Greece may still be suffering difficult times, but during a recent visit to Athens I noticed a palpable “green shoots” vibe in the atmosphere – not least in Mitropoleos Street, where I chanced upon the freshly opened Ergon House, the latest addition to the thriving Ergon Foods business established a dozen years ago.
Ergon was founded by brothers Thomas and George Douzis, who, inspired by their grocer grandfather, set out on a mission to promote the best of Greek produce in 2007 by selling olive oil and honey, a venture that financed the opening of the brand’s first Greek delicatessen in Thessaloniki four years later. Since then, Ergon has launched 16 stores around the world, in locations ranging from Halkidiki to London and counts 1,200 products in its food range.
Ergon House Athens is situated a stone’s throw from the Acropolis and utilises a 930sq m market-style delicatessen beneath a giant glass atrium centred around a 200-year-old olive tree to create a modern-day “agora” or meeting place. Served by a greengrocer, butcher, fishmonger, baker and (soon) a roastery, the delicatessen sits alongside a bar and restaurant dedicated to serving beautifully presented Greek dishes made exclusively with ingredients sourced from more than 150 small-scale farmers and growers.
But the multistorey property is more than just a place to buy food to eat in or take away – it is a veritable shrine to epicurean pleasures, which also incorporates a 38-room boutique hotel with communal kitchens in which guests are encouraged to conjure up their own delights using ingredients from the deli. And, for those times between meals, residents can relax in homely seating areas, work off any excess in the gym or soak up the Greek sun on the hotel’s roof garden while enjoying unbeatable views of the city.
The bright, fresh contemporary rooms were all created in collaboration with leading local artists and interior designers and range from the compact “small” (at 17-20sq m), costing from around €155 per night, to family suites (49-52sq m) at around €275 per night – although special offers are regularly listed, along with packages such as the current €245 dinner with wine pairing that combines a three-course meal with an extra-large room. Go with an open mind and an empty stomach.