Ampelaki in Argostoli is a short walk closer into town from Kyani Akti, the other Greek restaurant I visited the night before which failed to make the heart or genitals flutter. Many of the restaurants in Kefalonia are blessed with pleasing surroundings, at Ampelaki we have a main road, parked cars and a runaway chicken – stay with me on that. There is of course a terrace that joins onto the main restaurant, a teak coloured room with beige tiles. Outside there are ancient pavement slabs, rubbed smooth by centuries of footfall, with a view overlooking the sea which is obstructed by a terracotta tiled house, but the beguiling mountains are in sight above. Ampelaki is our last dinner of the trip so expectations are managed to expect dishes based on only one or two flavours – nothing is complicated here. It’s not just about the food of course – it’s the views of sun-dappled sea, the blue-and-white houses and picturesque beaches I may not see for another few years.
Wine from Kefalonia – it’s one of the blessings of this world.
From our order, crab croquettes €5.70 came first and are nothing of the sort, well let’s say they were imitation crab sticks diced with spring onions and then fried until golden. The mayo it comes with resembles kewpie, a sweeter Japanese cousin of the regular stuff which comes with more tang than what we know of in the west. These are all good things and I could say that they were the best starter we ate during the trip.
“Fresh fried small fish” were lightly battered anchovies which tasted like they were netted a moments ago in the sea 20 yards away. With a squeeze of lemon, they are a seriously tasty snack for adults.
The boss goes for grilled octopus €15.90 with chips cut so rustically they could be mistaken for the work of a small child. They seem to cook their octopus here until the edges crisp and blacken. There’s no prior tenderisation of slow simmering so they’re crunchy, much like the others we had on the trip.
Seeking out what the island is famed for, I went for the meat pie, a thin pastry country style slice filled with stewed down chopped veal, pork and rice. The flavours of tomato are prevalent and herbs. I ate all of the nutty rustic chips, for all of their asymmetrical appearance they held their own.
“Sokolatopita” €3.80 is their version of “chocolate cake”, and it’s my version of a warm, sticky, lick the spoon clean brownie. The icing dusted sauce was dark and luscious , only the light vanilla ice cream balanced out the decadence.
When did I go? Sept 2018
The damage: Expect to pay €30/35 per head with wine
The good: What I’ve discovered about eating in Kefalonia is that striking flavours don’t really exist, but fresh ingredients fashioned in a rudimentary way do. It’s great when you’re not in a prissy minded mood. Amepelaki does just that with gleeful service and value. It’s holiday food I’m happy to have a fling with and go home.
The bad: It can be teetering on tedium
Would I go again? Still deciding…
Address: Ιωάννου Μεταξά 26, Argostoli 281 00, Greece