Travel: A Restaurant Not to Miss in the South Ionian Greece – Mills on the Hill
Last month, in the attempt to extend the great summer we had in New York, I decided to sail around the islands in the South Ionian Sea in Greece with some friends. I was just in Greece earlier this year in April, as if the beautiful scenery and rich history wasn’t fascinating enough, I was also deeply impressed by the warmth of the people and the incredible Greek cuisine. This time around, though we were exploring a completely different part of Greece on a sailboat – mostly smaller islands and ports that are not as common and touristy as the other places I visited last time – we, again, were spoiled with the best natural landscapes around us and had some of the best Mediterranean Greek meals we could ever asked for.
Of all the places we visited, one of our favorites is called Kioni on the island of Ithaca – it is a quaint little port with a small village built around the hills over looking the marina. Like the typical marina town, there are cute taverns and cafes lining the water front area, and the local houses and buildings nestled along the hills behind. With the crystal clear turquoise water and the mixture of fishing boats and private yachts mooring at the port, the scenery is as picturesque as it can get.
Once we tied up the boat and get ourselves settled for our stay, we got on shore to find a nice place for dinner. As these taverns all sit right on the water, they all have quite amazing water view of the charming port, judging on the view didn’t really help us narrow down our options. Right before we dig further in through the menu offers, we saw this placed called Mills on the Hill – just as the name suggests, they not only have a seating area by the water, the tavern extends into the hill behind it. With small staircases along the ascending landscape, there are small tables set up at the ledges of the hills in all different levels, not only that it offers a view from above overlooking the whole marina, there is also a hidden romantic vibe to this whole setting. Without a second thought, we chose a table right in the middle of the hill and got ourselves comfortable.
The menu is filled with an amazing list of Mediterranean signature dishes, while the drink menu has a great selection of local beer and wine, and the prices seem to be very reasonable. We started our meal with Grilled Octopus and Steamed Mussels in White Wine Sauce – it’s hard not to load up on seafood while dining in Greece. The grilled Octopus is prepared in a traditional stone oven grill, the meat is tender and soft with a light crunch on the outside from the charcoal, it has a hint of smokiness but not overpowering the freshness of the octopus. Can’t go wrong with the mussels either, fresh taste straight from the ocean, with great aroma from the wine sauce. Simplicity is the name of the game!
For the main dishes, we ordered quite a feast for the table – we had Grilled Squid with Beet Sauce, just because we can’t get enough of seafood, Lamb Stifado, which is a hearty Greek stew that’s slow cooked in red wine, vinegar broth and onions, and a roasted goat to top it off, just because we never had goat before, and it is surprisingly flavorful and not too gamey. Needless to say, everything is cooked to perfection with beautiful seasoning but still light enough to allow the natural flavors of the food shine through. Last but not least, we finished the meal with a giant piece of home made Baklava, nothing beats a traditional pastry dessert that’s wrapped in filo layers light as air and soaked in fresh golden honey.
It’s hard not to have a good time while having a vacation in Greece, but on the occasions when you hit jackpot by finding an amazing local restaurant with breathtaking view… surrounded by good companies with good wines in hand, you know you’re not getting short changed in life. If you have a chance to visit Greece in the South Ionian region, make sure you don’t miss the town of Kioni. And if you manage to get to Kioni, make sure you don’t’ miss Mills on the Hill, even just for a coffee or a quick drink, the view and experience is something you won’t want to miss.