At Salis restaurant you will taste Crete like nowhere else on the island – or in the world. Innovative pairings of exclusively sourced local farm to table ingredients. Traditional cuisine updated with modern flair and creativity.
Greece is famous, in my eyes, for preserving their classic dishes. Taking a seat at the average taverna will leave you with joyous tastebuds celebrating simple, delicious flavour that has been faithfully maintained for generations.
But Salis is not the average taverna. And if you’re a foodie in search of unique cuisine worth traveling for, you are going to be happy to learn why.
Nestled in a prime spot on the harbour front of the city of Chania, head chef Afshin Molavi is busy playing boss and host. The sea air rolls in calmly as water laps the boats in this leisurely harbour – the real activity is the throng of visitors lining the wharfs and filling the many restaurants that surround the whole bay.
This area is the place to dine, socialise and relax in Chania. But the most exciting part is what is going on in the kitchen.
We tasted 12 dishes during our degustation experience. And a lot of wines! Including some from the Manousakis-Nostos winery, run by family members of the restaurant.
In fact, it seemed like almost everything we consumed that night had some sort of family connection. Almost like the ground and the sea where the food came from was part of the family too. Crete really is that sort of place.
Here are some of the highlights of an inspiring meal experience:
Octopus in vinegar is a mainstay of greek coastal cuisine and featured widely on menus. So, how about octopus carpaccio? In this unexpected preparation, the classic option, which would usually be a somewhat chewy affair has been transformed into a light, melt-on-the-tongue experience.
The average Cretan adult is said to consume 50 litres of olive oil per year. A healthy drizzle of Crete’s “liquid gold” on the carpaccio was just enough for a foreigner like me to start getting into the Cretan diet.
Next, Taramasalata – a cold spread made with fish roe. Home made here at Salis with local fish roe of grey mullet from trikalinos bottarga. It’s like the sea was churned into soft butter.
A true foodie experience is not just about the food. It’s also about art. About design. And about theatre.
The third course came with it’s own sage leaf smoke screen. Watch the video and you’ll see what I mean.
Behind the smokey curtain, amberjack tartare, similar to tuna. So fresh! The fish is delivered by hand to the restaurant because the fishing boats literally park at the wharf outside the restaurant everyday.
If you’ve read much of this blog before you may have noted an almost unhealthy obsession with cheese. I like to consider cheese discovery as more of a science than an obsession. And as a scientist, I’d like to announce my findings.
Grilled Ladotyri (translates as “oily cheese”) with home grown and handmade mandarin marmalade, is a revelation!
An almost sweet and sour flavour mixed with the creamy, salty cheese. I’ll admit this could be one of my favourite dishes not just of the night, but in Greece. And it’s so simple. Cheese with marmalade. Quality ingredients never fail.
The Main Event
The first of many main courses to sample: Spanakorizo is like a spinach risotto.
It includes baby squid and wonderfully salty clams. It also contains fresh goats cheese made by one of the owner’s mother – did you expect anything less?
Unlike a risotto, spanakorizo contains no Parmesan and no butter. Remember what I said about Cretans consuming 50 litres of olive oil per person? I think you can guess the secret ingredient here.
Then came Tuna seared with sesame crust. Including a side of wild rice with mango from Souda bay. Who’d have thought they even could grow mango on Crete! But turns out they have one of the most interesting micro climates in Europe.
Next up, deconstructed pasticcio with wild truffle from agios nikolao. Not pictured because, well, deconstructed often just means mess… But what this dish lacks in presentation it more than makes up for in flavour. Pasticcio is like a Greek version of Lasagne. It doesn’t normally come with truffle and it also doesn’t normally come with the bonus this dish did…
Chef Molavi loves the crispy corners. There are never enough. So he creates more by crisping up some local graviera cheese and sprinkling all over the dish.
The final main was lamb. The slow cooked lamb was everything you want it to be. Falling off the bone. But a surprise favourite was the accompanying burnt carrots. Holy caramelisation! They did not last long. Not long enough to photograph either!
It’s not over without sugar…
One of the best new combos I have become enamoured with in recent times is “caramel and salt”. The first dessert played perfectly to this little indulgence.
Caramel mousse with salt from 3 different beaches of Crete. Served with creme anglaise.
But possibly their unique version of panna cotta is sure to drive the hard core foodies insane with jealousy:
Panna cotta with mastika (A liqueur seasoned with resin from the Mastic tree) sat in a yoghurt, melon and mint soup with Gazoza (local lemonade) and garnished with chopped bell peppers from Florina from northwestern Greece.
The palate refreshing cold soup moorishly compliments the creamy panna cotta. Heaven.
Chef Afshin Molavi has created something incredible at Salis.
Their highest quality, fresh local ingredients will not make it off the island. The people of Crete are too busy enjoying the best the micro-climate has to offer and the only way you’ll taste this incredible local produce, as well as the delicious innovation, is to get on a plane and head to Salis restaurant.
Where to stay in Crete
Minoa Palace Resort
This luxury beachfront resort & spa features 4 pools & offers a variety of dining options & elegant accommodation. We very much enjoyed our welcome gift of fresh fruit and a local bottle of wine – Thanks Minoa Palace!
Hotel options in Chania:
Set in a restored 17th-century Venetian monastery.
Situated in the Venetian Harbour, right at the heart of the Old Town. 10 min walk from the beach
Decorated with antique furniture, Casa Leone overlooks the charming Venetian Harbour.