May 2001, a seemingly insignificant event happened in Bali. A Greek restaurateur, trying to avoid the soaring rents elsewhere, opened a small Greek Taverna [warung size] on the barren road [Jln. Laksmana] that led to the Oberoi Hotel often referred to, at that time, as Jln Oberoi. All around were rice paddies and open fields and the road was terrible [some things never change].
The little Mykonos was popular from day one! Whether it was the simple but tasty food, the crazy low prices, the thumping bouzouki music in the background, or the ever-present smiling owner, who knows? Many people noticed its success and an endless stream of new restaurants subsequently opened in the triangle that is Jlns. Raya Kerobokan, Laksmana and Petitenget. To my knowledge there are currently 56 restaurants of 13 different cuisines. Another 29 have opened during that time but failed and closed. No doubt many others are on the edge at the moment. Restaurants in this loop seem to either; succeed, muddle along or fail dismally.
Now buildings line these three roads, and the centre is a maze of villa complexes.
A recent return visit to Mykonos amazed me as to just how much it had changed from those early days of small menu; entrees, appetizers and mains all seemingly mixed up. Now it is a professional operation with an attractive menu that is still 100% Greek and still all-value, as before. The restaurant has been extended at both ends since the original. And of course the man himself is back presiding over proceedings after his little franchise expansion exercise. He was not the first person to ever realize that you can not be in ten places at once!
Old favourites are still to be found on the now expanded menu. Tzatziki [yoghurt and cucumber with garlic and dill], Melitzanes [eggplant with feta cheese, lemon, dill and garlic], Humus [chickpeas with tahini, yoghurt, lemon and dill], Sahanaki [melted feta cheese with tomato, oregano, garlic, dill and olive or the Special Version with fresh prawns on top] and the spicy Feta Pikandiki [feta cheese with chilli powder, oregano, tomato and dill] dips, accompanied by warm pita bread of course.
Other appetizers include the wonderful Manitaria [sautéed mushrooms and onions, garlic, and diced paprika, scattered with crumbled feta cheese], the Melitzanes Mykonos [a baked eggplant stuffed with fresh tomato and feta cheese] and those pastry cousins; Spanakopita [stuffed with spinach, feta and dill] and Tiropita [filo stuffed with mozzarella, egg and feta].
It is with the main courses that you see the biggest difference from the original Mykonos. Lamb is always a Greek specialty and here it is no exception. Sure they always cook it with lemon, oregano and garlic, and it always comes with grilled/roasted potatoes, but is there a better way? The Lamb Chops are finger-licking good and the Medallions are so juicy and tasty! The Lemonato [a steak cut from the leg] is sensational.
The Kebabs are succulent and great value, as is the Centrecut of Beef, whilst the Chicken Leg [really a quarter of chicken] is baked in the oven, crispy skin and juicy flesh, just perfect! One of my favourites has always been their Mixed Grill [lamb chop, chicken kebab, meat ball [kefte] and souzukakia [combination mince of beef and lamb, Balkan style]. The Mouzaka can be served Vegetarian or with bolognaise sauce between the layers. Bifteki Makri is a new popular dish; minced lamb and beef is grilled in sausage form, cross sliced and topped with melted mozzarella. Fantastic!
There are so many other options, including many vegetarian ones, that you could dine here every day for a month and always have something different.
If you can get past the Baclava [walnut filo pastry topped with canela syrup and ice cream] then try the Loukumades [mini donuts topped with honey, canela and ice cream].
A great value drink list, included cheap bottled wine, friendly happy staff who actually seem to enjoy working there, those spine-tingling bouzoukis, and the ever-present Marinos. What else could you want.....a plate to smash?
As they say, it is always fun to dine at Mykonos!
Mykonos has now been taken over by young Dutch restaurateur Arjan Prenen. Most of the same staff remain as does the menu, sensible enough not to change a successful formula? The murals have been freshened up and the premises slightly enlarged but without spoiling the unique atmosphere. Live music sometimes and a few ongoing special dishes, still one of the few restaurants still thriving on Eat Street as the great value has never changed!