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April 08, 2006

Dinner at Tamam

TamamoutsideOne of the disadvantages of where we are staying at the moment is that we only have a small fridge, and an even tinier freezer, and we don't want to be buying a lot of stuff that we will only have to carry down the road to Germaniko Pouli when we move on Monday. That means every time I go to the supermarket I have only been buying enough for two or three days, and we have a rigid menu in place.

Which can be a real pain if, like last night, you suddenly find that you just don't fancy your planned meal - chicken and mushroom in a cheese sauce with rice - and in fact you just don't fancy cooking at all.

With all that in mind, as we went for an afternoon stroll around 5-ish, we walked by the restaurant called Tamam just a few metres from pension Orio. "We really should visit that before we move out of town" said Claire. That set the cogs whirring in my mind, and I hatched a cunning plan. If I cooked the chicken we could have that cold with our lunchtime salad over the next couple of days, and then instead of our planned dish, we could go to Tamam for dinner. Having spent nearly €1,000 on household goods - again - I wasn't entirely sure we could afford it mind you.

Tamam is in one of the old Venetian buildings on Zambeliou, and it always seems busy. It has some tables out in the narrow street which are usually a right pain to walk by. It has very high windows, so you can't see into it, but on a couple of occasions we'd wandered by and seen through the open door that it looked very nice. It was actually smaller inside than we expected, with room for maybe 50 or 60 diners. We arrived around 8-ish and it was very busy, in fact we got the last available table, so we made a mental note that if we wanted to take anybody there we would book in advance. By 8:45 however there were quite a few spaces, but I guess that might be different in high season.

The food was sensational. It is Cretan, but with more of a nod to Middle Eastern flavours than Greek ones. Claire had stuffed vine leaves to start, and I had cheese and spinach pie. The portions were very generous - at bakeries and street corners you might pick up one of these pies as a snack, but Tamam served me three as my starter. For our main courses we both had lamb dishes. Claire had Lamb chops, and I had a dish of baby lamb with a yoghurt dressing and pita bread. It was heavenly - really melt-in-the-mouth stuff. We were both absolutely stuffed, but got complimentary cake and shots of raki for dessert. We really enjoyed the food, and it was definitely somewhere we would go back to and take people to.

TamaminsideOne note about the atmosphere, it is amazing what a difference music can make to the ambience of a place. For the majority of our meal they were playing this really haunting and poignant Middle Eastern style jazz. It was very melancholy, and really gave the place an amazing atmosphere with its old painted walls, exposed Venetian brickwork and small high windows. However just at the end they swapped CDs and started playing a compilation of modern standards like Sting's "Fields of Gold", which gave the place an entirely different atmosphere. We much preferred the exotic mystery and misery of the first CD.

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I've read your description of the time you spent in TAMAM. Actually I am the son of one of the owners of this place, but I do not work there, so there is no issue of conflict of interest....However, I translated the comments to my mother (one of the owners) and she had a face full of happiness that no money can buy!!
Anyway, I just wanted to say how happy comments like yours make us in the familly! We'll do our best to stick to our values and not to the easy money fever that is happening at the moment in many touristic places in Greece. We hope others will follow too.
Enjoy your stay in Chania

Hi Kostantis, thank you for your comments. This meal I described was when we had only been in Chania two weeks. We have been here over a year now, and have had several wonderful meals in Tamam - it is one of the places we always take our friends when they come to stay because it is such a nice place and such good food.

Thank you Martin for your good words. However, we would really appreciate some proposals or negative impressions you had in order to get ideas how to improve ourselves. We also know that we have loads of faults and with the busy period in the summer these faults are increasing. This to some extend is unavoidable, but we will do our best in the future.

I ate at Tamam just a few days ago during our short one week stay in Chania and have to agree that the food and service was as close to faultless as is possible. The lamb chops were sensational as were the aubergine and avocado starters. Even more remarkable was the fact that the meal at Tamam was easily one of the best we had in Crete but also one of the least expensive. It was recommended to us by Nikkos at Hotal Ammos but I've since noticed that it's listed in several guide-books.

Hi Konstantis,
I visited Tamam several times during a month stay in Chania in December and was impressed not only with the wonderful food, but the variety of vegetarian dishes available. I fell in love with the spinach croquettes, and dream of them every day - if possible could your mother or yourself email me the recipe, since those on google vary in their ingredients. There was obviously, spinach, feta cheese and mint, but I don't know the other ingredients or plan or whether to use breadcrumbs or batter? Tamam has been one of my favourite restaurants visited, such a lovely ambience, incredible music taste, and creativity, and yet again wonderful made food. It was difficult to leave and wish Tamam could be transported to my town in the UK so I could eat there every week :).

One idea I have is that you have a nice space for pictures, and from time to time it would be nice if you changed that. Perhaps some old black & white historical photos of a Hamam being used. Other fitting photos in b/w maybe of the ancestral family. Or some art prints, I noticed some by Yannis Moralis in the Athens art gallery, or invite artists to put their show, if their work is fitting with the ambience. The pictures could be rotated so always in use, but I think it will look interesting and add to the exisiting creative atmosphere.

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