Cuckoo” (κουκουβάγια), meaning “owl” in Greek, is featured in the restaurant’s logo, which features the eyes and beak of an owl. In the historic and vibrant Pangrati neighborhood of Athens, the logo features prominently on the sign outside this Michelin Guide restaurant, with the words ‘Wise Cuisine’ below. The owl is the sacred bird of the goddess Athena and the symbol of the city of Athens. It is a symbol of wisdom and knowledge in Greek culture that is reflected in the restaurant’s culinary excellence and thoughtful, creative cooking.

On arrival we are greeted in a contemporary reception area located in front of a floor-to-ceiling wine fridge. This impressive display is so tall that a ladder is required to reach the topmost bottle.

The opening page on Cookovaya’s menu is titled ‘Apheresis’ which is central to the restaurant’s culinary philosophy, which emphasizes traditional techniques that bring out and highlight natural qualities and flavors. Here is a resolution to showcase the best of Greece’s ingredients from both land and sea, using every part of those ingredients, “nose to tail” and “root to stem”.


We were invited to choose from the a la carte menu or choose the chef’s recommendations. We decided on the latter, with the only caveat that one of us was a pescatarian. This was a good move as we thoroughly enjoyed a variety of dishes that we would not have picked up otherwise.

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We started with the delicious dorado royal carpaccio with wild fennel pollen, yuzu kosho and lemon zest. The thin slices of this fish, also known as gilt-head bream, had a delicate sweetness and a savory, almost slightly nutty flavor.

And then the dishes kept flowing, with local red shrimp, scallops, avocado, chilli, lime and coriander being particularly palate-pleasing.

Of course, no Greek meal is complete without a Greek salad and this one did not disappoint, not least because the accompanying feta – sourced from the Arcadia region in the central Peloponnese – was almost unaged, low in salt and homogenous. . A much softer and silkier texture than regular feta.

Anyone familiar with Greek cuisine will also be familiar with spanakopita (σπανακόπιτα) – a savory take on a couscous spinach pie complete with wild greens, chard, feta and herbs.

For me, the stand-out dish was the scallops sitting on a smoked eggplant and jalapeño puree – it was so juicy and still makes my mouth water when I think about it!

We also enjoyed octopus on toasted bread with fava and tomatoes…

…and tarma made with white fish roe, olive oil and lemon juice served with crispy phyllo bread that is made without yeast.

A side dish of spring beans steamed with crushed heirloom tomatoes, extra virgin olive oil, aged vinegar and fresh garlic, plus a plate of grilled Ambrassian prawns with olive oil, lemon and oregano blossom (from the Ambrassian Gulf on the northwest coast of Greece. and known for their quality). There were more examples of how simple cooking techniques can achieve extraordinary results.

Our main course – traditionally cooked catch of the day (bianco, bordetto, soup, cilantro with basil, bauro-bauro) was presented to us before being de-boned and served to our table.

In Greek cuisine, “bouro-bouro” is a traditional soup made with various vegetables and sometimes pasta or rice. It is a hearty and comforting dish, usually enjoyed as a starter or light meal. On this occasion, the fish (grouper) was surprisingly ‘meaty’, tasty and filling.

By this time, we were indeed more than satisfied, but almost insisted that we try the Bougatsa – a crunchy phyllo, vanilla cream and cinnamon ice cream, displayed in all its glory, before being crushed in front of us.

The pear tart tatin with butterscotch and vanilla ice cream was also thoroughly enjoyed.


Chef-owner Pericles Koskinas, who hails from Corfu, is one of Greece’s most well-travelled chefs, having worked in the UK, the Canaries, Venezuela, the USA, Canada and, of course, Greece. He believes in simplicity in cooking, using seasonal and local produce. He opened Koukouvaya in late 2014 with five other distinguished Greek chefs – for the past three years, it has been under his sole command. The culinary traditions of Greece remain at the core of its menu, as do Greek values, regional produce and Greek hospitality.


At the time of our visit, this air-conditioned restaurant had a lively buzz about it. The tables are well spaced and the ceiling is high, so it wasn’t too noisy even though most of the tables were occupied, and there was a bit of spillage for outdoor dining. The service is very friendly and attentive without being pushy, and the atmosphere is very relaxed. As we sat at the front of the restaurant, I went around the corner to visit the toilets until I noticed that there was also a completely open plan kitchen where you could witness all the culinary magic.


Appetizers range from €10 to €25. Mains start at €30 (for lamb chops, tzatziki, french fries and wild oregano). There are also two “Wise Tasting Menus”, priced at €75 or €85 per person. Desserts are usually around €10.

final judgment

Now celebrating its tenth year, Koukouvaya continues with its commitment to culinary simplicity and wisdom (hence the owl again), celebrating the essence of Greek cuisine through meticulous preparation and respect for tradition. Diners may also notice that the plates are also subtly branded with the words “270 degrees” and a line that is three-quarters of the way around a circle, indicating the total number of degrees the owl can turn its head. It’s details like these that demonstrate the restaurant’s attention to detail and underscore its commitment to incorporating wisdom into every aspect of the dining experience.

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Cuckoo.

Paul Johnson

Paul Johnson is the editor of the Luxury Travel Blog and has worked in the travel industry for over 30 years. He is the winner of the Innovation in Travel ‘Best Travel Influencer’ award from WIRED Magazine. The blog has also been voted “one of the world’s best travel blogs” and “best luxury” by The Daily Telegraph, among other awards.

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