Mandolin Aegean Bistro, an escape to Greece
At the hem of the design district and a stone’s throw from Little Haiti is a taverna that pays homage to the simple delicacies of the Greek islands and Turkey. With white washed walls and an iconic blue door as brilliant at the Mediterranean, Mandolin Aegean Bistro invites guests to an experience where time is forgotten.
Mandolin Aegean Bistro is like one of those places you stumble upon during a vacation that becomes the story you recall every time you regale stories of your trip.
Founded by husband and wife Anastasia Koutsioukis and Ahmet Erkaya also natives of Greece, they birthed a dream to bring the taste and hospitality of the Mediterranean to Miami.
I imagined every corner of the restaurant to feel like meeting a different member of their family. The cottage is like getting a warm hug from yiayià (grandmama) with its cozy interior and blue striped pillows thrown on cushioned benches with a tiny kitchen in one corner and an open cupboard with everything from oils to herbs to sauces.
There’s no rush here. This is a space to dwell for a while and fight over the last slice of bread or sneak a taste of the manti dumplings while everyone is getting settled. Cancel whatever plans you have for the rest of the day because you’ll likely be here till long past dinner. Plus, it’s not nice to refuse yiayià!
The main courtyard is the quick beckon of a cheery cousin, ensconced in white washed walls. It has multiple wooden tables dotting the landscape, some framed by blue wicker pendant lights. In the afternoon, white canopies shield tables from the blistering Miami sun.
Hosts bustle around with pitchers of sangria like old friends to a table of girlfriends squealing about the square toed strappy white pumps that the birthday girl was buckling up. Their gift to her. A few tables over a group of aunties embraced a very pregnant young woman. Her eyes misting with every embrace. Probably her first. Phil smiles at me across the table and nods. I don’t even have to ask what he’s thinking. He’s content. Our day trip down from Palm Beach was a good decision.
Tucked to the right you’ll meet an introverted cousin, a private white washed alleyway with 3-4 tables and an outdoor kitchen inviting you into a more intimate meeting. In the cooler months, the garden adjacent to the alleyway provides fresh herbs for some of the mezes on the menu.
In the evening the courtyard transforms into a romantic space where only lanterns and stars illuminate the space.
We make a commitment to return for an evening date but in the meantime we make a toast to living the life we dreamed of 10 years ago and the delicious spread on our table.
The simple cuisine, robust flavors, the warmth of the environment and hosts of Mandolin will inevitably push Greece to the top of your bucket list. Until then, marinate in this experience, trust me, it feel as if you took the trip!