Of all the lovely restaurants at which we ate in Santorini, one of our favourites was ‘Floga’ in Oia.
Situated at the bottom of steep set of steps (all the steps in Oia are steep, your thighs will be mighty by the end of your trip, don’t even think about taking high heels!) it shares the route that the donkeys use to take goods down to the port. Charming to watch, less charming when you have to follow them down and the donkey clean up man hasn’t appeared yet…
With a small(ish) outside terrace and larger cave style seating area inside, Floga boasts the most spectacular view of the caldera. Intimate tables laid for 2 are exquisitely set and candles sparkle in the warm night air. Floga is a deeply romantic and, for me, just the right amount of cheesy. Gorgeous waiters beam at you as they pour hearty glasses of wine, smug couples glow in candlelight, surreptitiously taking selfies when they think the others aren’t looking.
We are given the smuggest of the smug tables – right in the middle of the dramatic large centrepiece window, giving the best possible view.
Extra smug points in fact because for everyone else there you are the view. I whisper this gleefully to Mr TGE who rolls his eyes and attempts to refill my wine glass to distract me. A horrified waiter promptly wrestles the bottle from him, aghast that we would even try to lift a finger for ourselves! Each of the waiters wears an earpiece, I assume so the kitchen can tell them the moment the food is cooked to perfection? (I don’t know, maybe they’re listening to The Archers…?) They glide effortlessly between the tightly packed tables with gleaming smiles, like really helpful sharks. They offer delicious things, refill glasses before you realised it was nearly empty (glasses are never allowed to be empty) and are so attentive that at times they risk crossing over into pervasiveness. It’s a narrow line to walk and they mainly succeed in staying on the right side.
Romantic ballads play softly in the background and the moon shines brightly, causing ripples of silver light to dance across the ocean. Between the wine, the moonlight, the view, and Mr TGE/gorgeous waiters, I’m misty eyed. I give myself up to the ambience totally. It’s the kind of place that, if you were so inclined, you could roll your eyes at, but why would you? We drink a delicious hearty red wine and as we gaze into each other’s eyes a familiar tune begins to play…
Mr TGE’s eyes widen in alarm. “Don’t”, he warns, “no seriously don’t”.
“Nobody will mind” I assure him, gathering my skirt in preparation, “they’ll join in!”
“They won’t! This isn’t Mama Mia-”
“-Yes” I continue, “it basically is. We’re in Greece and they’re playing ABBA, they WANT you to stand on the table and sing, they’ll all join in, you watch…”
At which point our main course arrives, Mr TGE breaths again and I have to content myself with singing Super Trooper gently under my breath.
We both ordered Lamb neck in honey, thyme and aged vinsanto sauce served with fresh baked mashed potatoes aromatized with carrot. ‘Aromatized’ I understand from the mash to mean ‘has bits of it in’ and I like it – the mash is creamy and smooth with flecks of carrot throughout. The lamb is unbelievable, generous in portion and so soft in falls apart. It’s sweet, but not overly, the vinsanto sauce (vinsanto is a Greek desert wine) lifts the dish to another level, giving it both a sharp and sweet bite. I could lick the dish clean if I wasn’t so full. There’s a dramatic curl of pitta bread which is there more for aesthetic affect than taste. Again, it’s a touch that could annoy others but I think is fun.
The dishes are whisked away and we discuss how entirely full we are and how we can’t possibly order a dessert. Obviously we order the baklava.
I’m a sucker for baklava, I know it’s an obvious thing to order when in Greece and not particularly adventurous – but why fight a classic? Our waiter grins at me when he places the enormous slab in front of us. “It’s a corner bit” he whispers conspiratorially, “they’re the best bits.” The sweet pastry is delicate, flaky and fantastically nutty. The middle layers were gooey and sweet with honey and a hint of what I think was rosewater. Served with a generous dollop of vanilla ice cream, we are well and truly stuffed by this point; however, dinner was not quite done…
As well as the bill, we are delivered a couple of complimentary drinks, a fairly standard gesture for most of the restaurants in Oia. However, these are not standard glasses… they are smoking, bubbling and billowing dry ice like tiny witches’ cauldrons, particularly effective in the moonlight. Presented, as everything is, with a flourish it’s a totally unnecessary, super-ostentatious and delightfully fun way to end the night! Again, it’s another trick which I imagine would make some people roll their eyes. I’m not so sure what my Uncle Tim’s (who’s a proper food critic, no seriously, like a real one, he judges pies and everything, you can read his stuff here -https://riponia.wordpress.com) opinion would be. It’s a gimmick for sure, but on a warm spring Santorini night when you’re in a beautiful restaurant shimmering with candlelight, full, happy, ever so smug and slightly tipsy, why not relax and enjoy?
With wonderful (if slightly keen) service, a beautiful view and even better food, Floga was the perfect holiday restaurant.