year travel blowout. It was my honeymoon. You only get one of those, if you are lucky, and it can’t be all about running around to ancient relics, looking for weirdly flavored potato chips at roadside gas stations and shopping in the local equivalent of Target. You also have to relax with your new spouse, sleep in late, and take it easy.
I am a more “ants in my pants” kind of traveler, so this was hard for me at first.
But, eventually I settled into it. I enjoyed sleeping until the sun was high in the sky. I loved sitting with a book looking out over the Aegean. I even let up my guard and booked dinner at a romantic restaurant instead of the one that got the highest reviews for eating.
There was my mistake.
Avra, in Mykonos, is highly recommended for its Mediterranean menu and romantic, vine-covered, trellis-lined outdoor dining area. You definitely need reservations and it does look extremely romantic with its candlelit tables, verdant atmosphere, and mellow soundtrack.
Of course, the kids running around helter-skelter don’t really help the vibe, but we ate very early by Myconian standards, so it’s hard to blame them for that.
The dips are a mixed bag. The tapenade is very mundane – salty and tasty for sure, but if I can get it at home or in the grocery store, I’m not so interested in paying for it on vacation. The Roquefort butter is marvelous – creamy and smooth, with a rich, buttery taste that is sweet at first and then fades to an umami, slightly funky Roquefort aftertaste. It’s soft and spreads easily on the rather mundane bread. This stuff is great.
*Side note: you always pay for bread in Greece. When they ask if you want some, expect to be charged 5 Euros for it and the accompanying dips. Always order it, anyway…there are usually at least one or 2 dips that are worth the price of admission.* Tzatziki
Delicious, if not memorable. Creamy, fragrant with dill and spicy black pepper. It isn’t as garlicky or as thick as some versions, and is finished with some rich olive oil to add another layer of lushness. I ate all of this and would eat it again without reservation, but can’t say that it stood out among the tzatziki I sampled this trip. Halloumi wrapped in bacon
The standout of the night. The European style bacon, more flexible than the bacon that we are used to here, wraps well around the pleasantly squeaky, bouncy cheese. It’s grilled so that the bacon is salty and charred and the halloumi softens and becomes pleasantly melty. Some lemon juice brightens the dish and is the ideal, unexpected finishing touch. My husband almost stabbed me with a fork to ge the last piece.
Simple and tasty. Steamed in white wine flavored with plenty of pepper, dill, and woodsy oregano. Every single mussel was open and sweet - no bad mussels here. They are juicy and very mild, with just a touch of salinity. The only downfall here is the broth – it is merely serviceable.It lets the mussels naturally sweet flavor shine through, but it isn’t craveable. If I’m not lapping up the broth with a spoon at the end of the meal, something is wrong.
At the end of the day, Avra is fine. If I lived in town, I would come here for the lovely surroundings and the fabulous halloumi appetizer. But on vacation, it just isn’t tasty enough. You can’t rely on romantic atmosphere on a touristy island because – hello! – people travel with kids. And the price is a little high for the food. So this wasn’t a major winner.
But that’s okay…because lunch the next day was insane.