The Cook shop – Tavern Agios Efrosinos
The Agios Efrosinos Tavern is located off the main square of Loutraki. Loutraki is a pleasant seaside town adjoining the city of Corinth. The tavern has existed continuously as a Cook shop for fifty years. A family affair, owned and run by the Gerou family from the 1950’s until the year 2000. In 2007 Michalis Damianos assumed ownership. He completely renovated the space in an unusual and interesting way, shaping it as an old time Grocery – Cook shop. Thus re-creating a mood of the past that is simple and inviting; especially when the fireplace is lit in winter! The menu is chosen by Michalis. He cooks all the dishes himself with the help of his assistants, Konstantina, Roula and Sophia.
Michael graduated from the School of Tourism in Rhodes in 1984, and since then has been employed as a manager and chef in various hotels and restaurants in Attica and the Cycladic islands. Not by chance did Michalis, the proprietor and chef, give this exceptional, traditional, Greek restaurant its name, Agios (Saint) Efrosinios is the Patron Saint of cooking.
Michalis, who trained as a chef at some of the top culinary schools, and, has been chef in many well-known Greek tavernas and restaurants, throughout mainland Greece and its islands, had always had a dream, a dream that one day he would own his own restaurant. A place where people could share his incredible passion and nostalgia for healthy, wholesome, home cooked food.
After years of travelling Greece, three of them spent sailing the magical, blue waters of the Aegean seas, gathering knowledge and experience, not only of culinary techniques, but, of local herbs and spices, and, how to incorporate the purest, freshest ingredients into the most mouth-watering of dishes, Michalis knew it was time to settle down. He dropped anchor in Loutraki, a charming little coastal town, just an hour’s drive from Athens, and, began his search for premises that would suit, not only his pocket, but, mostly, a place which resembled the image that he had carried, over the years, in his minds eye, of how his establishment would look.
In 2007, Michalis discovered the perfect place, tucked away in a little street, nearby to the Church of Saint John; a neighbourhood once know for its tavernas and eateries, here, he would bring back a memory of how things used to be. He set about creating his dream, a small, intimate, inviting magirio, a concept, where, no menu is needed, the chef prepares a variety of simple, tasty, homemade dishes and displays the food in front of you, to choose. This is a practice that goes way back in Greek history.
Agios Efrosinos was born, a place to linger, to take time to savour delicious homemade, traditional Greek dishes, accompanied by good company and good local wine. Michalis will chat with you, help you choose, explain how each dish is cooked, which ingredients he used, and why. He will tell you exactly where a local cheese, olives or wine come from.
Only the best, quality produce is used, always fresh and always in season, Michalis searches the local region to find this, sampling it himself, only buying, if it meets his high standards. With these ingredients, the most amazing dishes are created by Michalis, simple, traditional, tasty and wholesome, food as it should be, as it was before the trend for fast food, full of chemicals and preservatives, served in brightly lit, impersonal surroundings, where, customers, order, eat and leave as quickly as possible.
A visit to Michalis at Agios Efrosinos is to be transported back in time, to another era. Shelves are adorned with bunches of local herbs and spices, jars of locally produced pasta, bottles of local wine and olive oil, giving the place the appearance of an old-fashioned bacalico (Grocery). Artefacts, collected by Michalis on his travels, an old olive press, large glass bottles and urns, used to store wine and olive oil, are placed here and there. The way, in which Michalis has decorated this wonderful place, helps reveal his character, his spirit, his philosophy about life, about food and how to enjoy both, to get the best out of both, simply and slowly, savouring every moment.
Agios Efrosinos has been created with “Meraki”, a Greek word, meaning; doing something with pride, with love, with your soul. A visit to Agios Efrosinos, is not only to experience exceptionally good Greek cuisine, it is to gain knowledge of the relationship between Greeks and food, it is to feel the very essence of Greece and the Greek spirit. Here, where Michalis is living and sharing his dream, helping people to find their way back to simple, homemade, traditional Greek food.