Rhodes is full of excellent restaurants, which I have to be honest, I was a little surprised about. I’d done my research, had a long list of places to try and most nights was not only left satisfied but genuinely impressed by the secret culinary successes of Rhodes. Our final night was spent at Marco Polo Cafe, and what a way to finish the holiday off.
To reach Marco Polo Mansion, first you must navigate a maze of medieval cobbled lanes through Rhodes Old Town to find an inconspicuous wooden door that could easily be the entrance to somebody’s house. Walk through a couple of sparse rooms and you’ll reach steps that climb up to the outdoor courtyard, where uneven walls painted powder blue and mustard yellow surround marble topped tables and white director chairs overlooked by lime trees. In short, Marco Polo is beautiful – everything you could want from a holiday dining experience. And we haven’t even got to the food yet.
As with all the best places, the menu reads so well it makes it tantalisingly difficult to choose what to order. Feta wrapped in filo, drizzled in plenty of honey and sesame seeds (€6.50) sounded too good to resist and turned out to be one of my favourite dishes of the trip; the creaminess of the warm feta teamed with the crispiness of the pastry working well with the sweetness from the honey. Pureed fava beans with caramelised onions and balsamic (€6.50) completed a great start to the meal with some warm bread.
Mains were the hardest to choose from, but the special of crispy Iberia pork with apple marmalade and potato puree (€18) was a brilliant choice, again the combination of crispy and creamy textures between the pork and potato proving a winner. Lamb souvlaki (€14.90) served as a solid Greek choice: tender skewered lamb marinated in mustard and crusted with pistachios, served pink with couscous and potato wedges. The lamb was – quite rightly – the star of this dish, with the couscous complimenting well without being too showy as to steal the shine from the quality of the souvlaki. I found the potato wedges perhaps misjudged, not crispy enough for my tastes but again, a good simple vehicle for the lamb. We shared both dishes and washed it all down with the crisp Greek house white wine (€14 per litre) under the stars.
Whilst full from the first two courses, I was happy to push myself over the edge to uncomfortably full for the dessert menu presented to us. The chocolate semifreddo called to me like lovers do, but the curve ball of a fig, pear and walnut crumble on the specials board made choosing near on impossible. My dinner companion opted for the ice cream with caramel and almonds, and I reluctantly made a choice, settling on the semifreddo. And THEN something happened that topped off this incredible dining experience to make it the pinnacle of our holiday: the waiter delivered our desserts to the table along with the crumble I had been debating over ‘on the house’. I know! I couldn’t have been more made up, and let me tell you: the crumble was the best of them all. So much so I am going to try to make it myself. Pity I don’t have the warm Aegean nights and the lime tree lined courtyard to serve it in, eh? Please, if you ever find yourself in Rhodes, go for a meal at Marco Polo. You will not regret it.
42 Ag. Fanouriou St, Old Town, 85100, Rhodes, Greece
+30 22410 25562
Starters: €5.50 – €13
Mains: €14.80 – €21