We first went to San Stefanos on the North West side of Corfu in about 1999 and it was time for a return visit with my Mum and Sister.
Last time we stayed on the edge of town at the family run Efi Appartments, sadly no more, and some of the most memorable times from that trip were sitting around the pool and when the family would all get together and cook up a big barbeque for the guests. Down the road was the Paradise Restaurant which would have a Greek Night once a week with plate smashing and Greek dancing as late as people would stay up. It was there that we met Stefanos who ran the place with his brother Dmitri and Glenn, an English guy from Sheffield who was working there as a waiter.
Roll forward 12 years and some things have changed but for the most part the place still has it’s charm. Yes there are a few more tavernas and the special Greek nights have been usurped by some more commercial ventures that hold dancing every night and leech the business from the older places. Paradise is still there, but on the end of a road away from the action and sadly not as busy as it should be. Stefanos is still serving and as ebullient and charming as ever in as genuine a manner as you can imagine. Dmitri now works in the shop next door since their parents have retired and Glenn has his own bar near the beach. Considering it previously took all three of them to wait it shows how business has dropped off that Stefanos is able to manage by himself these days.
This doesn’t affect the food though, with the Beef Stifado being absolutely mouthwatering with tender slow cooked pieces of beef literally melting in the mouth and the shallots sweet and providing the perfect accompiniament. Greek salad is just great as well, I mean come on, feta cheese is too good, and with some juicy olives and slices of beefy tomato you can’t go wrong.
Of course, we would have come back even if the food wasn’t great because he is just such a nice guy and he now has a young family with his son Spiros really enjoying to learn Greek dancing even though he is a little bit too young! Something like 60% of the male population of Corfu is called Spiros, named after St Spiridon, the patron saint of the island. We visitied his church in Corfu town and somehow got involved in an incence heavy Greek Orthodox service which was strangely intoxicating.
He also had us up and dancing after my sister asked him to show us and was then surprised when he got her to join in!
Dessert at Paradise was limited in its options but served with a smile and a bit of showmanship of course, I had to seriously face my childhood fear of sparklers to get my ice cream fix…!
On what was unfortunately our last full day we took a trip up to the Corfu Beer microbrewery which is just over the hill near the village of Arillas. They brew four beers, one is a pilsner and tasted like a decent European beer, certainly better than the Mythos I’d been drinking previously around town but at the same time a little too strong tasting perhaps to drink all afternoon. Mind you, we did try and unfiltered version with a fuller flavour.
After being shown around the brewery with it’s very professional setup and quite surprisingly large selection of stainless steel coppers we got to try a bit of their Real Ale which was a ruby red and very good with caramel and nutty flavours and a malty aftertaste. The darker Bitter was probably my favourite though with a smoky taste and nice bite to it. They stressed the lack of chemicals in their brewing process which contains totally natural ingredients and is carried out by local staff and provides opportunities in the area. Can’t really argue with that and so I’d definitely recommend trying the beer if you are on the Island or elsewhere in Greece where it is available.