On our recent honeymoon/summer vacation, the most anticipated destination for my wife was Santorini in Greece. In fact, we put off our honeymoon until this summer (even though we had our wedding last fall) specifically because Jun wanted to visit this dreamy island that is featured in countless Instagram photos and travel magazines/blogs when the weather is at its best. So, was Santorini worth it for a honeymoon? We stayed in Oia, the most famous of all the beautiful villages in Santorini known for its whitewashed houses, and its scene overlooking the caldera was certainly one of the most breathtaking sights Jun and I have seen on our travels. What about the culinary experience in Santorini? I have an advice: stay away from the caldera! When I was looking for restaurant reservations in Santorini, I was focusing mostly on where Jun and I can have a romantic dinner (i.e. the view mattered the most). In Oia, a restaurant by the name of Ambrosia came up a few times on my Internet searches so I decided to visit the place hoping to have a solid dinner with Jun and toward the end of our meal face a gorgeous sunset. Not only did the sunset not come out (at least the way we had expected), but our meal at Ambrosia left a lot to desire, especially at a price point that rivaled that of an upper-echelon establishment in Manhattan,
The menu at Ambrosia looks promising at first. Santorini is well-known for its fava beans, so the puree made with the same beans along with smoked eel, caramelized onions and sun-dried tomatoes sounds not only healthy but also a great introduction to Mediterranean cuisine. It was indeed one of the dishes that Jun and I both liked. Then came the grilled octopus, which we always try to order whenever we can because we both love octopus, wrapped with kadaifi Greek pastry, accompanied by roe mousse. First of all, why wrap a grilled octopus unless you are not confident with its quality? That was indeed the case, as the texture in the octopus simply wasn’t there and the kadaifi was a major distraction. Jun declared this octopus THE WORST octopus dish she had ever had, and it was hard to disagree with her.
Jun is an excellent pasta cooker and I am very confident that she could cook a better linguini than the one the kitchen brought to us. The portion of seafood (shrimps, mussels and baby squid) in the pasta was tiny, the tomato sauce tasted like it came straight from a can and the noodle didn’t have the firm texture that I typically look for. Tender beef fillet that we ordered for main dish (it was very bizarre that Ambrosia had more meats than seafood in the main dish section) was just OK (we specifically asked for medium rare but the kitchen brought out something closer to medium), with uneven seasoning over the meat that lessened our enjoyment. Even the dessert, called “Ambrosia Delice” with chocolate mousse, chocolate crumble flavored with vanilla, minced mango, pine apple and passion fruit sounded better than it looked or tasted. Adding insult to injury, when I looked at the bill, I was shocked that I was paying something closer to 200 euros (inclusive of wine). I guess this is the price for admission to get a sunset dining experience, right?
Getting a reservation at Ambrosia wasn’t too difficult and the turnover at the outdoor dining area (filled exclusively with couples) was fairly quick so getting seated won’t be an issue so long as you contact the restaurant a few days in advance, although I can’t predict how busy this place will be in peak times (we visited Santorini in late June just before the tourist season is in full gear). The service overall was friendly and there are some exotic Greek wine selections that you could try if you feel adventurous (especially on the reds section). I don’t know when Jun and I will return to Santorini (we both agreed that it is perfect for a romantic getaway like honeymoon but not for repeated trips), but next time we visit, we will certainly avoid the caldera area (the next day, we had a quick lunch at a restaurant, this time in the village of Fira, that was overlooking the caldera and was better than Ambrosia, but not enough to give 8.0 or above KenScale rating). As you will see in the next review, Santorini offers more rewarding options if you decide to look inward.
KenScale: 7.0/10 (Jun’s Score: 7.0/10)
- Creativity: 7.5/10
- Execution: 5.5/10
- Ingredients: 6.5/10
- Flavor: 7.0/10
- Texture: 7.0/10
- Value: 5.0/10
Address: Oia, Santorini 847 02, Greece