The authentic Greek flavors Bangkok has been waiting for.
Run by Greek owners, and helmed by a Greek chef, Avra promises the authentic Mediterranean flavors Bangkok has been waiting for. From its Santorini-evoking blue-and-white color scheme, it’s not hard to guess this is the place for some dips and pita bread.
Chef Konstantinos Sarrimavrogenis, from the port city of Thessaloniki, goes beyong Greek salad (B220) with crispy fried appetizers like tigani feta (feta cheese wrapped in crispy rolls, served with honey, sesame and orange, B235) and dolmadakia (grape leaves stuffed with rice and herbs, B225). The pita bread (B50) is some of the softest in town, and comes with delicious best friends tzatziki (yogurt dip), melitzanosalata (eggplant dip), fava (split peas dip) and taramas (cod roe dip), at B135-195 each. Or opt fot a dip plate at B250 for three dips of your choice.
Mains span moussaka (layered minced beef with eggplant, potato and zucchini, B390), xtapodi me fava (grilled octopus and caramelized onion on yellow split pea spread, B395) and gyros kotopoulo (grilled chicken kebab with onion and tomato, B290).
There are also desserts like sokolatopita (chocolate cake smothered in chocolate cream, B150) and drinks like Greek-style coffee (B70) and traditional aperitif ouzo (B180).
Compared to its Mediterranean neighbors, Greek cuisine is severely underrepresented in Bangkok. That’s a shame. At least we now have Avra to serve up the country’s meaty, tangy, olive oil-doused dishes. From its Santorini-evoking blue-and-white color scheme, this long, slender restaurant does a great job replicating the boisterous atmosphere of a Greek taverna.
The outdoor terrace might not offer too much excitement (it’s the lobby of a hotel, after all), but inside is a charming mix of whitewashed stone walls and hanging earthen pots that doesn’t overstep the line into kitsch. When we last visited on a Wednesday night, the place was close to full with several large groups taking advantage of the four-course evening set menu (B650, eat-4-pay-3), while the owners and chef worked the room with smiles and small talk.
The food mostly lives up to the surrounds, too, starting with the mezze. The pita bread (B50) is some of the softest we’ve tasted in town. Order it with tzatziki (yogurt dip), melitzanosalata (eggplant dip), fava (yellow split peas dip) and, our particular favorite, tarama (smoked cod roe dip), at B135-195 each, or get three of your choice for B250. These dips are arguably the star of the place, recurring in various meat and seafood mains such as the excellent xtapodi me fava (grilled octopus with fava, B395). The octopus tentacle is just the right chewiness and comes with wonderful charred notes, but what really elevates the dish is the caramelized onion which cuts through the dense fava.
The xorini souvlaki (grilled pork on skewers with pita bread, tzatziki and fries, B320) spotlights tender, well-marinated chunks of meat—don’t mind the bland fries. The moussaka (layered minced beef with eggplant, potato, bechamel and zucchini, B390) is a hearty casserole that stands out from lasagne for its sweet, juicy eggplant that’s balanced out by the savory beef.
Desserts are not to be overlooked. The Turkish-inspired kataifi (B200) is evidence of the chef’s upbringing in the Eastern port city of Thessaloniki. This nutty, syrupy treat tastes like a mix between baklava and Thailand's foy thong, topped with an eggy custard, cream and a liberal sprinkling of cinnamon. It’s totally worth the calories.
Not everything is a hit—the spanakotyropita (pastry with spinach and feta, B195) are like hollowed-out spring rolls—but there’s plenty worth revisiting for. Competition may be scarce, however Avra does a convincing take on the fresh, well-rounded flavors of Greece. For the full experience, order a glass of Tsantali ouzo (B180), an anise-flavored spirit typically mixed with water, to sip throughout your meal.
This review took place in June 2016 and is based on a visit to the restaurant without the restaurant's knowledge. For more on BK's review policy, click here.