Text and photos by Cesare Zucca
For my first night In Athens, I discovered a real hidden gem called Nice n Easy, a cosy restaurant located in the quiet and romantic Omirou Street, n.60.
Nice n’ easy, inspired from Frank Sinatra’s well known song offers a beautiful menu based on quality and simple organic ingredients, carefully chosen. The dishes, created by the well known Chef Christos Athanasiadis, are a blend of Mediterranean flavors, keeping an eye to the tradition and the innovation. In the ‘savvy&healthy’ menu I found the place of origin of each ingredient, calories, and the nutritional value of each dish.
Many of them have a screen legends ’signature’ from
Between the pastas stands up (who else…) the Sophia Loren, a gluten free vegetarian dish with skioufihta pasta, wild mushrooms, organic baby tomatoes and aged Cretan Graviera cheese flavored with thyme. Talking of screen goddess, here comes Audrey Hepburn grilled wild mushrooms with gorgonzola, flavored with thyme and Brigitte Bardot, where carrots, zucchini, baby corn, soya and bamboo sprouts meet noodles made of konjac root, that has zero calories, is rich in fiber and, thanks to the glucomannan, it absorbs liquids in the stomach, improves the level of glucose in the blood and decreases cholesterol, helps to detoxify the body and to stabilize the glycemic index and cholesterol levels. Viva la Bardot! I loved the gluten free Sean Connery, baked wild fresh salmon with barley crust, herbs and citrus, on quinoa tabbouleh with mustard- honey sauce. For meat lovers I suggest the succulent Frank Sinatra, prime beef flank tagliata with marinated grilled zucchini, organic baby tomatoes and truffle oil.
All paired with an intense Thema 2016 made of assyrtico, probably Greece’s most striking white grape from Drama, Northern Greece.
More than anything, ‘nice n easy’ is a way of living. It’s the food, it’s the music, it’s the people and it’s the moo. Nice n’ easy in open all day for lunch and dining, coffee and cocktails, not to mention a fab Sunday brunch.
A ‘NICE AND EASY‘ INTERVIEW WITH CHEF CHRISTOS ATHANASIADIS
by Cesare Zucca
Where do you find inspiration to create a dish?
I look at the nature around me. I observe at the seasons, I look at what grows out of the soil, the characteristics of a place, is there a sea, is there a mountain at the area? In general, I look at what nature has given me and take those natural and local resources and create something new.
What convinced you to become a chef?
My grandmother had a big impact on me and influenced much my decision. She passed me on her love for food and the idea of being authentic, all of which helped me find my talent as a chef from a young age.
How do you express your personality in the kitchen?
I have to say I’m strict but very tolerant to mistakes as I believe that we learn the most out of our mistakes. Most of all I try to inspire my fellow chefs to love the kitchen environment even more through the position of a leader and not a manager. Is there a food you love only if cooked by another? Ravioli with anthotyros cheese dipped in butter that my grandmother used to make.
How relevant is the greekness in your dishes?
All of my dishes and all I create spring up from the greekness that had been developed since the day I was born and have intimately within me.
What or Who inspires you? Why?
I get inspired by geometry, shapes, clean lines and colours. If I had to name someone I would say Thomas Keller because his dishes are very constructed, because of his creativity and the way he converts a food scene through his unique “plasticity” and last but now least I really like his personality.
Connery, Monroe, Elvis…Nice n Easy menu has often stars names. Why?
Because the creativity element that stands out within the nice n’ easy restaurants is authenticity. We believe that the old era of Hollywood is one of the most authentic ones in the history of arts. We’ve tried to find elements that each Hollywood star liked and combined those with our plates.
Eros and food, a proven combination.
Your aphrodisiac dish?
Ganache with back chocolate and chilly.
A food we will always find in your fridge and one that we will never find.
You will always find basil because I really love and use it frequently in many of my dishes. You will never find coriander as I’m allergic to it.
You are the guest of honor in the Mater Chef Grand Finale. What would you do to impress the audience?
I would be myself. You can only impress by being the authentic you.
On your chef’s life, any curious episode?
300 pieces of wedding cake that were completely destroyed by the truck that was transporting them to the location and we had to make up for it within only one hour. We did it!
Open the drawer and tell us your dream.
To end up, after a long journey, to my beginnings; in a small restaurant by the sea in a beautiful island with only 5 tables. I want to serve people feet naked, go fishing in front of the restaurant and to live the everyday sun along with the authenticity of the location.