1600 Raki Ba Raki (in Greek “1600 Ρακί Μπα Ράκι”) is a stylish upscale meze restaurant (“mezedopolio“) in the heart of old Rethymno, where one can enjoy authentic Cretan cuisine with creative touches and locally source ingredients. As its name reveals, it is housed in a building dating back to the 17th century. It is one of our standard choices for enjoying modern Cretan cuisine while dining in style. There is a wide selection of all kinds of Cretan starters and nibbles and there are both meat and seafood based mains. Note that there is always good range of daily specials. Portions are not huge, but the dishes are greatly cooked, balanced and exemplify modern Cretan cuisine. Ambience is very pleasant, combining modern with traditional elements which greatly enhances dining experience.
The restaurant stylishly displays using indoor windows the dips, pickled products, salted fish, cheese and cured meat that are served.
1600 Raki Ba Raki is located on a popular street of the old town of Rethymno in the heart of the restaurant area of the city. It is easily accessible on foot from anywhere in the city, therefore receiving a location score of 3 out of 3 (🗺️🗺️). As we are talking about the old town of Rethymno with its narrow streets and alleys, if you come by car do not expect to park right on the spot, although parking areas are not far. Therefore, the parking score is 1 out of 3 (🅿️).
Ambience, comfort, decor
The eatery has a large and comfortable indoor seating area that is attentively decorated. One wall displays older grocery products evoking an old style Cretan grocery store while on the other side there are indoor windows displaying the dips, pickled products, salted fish, cheese and cured meat that are served. The ambience/comfort score is therefore 3 out of 3 (💺💺💺). In summer time the restaurant serves outdoor tables that are on the street, which is kind of cozy (we are talking about the famous narrow streets of old Rethymno), but nothing spectacular, justifying and outdoor score of 2 out of 3 (⛱️⛱️). There is a friendly attitude to children, although there is no play area (not enough space in this part of town), justifying a 2 out of 3 kids score (👦👦).
Raki Ba Raki is stylishly decorated. One big wall displays older grocery products evoking an old style Cretan grocery store.
Food, quality, quantity
In this eatery you can enjoy modern and creative Cretan food that is also truly authentic and based on locally sourced top quality ingredients. There is a wide selection of all kinds of Cretan starters and nibbles and there are both meat and seafood based mains. Note that there is always good range of daily specials. The vegetarian crowd will also be satisfied as there are seafood and vegan dishes on offer, justifying a 3 out of 3 vegetarian score(🌱🌱🌱). Food portions are medium sized for the Cretan standards and food is of great quality, justifying a quantity score of 2 out of 3 (🥣🥣) and a quality score of 3 out of 3 (✅✅✅). The house wine is exceptional, justifying a 3 out of 3 housewine score (🍷🍷🍷).
Some typical starters: bread with homemade tomato dip (top left), legume salad with sun-dried tomatoes (top right), fried potato skins topped with “tirokauteri”, a spicy cheese sauce (bottom right), boiled stamnagathi bitter greens (bottom middle) and prawn frittata topped with ksinomizithra cheese (bottom left)
The meal starts with fresh bread of high quality and a tomato dip with basil and garlic. The dip is good, although its taste is a kind of neutral and evokes napolitana pasta sauce. A more intensely flavored dip would offer a better taste kick for the beginning of the meal. As starters we tried the legume salad (“salata osprion“) containing a mix of cooked beans, sun-dried tomatoes and fresh mint. It is a very balanced taste which is enhanced by the fresh mint whose pungence greatly adds up to the starchiness of the beans. The boiled stamnagathi bitter greens in olive oil and lemon was great. One of the starter highlights are the fried potato skins topped with spicy feta sauce (“tirokauteri“), which is not to be missed. We also tried the prawn frittata with ksinomizithra cheese (Cretan sour ricotta) and thyme which was nice but a more neutral flavor.
As main dishes from the meat-based selection, we tried lamb in yoghurt and grilled veal liver in fennel and a thick olive oil and lemon sauce (“ladolemono“). The lamb was cooked to perfection to be really succulent and was served in a clay pot. The yoghurt sauce was smooth and was perfectly bringing out the taste of the lamb. The grilled veal liver was equally satisfactory, as the meat was really tender. The fennel, although having naturally an intense flavor, was complimenting and not dominating the taste of the liver; same applies to the tick ladolemono sauce.
Our choice of meat dishes: Cretan lamb in yoghurt cooked to perfection (left) and grilled veal liver with fennel in thick olive oil and lemon sauce (right)
Coming to the seafood dishes, we tried the grilled octopus and mashed split peas (“fava“). The octopus was grilled very well to be juicy but not too chewy. The natural sweetness of the octopus was greatly counterbalanced by the tanginess of the peas, resulting in a good combination. The fresh grilled squid was topped with a well-matching parsley sauce that enhanced the taste of the main ingredient and wad accompanied with legume salad (which has been described before). The squid dish was small in size and the squid itself was a little too hard. Finally we tried a seafood classic, grilled sardines, which was satisfactory. Sardines were served with little olive oil and were accompanied with a nice small vegetable salad.
Our seafood selection: grilled octopus with mashed split peas “fava pantremeni” (left), grilled squid topped with parsley sauce (top right) and grilled sardines (bottom right)
Service is fast, attentive and discrete and deserves a 3 out of 3 service score (💁💁💁).
Treats at no extra charge
The offered dessert is Greek semolina halva (a traditional sweet made of semolina, sugar and olive oil) topped with melted chocolate which is good, although the halva itself is a bit bland and chocolate dominates the taste. The usual raki that accompanies the dessert is of great quality.
Greek semolina halva, a traditional sweet made of semolina, sugar and olive oil, topped with melted chocolate
Reservation is advisable especially at peak times, such as weekends and summer time.
Price and overall score
The price for a full meal at 1600 Raki Ba Raki lies between between € 20,00 and € 25,00 per person (price level: €€(€)) including drinks (housewine option), which brings it on the expensive side of meze restaurants in Rethymno. However, given the food quality and range, the ambience, style and location the price is justified. The overall score, that mainly accounts for value for money, is 2 out of 3 (⭐⭐).
Review last edited: 14/05/2019
© Review and photos by Agisilaos Papadogiannis