13 September, 2014

Telescope @ Haidari

We visited to a cafe-restaurant called Telescope in Profitis Ilias Hill of Haidari in late August.

Profitis Ilias Hill is not as famous as Lycabettus, but it commands equally impressive view of Athens and Piraeus.

This was not the first time for us to be here. It was around 3 years ago. We came here for a coffee. The name of the cafe-restaurant then was Epopsi.

I did not see it changed much. Only tangible difference was that there are now several telescopes which patrons can use. To my regret, we forgot to try them ourselves, although there was one near us.

Here is the view of Athens in the dusk.

The occasion was to use a discount coupon I bought from Internet. So our experience of food might not be typical.

Here are the starters. Fried rolls and dumplings and salad with chicken.

This is my main course. I think it wanted to be teriyaki salmon, but it was way too sweet. The rice wasn't totally cooked. The veal dish GH ordered was better.

To be honest, I did not appreciate their cooking. On the other hand, the price isn't so high as you would expect from such place. Main dishes are around 10 Euro.

As it is a cafe, the drinks tend to be slightly more expensive than at tavernas or casual restaurants (beer was 5 Euro). However, all in all, if you are not too fussy about food and don't mind paying a tiny bit of extra, I am sure that you can have a quite nice time here.

Of course, if you order only coffee, it is cheaper, but the cafe/bar section is not as comfortable as in the restaurant section.

And, in the restaurant, you can reserve a good table in advance and make sure that you see this while you eat.

Profitis Ilias Hill, Haidari, Athens
Λόφος Προφήτη Ηλία, Χαϊδάρι, Αθήνα
Tel. 210 5812047

06 September, 2014

Thissio View @ Thissio

I do not remember exactly when, but GH and I went to Thissio View for a coffee.

Thissio View (or Θέα Θησείο) is a cafe restaurant on Apostolou Street, just next to Chocolat and Athenaion Politeia.

It wasn't the first time to be there, but it was the first time on the roof top.

It has a really good view to Acropolis, Agora, and Lycabettus Hill.

I do not remember exactly how much we paid for coffee. It was expensive, but not more expensive than at other nice cafes in the area, so it should have been around 4 Euro.

I ordered waffle. I should have told them I wanted vanilla ice cream, though. Again, I do not remember how much it was, but should be 6 or 6.50 Euro.

The best section on the terrace is reserved for restaurant. I checked the menu and it was expensive. But, again, it is not as expensive as, say at Dionysos.

If you order 1 salad, 2 burgers and 2 beers, you can get away with 50 Euro, I guess. They have the menu on their website, so if you are interested, check it out.

The service wasn't professional and the waiters were oblivious and inattentive. But, here you come for the view and not for service or even for gourmet experience, so it is fine, as well. However, if you are coming here for food, it is strongly recommended to reserve a good table with the best view.

Thissio View
Apostolou Pavlou 25 & Agias Marinas, Thisio, Athens
Αποστόλου Παύλου 25 & Αγίας Μαρίνης, Θησείο
Tel. +30-210 3476754

31 August, 2014

Museum of Greek Gastronomy @ Psyrri

So. Museum of Greek Gastronomy. Mmmh.

We visited this place in the beginning of August. I did not bring myself to write about it for long because of mixed feelings toward it.

Let me explain what happened.

The place is very close to the Iroon Square of Psyrri. It is housed in a nice Neo-Classic building and has an exhibition space, small shop selling Greek food products related to exhibition, and restaurant.

The restaurant is open in the evening, and also for lunch on request (so I was told). Closed on Mondays.

I booked the restaurant for a Sunday evening, calling it on Tuesday, if I remember well. The guy on the phone - I think it was the chef - explained me the menu in detail and I was told that there is one menu with fish/seafood and the the other with meat. The menu consists in 4 courses and priced at 20 Euro (which is supposed to be introductory promotional price, so at some point, it might change).

And we - GH, I and a friend from abroad - arrived there Sunday evening, at 8 o'clock.

The girl at the reception did not seem to have the record of our reservation and the table was not ready then. It was not a problem, because we could take a look at the exhibition, which is currently dedicated to the alimentary culture in Greek Monasteries. The theme is going to change in early next year.

We were seated at around 8:30.

And here came a bad surprise. We were told that there was no seafood menu, so virtually no choice in dishes. The reason was that there was no fresh fish in the market and their policy was to offer only fresh products from it (here I'd like to draw your attention to the fact that the Varvakio Market is very close).

Besides, the meat menu was totally different from the one I was explained on the phone.

It is good for them to have a principle, but there are people do not want to eat meat and I do not believe that frozen products are always inferior choice. In my opinion, they should let the guests choose what they prefer, either to pick fresh meat or frozen seafood.

If we were only GH and me, we would have left, telling them that we'd come back on another day, but unfortunately (for her), we brought a friend from abroad and could not change the plan.

Let;s see what we ate.

Here is fava from Santorini (on the house).

Nice, but maybe not the best I have ever eaten. It lacked in sweetness.

And here I add another complaint. About wine. When we requested red wine, the waiter/owner just brought us a red bottle of wine which he recommended without telling us the price. Only when I asked , he explained to us that there are 3 choices, 17 Euro, 20 Euro and another one much more expensive (40 or 50?). Now, the 20 Euro wine was Metohi and 20 Euro is normal price at restaurants, but, the price issue should be clear from the beginning. I don't think he was acting in bad intention. Still, it was not quite correct.

The theme of the course was Crete and the first course was Dakos.

I like Dakos, but not at restaurants, because it tend to fill the stomach quickly.

The second course was fried rabbit.

OK. It was a bit lukewarm.

And the third and main course was pork fillet with sauce which I do not remember. I am not a fan of pork fillet, because it tend to be dry and this one was not an exception. The potatoes were really nice, though.

The dessert was a mixture of mizithra and yogurt, served with jam and biscuit crumbs. When the waiter/owner served us this, he said that this was probably the best of the day's meal. "You should not say that", I thought.

In addition, this was different from the dessert which was announced at the beginning (it should have been ice cream).

Each dish was fine, but personally I did not like the combination due to lack of vegetable. I do not digest meat very well, if I do not eat it with vegetables.

The total bill came to about 80 Euros for 3.

Although the ambiance was nice and the food also was OK, I left with the place mixed feelings. Several things - mainly service issues - were definitely wrong. Maybe it gets better in time, hopefully.

Museum of Greek Gastronomy (Μουσείο Ελληνικής Γαστρονομίας)
Agiou Dimitriou 13, Psyrri, Athens
Αγίου Δημητρίου 13, 10554 Ψυρρή, Αθήνα
Tel. 210 3211311, 694 8749161
(At the moment of writing, the website is only in Greek, but the people here do speak English).

20 August, 2014

Where We Ate in Samos (Summer 2014 - Part 2)

For the later part of our stay in Samos, we moved from Kampos Marathokampou to Kokkari and we had lunch on our way at Mytilinioi.

The village has a nice central square with a large platanos tree. Although there was some tavernas, virtually one one had any guest: To Magazaki pou Legame (which I would translate into "the small shop that we were speaking about").

It is a taverna as well as souvlaki place, so some young ones were eating only souvlaki wraps. We had a normal sit-down meal.

The food was OK, but generally salty. Probably the strongest selling point of this taverna is generous portion size and low price.

Here is a rabbit stifado (so we were told but, did not look like a normal stifado) served with risone pasta; enough to feed 2 of us.

We did not paid even 25 Euro and we were stuffed to death.

To Magazaki pou Legame- Το Μαγαζάκι που Λέγαμε
Central Square, Mytilinioi, Samos
Πλατεία Μυτιληνιών, Μυτιληνιοί, 83 101, Σάμος
(+30) 2273051264


As soon as we arrived at Kokkari and unloaded our luggage at a pension, we headed for Vathy to buy some gift for one of GH's Samiot cousin who just had a baby.

The merchants of Vathy was hosting a "White Night" (shops to remain far into the night) and there were several parallel events going on.

We saw local men cooking something called "Giorti". It is a sort of heavy porridge made of meat and barley.

I did not taste it, but smelled terrific.

But I picked up a free tiganita, which is fried bread. This one had some grated cheese on top.

The next day our lunch was at an uncle's house, but in the evening we went for a quick souvlaki in Kokkari, together with the uncle's family.

This is a place called 'Kokkari', and also known as 'Manolis' to the locals. Restaurants in Kokkari tend to be expensive because of foreign tourist trade, but this one seemed to be popular also with the locals.

It is located in the central (though small) square of Kokkari.

One day we had a breakfast in a cafe in Kokkari called Aelio. It is one of the shops on the seafront and serves homemade cakes and drinks.

Here is the breakfast set of 7 Euro, including one coffee. As a freddo cappuccino only cost 3.50 Euro, it is a good offer.

There was a plenty of bread, 3 jams (at least one was homemade for sure), cornflakes and milk, and a chocolate dessert. The quantity of bread was enough for two.

Regardless of so much interest they poured in the jams, the spread wasn't butter, but vegetable substitute. I do not understand the spirit.

And the chocolate dessert was too heavy in the morning; it would have been nicer if it were simple yogurt.

Kokkari, Samos
Κοκκάρι, Σάμος
Tel. (+30) 2273 092898

And we had a lunch in a taverna called Kallisti in Manolates.

Manolates is a charming village in the mountain and many people come here just for a meal.

There are 6 or 7 tavernas and they are all good, we heard. But another Samiot cousin of GH chose this one.

The starters and pies were indeed quite good, although the main dishes looked only averagely good.

If you are in the norther part of Samos and have a car, a visit or two to tavernas in Manolates and Vourliotes is indeed a must.

Kallisti - Κάλλιστη
Manolates, 83200, Samos
Μανολάτες, 83200, Σάμος
Tel. (+30) 22730 94661

There are many cafe-bars in Kokkari and one night we went out for a drink.

Here is Mojito and a glass of wine. Both of the glasses was really large.

The day of return, we had several hours to kill in the airport, because we had to return our car some hours earlier than the departure. When we rent it, the owner of the rent-a-car shop told us that we could keep it until the departure, but she changed her mind and called us to return the car even one day before the departure obviously because she got another client and did not have another car to rent.

The airport of Samos is very small and there is only one canteen as drinking/eating facility. And the price is really high, as high as in large airports of European capitals!

So I decided to go out to find something to eat. I walked about 2 kilometers under the sun to Chora and bought a peinirli from a pizzeria/taverna called Sinadisi.

It was 6 Euro (eat-in was 6.50 Euro) and was quite filling. The dough was fresh and plenty of cheese. I liked it.

The shop itself looks a bit shabby, so I won't recommend particularly anyone to come to eat here, but, if you like its style, why not?

It is on the right side of the main street coming from Pithagorio or Ireo to Chora.

Sinadisi - Συνάντηση
Chora, 83100 Samos
Χώρα, 83100, Σάμος
Tel. (+30) 22730 91330


One thing I thought interesting about the restaurants in Samos is that almost all the names are spelled in English (Latin) characters and not in Greek. In other places I know, the names are usually spelled both with Greek characters and Latin characters. Not so for many restaurants in Samos.

I guess this shows how much the restaurant business here is depending on foreign trade.

Even so, we managed to find normal - authentic - Greek food served in the Greek way. I guess there are lots of tourist traps, but still, a bit of research can leads you to right places.

15 August, 2014

Salamina Excursion

About 2 weeks ago we went to Salamina island with our car.

The purpose wasn't to go to beach, but to take a friend of mine from Japan to a monastery called Faneromeni.

With 3 people in the car, we paid 7 Euro for a ferry ride. It takes about 15 minutes to cross the sea. The boat from Perama arrives at a town called Paloukia.

The distance from Paloukia to Salamina is about 2 km and they are almost continuous.

It was impressive how rough the people drive in Salamina. As if there is no traffic law.

After some search, we found Faneromeni Monastery.

It is a still very active religious centre and many Christians visit here. Now it looks post-Byzantine, but its history should date back earlier. My friend came to visit to see the wall painted icons in the main church.

Here is the opening hours.

But you should mind that the main church with beautiful wall painted icons is open only during liturgies. We managed to enter, because GH explained to the keepers that my friend came all the way from Japan and she did not know that, but if you are casual Greek visitor, you might be told to return (as we were told by a nun at first).

This is a sea in front of the monastery. There was no one swimming here.

The friend, unfortunately, wasn't feeling well and we did not swim. So we went to Salamina town for lunch.

We stopped at an ouzeri called Porto Leone. The food was just averagely good, but it was cheap and the view was nice.

We should go back to find a nice beach (although studies say that the sea around Salamina is not clean enough for swimming as many beaches around Attica).

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