I never considered myself as a beach holiday person but after a recent trip to Molyvos (also known as Mithymna) on the island of Lesvos in Greece, well, I’ve learned that I definitely can be. I stayed four days at the Delfinia Hotel for a friend’s wedding and apart from the wedding there was plenty of time to explore the village and laze by the pool.
Greek time is fantastic…everything seems to go in slow motion…or maybe it was all that napping by the beach and hotel pool that made it feel like weeks rather than days! And the food! The food was generally utterly fantastic and always fresh – these were my favourite bites during my time there.
On the day we arrived, we were all pretty shattered after an overnight flight and connection at Athens and after long naps, we rose at about 4pm to have lunch and were driven by the bride-to-be to Taverna Vafios just outside Molyvos (their website has a good map). Oh, how we feasted as if we hadn’t eaten for years.
Toasts grilled with olive oil and oregano arrived first with a Greek salad that started my love for feta cheese. That toast sure came in handy for sopping up all the delicious sauces from our main courses.
The meze were all fantastic. Onions were stuffed with rice and meat and aubergine balls were little fried fritters of the mashed vegetable.
Cheese pies were fried and well…there was cheese in lots of things – stuffed into courgette flowers, put into tomato fritters, and one of my favourites, fried!
Main courses were generally good but these two were excellent. Chunks of tender pork had been cooked in wine and oregano and was my favourite dish but lamb with chickpeas was also fantastic, having been cooked with just a hint of cumin.
This wasn’t even half the food for all of us (I think about 10 in total) and along with a few beers and ouzos, the meal came to only €15 for each of us.
After even more lazing about by the pool, we met up later that night to eat again. This time, our destination was in Molyvos, in its harbour. Their working harbour is lined with fishing boats bringing in fresh catches at all times of the day; needless to say, there are plenty of cats waiting for a treat. Facing the boats are lots of restaurants and ours was near the end – The Captain’s Table.
Among the meze shared on the table, of particular interest were the salted sardines (sardeles pastes). The sardines served on Lesvos are quite well known and this is one particular method that is popular to eat with ouzo. They are fresh salted sardines and their flesh has been cured by the salt. They’re, you know, salty but very tasty if a little spiny. We also had some amazing anchovies served with lots of olive oil but I didn’t get a good photo of them.
Individual main courses were ordered and many of us went with The Captain’s Platter which was just as humongous as it sounds. There was a variety of grilled fishes, from sardines to a whole sea bream, as well as a large grilled prawn and some fried calamari. Everything was incredibly fresh and delicious and I struggled to finish even half of this plate. A bite of a friend’s grilled octopus was equally fantastic.
Again, with drinks all around, the meal came to €15 each again. It was an absolute bargain for all that seafood. Almost all the seafood served here had been caught locally by the fishermen in the area.
The Captain’s Table
The next day, while wandering around the harbour and village in the morning, we came across lots of octopus tentacles hanging out to dry in the sun – these below were hanging outside of The Captain’s Table.
It’s a brilliant sight and one that triggered our visit to the Octapus restaurant in the harbour for lunch. Oddly enough, we didn’t order any octopus! We did have a few meze though.
Their tzatziki was very good and very garlicky and, of course, we ordered a Greek salad too. I never encountered a bad Greek salad in Greece.
These slices of fried aubergine may look a bit anaemic but they were perfectly cooked and crisp. Fantastic.
Their zucchini pie was also delicious and more like an eggy, cheesy, chock full of zucchini tart than a pie. It seems very doable at home too…
Our main course of pork souvlaki was quite dry though and I’d recommend sticking to the meze and seafood. This time, with only two of us sharing and only a bottle of water between us, the bill came to…€15 each. This must be the magical island of €15!
The harbour isn’t the only place to find good restaurants in Molyvos. The cobbled market streets winding up and down the hill are shaded by wisteria vines and the buildings are filled with little shops and cafes and restaurants. (Speaking of shops, I highly recommend the shop run by the Women’s Association of Molyvos, located on the main road. They sell lots of local products, lots of which they created or harvested themselves, and there’s lots of pastries made in their large kitchen in the back.)
We were utterly smitten with the tiny Cafe Oysia and loved their frappe and cappuccino freddo (we were told there that the young Greek people now preferred the more trendy cappuccino freddo to the traditional frappe). Their cheese pie was also very good.
They’ve only got a tiny balcony, with two tiny tables, that overlooks the harbour and beaches. We lazed there for ages with our frappes and wondered if we really needed to return to London.
We went back the next day, making us regulars in our eyes. The proprietor even recognised us the second day and saved us a seat on the balcony when others left! I do wish we had had time to try all the sweets in their display.
We stumbled upon Giros Corner when looking for a light dinner and it immediately charmed us. To the left of that photo below was a gorgeous view over the sea. I loved eating outside in Molyvos and the beautiful views available everywhere certainly didn’t hurt.
This was pork giros with tomatoes, onions, tzatziki and chips all wrapped in a beautiful pitta. It was just as good as it looked…and the best part? Only €2.50.
They also serve souvlaki and it was significantly better than that we’d had earlier at Octapus. Still, I think their giros are better.
Even the food at our hotel (the Delfinia Hotel) was delicious. These courgette flowers were stuffed with rice, cheese and dill and were incredibly moreish.
For drinks at night, we went up to the castle where there was a cafe/restaurant. It’s a beautiful place at night (and also not bad to visit during the day though it’s a bit hot) and it was clear enough for us to spot the Milky Way up in the sky.
There’s also a loud but popular beach bar down by the beach and also a little place that had traditional Greek music on Friday evenings (not sure about other nights) along one of the market streets.
And, of course, the wedding was pretty amazing too. The bride arrived by boat! The groom’s niece was incredibly cute! And they had arranged for an old fashioned ice cream vending bicycle to be part of their wedding reception!
To get to the village of Molyvos, you need to first get to Mytilene, the main city on Lesvos. From there, you’ll need to either book a taxi (they are crazy) or rent a car or wait for the infrequent bus to get to Molyvos. I could have spent a week there easily, exploring every nook and cranny of the village and nearby villages too. For more information about the island, do take a look at Matt Barrett’s excellent Lesvos Guide.