When in Mykonos, there is a wide range of restaurants to choose from. But one not to skip, is the Restaurant & Bar Cantina, located at the San Giorgio Hotel. Because I stayed there, I had the luck of not only sampling all their different dishes, but also to sit down and talk with the restaurant manager about the concept, the food, and his signature. The restaurant & Bar are, like the hotel, a place to relax and enjoy the food and company, while soaking in the breath-taking views of the Aegean sea. Communal tables with wooden benches are placed around the pool, no frills, no fuss, just good food and conversation, like being a guest at a friend’s place.
The eye catcher at Cantina is the back wall of the bar, boasting fresh herbs, produce and bottles of olive oils. On the bar and in baskets around it, there is fresh fruit to prepare their juices, desserts and cocktails. The decor immediately sets the tone for what to expect: pure and fresh food.
The menu and recipes come from restaurant manager Yanni Triantos. Yanni was born in Greece but raised in Germany and Switzerland. In 1992 he moved to the USA where he worked at five star hotels in Cape Cod, and Key West, before opening his own restaurant in Miami. In 2012 he returned to Europe, ready to inject his creativity into something new. The dishes are versatile, rustic and tasteful, but not too fancy. “The menu reflects the flavours of the world,” he says. “It is Greek but with a global twist. I use e.g. influences from my time in Key West and Miami, where Caribbean flavours prevail. Good food needs to have a crisp, a crunch, and be creative. But most of all it has to be fresh and you need to know where it comes from. Therefore we like to work with local farmers. We also have our own herb garden on the property”.
According to Yanni you know when it’s good when you can take a bite and taste everything together. “It should be balanced, well seasoned with salt and pepper, be colourfull, last but not least, have quality ingredients”.
Breakfast at Cantina was the highlight of my day. I always sat in a little nook, surrounded by the bare walls with a peek a boo window overlooking the sea. What a blissful way to start the day! Everything at breakfast is home-made. From the bread, to the apple tart and granola biscuits. I sampled just about everything on the menu. Most popular with all guests is the Greek yoghurt parfait with honey, walnuts and fruit.
I would highly recommend to visit Cantina for a breakfast, no matter what hotel you are staying in. Tried and tested, and still thinking about: the buttermilk banana pancakes with maple syrup, the poached eggs with arugula, bacon and feta cheese, the french toast topped with strawberries, or the mushroom and chevre omelette with tarragon and shallots. My favourite eggs were the mint and zucchini omelette with red pepper, onion and feta cheese. Or have a go at the scrambled eggs with spinach and tomatoes.
Lunch at Cantina is just as good as breakfast. From 13 till 18 o’clock you can savour the flavours of the Mediterranean. There are four different salads, and not just the ordinary ones. How does a tabouleh salad sound, with bulgur wheat, grilled prawns/chicken, mint, tomato and parsley? Or try the Arugula salad with grilled Manouri cheese, pepper and tomato.The pastas are just as exciting: prawn and ouzo linguini, or zucchini and feta spaghetti with fresh mint, garlic and spring onions. I also put my teeth in a delicious tuna steak burger with ginger, basil mint and wasabi lemon mayonnaise. Besides other burgers and sandwiches they serve up the best mezes. Delicious hummus, fava bean puree, grilled octupus…need I continue?
The dinner menu is just as impressive as the breakfast and lunch cards. I tried so many tings that I don’t even remember. Everything was fresh, full of flavour and light. You can choose from different starters, main courses and desserts. There is plenty of fish, veal, and chicken, all served with pure and rustic side ingredients like e.g. lentils, asparagus or eggplant. Dining at Cantina is a feast for your palate and your eyes!