“Kos is one of the nearest Greek Islands to Turkey and is very similar to our country as it was under Ottoman rule for many years. I'm not exaggerating when I say that some of the places on the island remind me of the holidays I spent in Izmir. With its beautiful restaurants and friendly people, I am sure that Kos will find a place in your heart."
-Ufuk Kaan Altın
Kos is one of the larger Greek Islands and can be reached in 40-45 minutes via the daily ferries leaving from Bodrum. The traces of a long history ranging from the Carians to the Ottomans can be felt on every street corner.
There are many places to see on this charming island: remains from before the Common Era, mosques from the Ottoman period, and the centuries-old tree identified with Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine. But make sure to dive into the back streets first. Anyone who experienced Izmir in the 1980s will be reminded of Bornova. You will find yourself saying, “I wish Bornova had stayed like this." What a pity it hasn't.
Once you have wandered the streets, fallen in love with the place and felt a little sad, it's time to eat. Maybe your blues will be overcome by joy once you are seated – and I'm not talking about any ordinary meal. My first suggestion is Nick the Fisherman. I'm sure some of you will think “Why Nick, and not Nikos?" Well, Nikos used to use this name while he was living in Australia. Nikos migrated back here last year and his son, Larry, runs the 20-year-old restaurant. We don't get to meet that day but thanks to dear Elver (Manioglou), we don't feel his absence. I'm sure your curiosity has been piqued once again – Elver is one of the people who migrated to the island from Turkey. He has roots in Konya and is descending from the Seljuk Turks. He speaks Turkish fluently, just like many people living on the island. Even road signs are in Turkish in some places and Raki can be found everywhere…
Great service and food
Let's return to Nick the Fisherman… Elver explains things delightfully and I leave myself in his skilful hands.
First, he brings garlic scallops in olive oil. The scallops are almost raw, as they should be, and melt in the mouth. Next comes the warm smoked mackerel. They don't have mackerel here but it's specially brought to the restaurant. I'm not really interested in the octopus dumplings to be honest, so let's skip them. But I love the dish of king prawns in white wine sauce. This is a delicious, slightly sour dish with cream, olive oil and a little mustard. After that, Elver brings stuffed squid and grilled octopus. The stuffed squid prepared with a filling made of tomatoes, green pepper, feta cheese and parsley is simply delicious. Elver explains about the octopus: “The Greeks do not eat boiled octopus because they think it must have been frozen. It's not something that we are used to. When you order grilled octopus here or on one of the other Greek Islands, what they bring is grilled octopus which has been tenderised and then left in the sun in its own salt. You may find the octopus a little hard, so just drizzle a little bit of olive oil on it, and then squeeze some lemon juice."
I drank a 20 cl Raki with this delicious lunch. The bill came to €40 but they crossed it out and decided to make it €30. What nice people!
A real family business
After resting for a while and starting to digest my meal, it was time to visit Barbouni, directly opposite Nick the Fisherman. In fact, two years ago, my journalist friends and I had the opportunity to try this stylish restaurant at lunchtime. Nothing has changed since then; it is still as beautiful and just as delicious.
The only difference was that this time I got to meet the owners of the restaurant. This is a real family business; the mother, Sevasti, the brother, Christos, and the sister, Sotiria, are in charge. They are cordial, friendly people who also have roots in Karaman. They migrated from Karaman to Thessaloniki a long time ago.
They opened Barbouni by the sea just three years ago and they have built up a considerable customer base since then. They are doing a good job and are reaping the fruits of their efforts.
When I say “I am finished"…
Let's see what flavours are coming from the kitchen. I order a very fresh salad, grilled halloumi, prawn saganaki and a 20 cl Raki. With the salad, they bring a small fried pita bread and some slices of fried bread with olive oil drizzle. These are accompanied by olives, olive oil and a kind of peppery sauce.
Let me tell you a little bit about the prawn saganaki. The prawns are very tasty and are in a watery sauce made with tomatoes, peppers and feta. The mother, Sevasti, then wants me to taste the sea bass marinated in lemon that they make. She succeeds in convincing me. The sea bass is fresh as if it were raw. It is cooked in lemon juice and enriched with olive oil. It's as simple as that.
I had no room left to eat any more fish at noon, none at all. Even so, I said, “Maybe I can taste a little something." They brought out some sardines. The presentation was very nice, but it's hard to say the same about the flavour. It's not the restaurant's fault though; the fish were not fattened yet.
Even though I had finished, they didn't want to let me go. Semolina cake made according to the mother's recipe with a side of vanilla ice cream is brought to the table. The flavour was very refreshing.
See you soon!
I tried to pay the bill but to no avail. All I could do was to invite them back to Istanbul. You can expect to pay €60-70 for dinner here, Raki included. And it will be a very satisfying meal for two people.
I left the table happy and with peace of mind. I felt tired but blessed. See you soon!
Nick the Fisherman Address: 21 G. Averof St. Kos Tel: 00 30 22420 23098
Barbouni Address: 26 G. Averof St. Kos Tel: 00 30 22420 20170 www.ilovebarbouni.com
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