Impressions and photos from another special FNL event in Thessaloniki, when we transformed the popular Ten Tables into a fine-dining restaurant for one night.
The idea started from last year’s awards, one of the reasons why in 2022 we awarded Manolis Papoutsakis as Chef of the Year at the FNL Best Restaurant Awards was his boldness to propose a tasting menu in a tavern. Of course, Ten Tables is not a common “meze” shop-tavern, but Papoutsakis still proved that the tradition of meze can be brought closer to so-called haute cuisine simply by paying attention to the serving order and introducing the logic of the degustation menu. We decided to take this thought of Papoutsakis one step further.
With the help of A.A.Danou we set the tables of the restaurant differently to bring it closer to the logic of fine-dining. But the essence was the food itself. Manolis Papoutsakis’ well-known appetizers were “tweaked” a bit, set up differently and those of us who were there ended up having a different, unique experience that was very enthusiastic and talked about!
At exactly nine o’clock, almost all participants were already seated at the three large tables and enjoying either one of the Greek premium soft drinks Three Cents or, in a first appearance, a top white (from Xinomavro), sparkling wine – with the traditional method of Campania: The Scaperdas Frères Méthode Traditionelle Blanc de Noir NV from Amyndeon and the Kyr-Gianni. Its fine bubbles and delicate, complex aroma opened the dinner and accompanied an excellent series of “amuse bouche” that set the theme of our dinner and set the bar high. I honestly don’t know what to pick first from this set! The light crawfish “puff”? The exquisite scallops with lamb sweetbreads, fennel, almond and lemon? The famous raw kimchi stuffing? They were all unique bites: beautiful, imaginative, delicious!
The conversations were heated and were mostly gastronomic. Loyal customers of Ten Tables, some of our guests did and did not recognize the dishes they were tasting and everyone enjoyed the special moment we were having, and the wine was delightful. Doubia, the Greek gastronomic water, refreshed our palates with its fine bubbles and just like that we moved on to the next …chapter of our dinner.
In our glasses we were served the very interesting white vermouth from Kyr-Gianni, the complex and botanical Veroni that was paired with Three Cents Dry tonic in a very interesting ensemble that had a difficult goal: to match with a variation on “fricassee” a deeply delicious dish of wild herbs, lamb and quail egg. We didn’t quite achieve the goal, but at least we enjoyed a nice dish and got to know a very special product.
Second of the “regular” dishes, the fish: a juicy grouper with mushrooms, katsuobushi and soya in a thick chowder. A fantastic dish and a fitting pairing with a top rosé wine aged twelve months in barrel just released by Kyr-Gianni: Agathoto comes from Naoussa and a special vineyard of Xinomavro and is produced in just 2400 bottles. The main courses ended with the wonderful quail that matched perfectly with the 2015 Good Root, the well-known Xinomavro from Amyntaio that, after eight years, is now at its peak spot.
The dinner ended with a delicious Armenoville and an array of sweet bites. Alongside them was a fragrant Taf Fazenda Tres Meninas espresso from Brazil: exuberant, bittersweet with aromas of cherries, tofu and brown sugar. But we also had the chance to taste a rich, red sweet wine surprise from Kyr-Gianni, a “Xinomavro” that is – rightly – still in the aging process but showing its potential.
It was now past midnight and after applauding the kitchen team one question dominated: when and where will the next FNL event in Thessaloniki be?
*Photographs Studio Andritsos