Minas Alefragis owner of the restaurant I Spilia tou Nikola17-02-2015 14:10Mr Minas, tell us about your restaurant, when did it start operating?
My grandfather, Nikolos, opened a small tavern back in 1967, which is why this place has his name. We keep working on his dream for the last 47 years. We are in fact the third generation continuing what he started.
What kind of cuisine and recipes can one find here, at the Spilia tou Nikola (Nikola's cave)?
Our cuisine is based on original Santorinian recipes, with the 70% of the materials used, coming from our own fields and production. We produce our vegetables and we do have our own meat.
What are the dishes you suggest to people visiting your restaurant?
I would definitely suggest the tomato balls, for which we've been awarded. We also make a variation of the original recipe, as we added fish inside, and we also won prize for that too. Our customers love the baked eggplant, the authentic local fava, the vegetarian mousaka, the fried lamb, the fava risotto... In general, everything is prepared with fresh local ingredients and it's worth tasting.
What about your wine list? What varieties does it include?
I like to change the wineries I trade with every single year. In that way I offer my clients the chance to taste something different, but I keep all the local wineries satisfied at the same time. I feel this is the right thing to do. Our list always includes the varieties "Nychteri", "Asyrtiko" and the "Mavrotragano", all of which come from local producers.
How much does it cost to eat at your restaurant? Which is the price per person, without the wine to be included?
I would say that the price is about 13-14 euros. With that amount of money, he will try the basic dishes. A rich order would reach 35 euros, if you wish to taste more dishes.
Since the restaurant has such a long history, I guess you've made some good friends who keep coming again and again, right?
Well, I have a story to tell you. A few years ago, I saw a woman running towards the tavern shouting "here it is" and before I stood up to welcome her, she was gone, letting me surprised! After a few minutes she came back with a party of four people and she shocked me by showing a unique picture I never imagined it existed: it showed my mother when she was pregnant with me! That woman and her friends had come to our tavern back in the '70s as students and they now returned old and married, and they were seeking for our place, hoping it would still be open. It was such a great surprise to see them and such a touching experience to see their special gift!
Let me ask something else. Santorini is among the lists with the best tourist destinations worldwide. What do you think that has changed throughout the years, as fas as food is concerned?
I would say that those who work in the field of food right now show much more professionalism. For some years, between 1995 and 2002, businessmen were treating "bad" the visitors, but then some great chefs came to the island and taught us how to create unique dishes based on our authentic Greek cuisine. The competition and the economic crisis have made us try more and become better year by year. So now that tourists read and seek for the best, we are at the pleasant position to offer them what they need, and I am happy to see that the younger generations that have now undertaken old taverns work harder for the best result.
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