21 July, 2014

Momo @ Kallithea

I am officially on summer vacation and don't have to go to work for 2 weeks. How nice. I feel thankful to the company I work for, even though its their legal obligation to give employees days-off.

By the way, yesterday, the 20th July Sunday, was the first Sunday from the start of the summer sales season. On such Sundays, the shops are allowed to open for trade (and you might also know that there is a controversial pilote plan that might allows the shops to open as many Sundays as they want). GH and I went to Kallithea for window shopping.

Not all the shops were open, though. Probably some chose to be remain closed because many Athenians were out for beaches.

After window & non window shopping, we went to a cafeteria near Kyprou Square called Momo. I had found the place on Foursquare; it is highly rated and the food in the photos looked good.

As all the other cafeterias in Kyprou Square, Momo has tables there (in the square I mean), but it also has a yard just behind. It is like a small garden or park. It was surprisingly peaceful in the heart of busy Kallithea. GH complained about a strange smell, but I am pretty sure it was from plant food. The interior space is also attractive, but the Greeks tend to want to be seated outside.

Momo is a cafeteria which offers various handmade food like warm sandwiches, salads, hot dogs, burgers, and cakes. And a good variety of them. Here is a sample of sandwich section.

GH ordered Pasta salad (4.80 Euro). It was cold ring shaped pasta (like very small ditali) mixed with chopped vegetables and bacon and combined with mayonnaise. To be honest, I did not like it. It was too oily for me and the pasta was slightly stale, but GH seemed to like it enough.

I ordered grilled sandwich with roast beef and mushroom (4.80 Euro).

This was much better. When I read roast beef, I expected cold cuts, and then it turned out to be braised veal. It was a disappointment, but not a bad filling as it was. The bread was country style sour bread. Although I would have preferred non-sour bread, it was better than anemic white bread. The portion was huge. We could well have shared one plate between us.

The food might have not been a top notch, but it was a big step forward from usual cafeteria food. And I welcome the fact that Athens in crisis has more eating option than, say, 5 years ago.

We will be back to try other dishes.

Sapfous 96, Kallithea, Athens
Σαπφούς 96, Καλλιθέα, Αθήνα
210 9562300

06 July, 2014

The Albion & Gaspar @ Neo Psychiko

Last Sunday, I was a bit sick because of the unseasonable cold that I had caught while I was sleeping. Not wanting to move much, we took a car and went to Neo Psychiko to try a place popular on Foursquare: The Albion.

It is a restaurant, but serves also coffee and on Sundays also brunch (from 11 to 16 o'clock).

This is how it looks like from outside.

It has an indoor space, but it looks that it works exclusively in the yard during the summer. The indoor space was totally empty; there were not even tables and chairs.

The yard is very pleasant and peaceful. There were lots of people with babies. If you come in a group on Sundays, I guess it is better to book a table.

We saw both the brunch menu (below) and the regular menu. The regular menu is mainly Italian (pasta, pizza, main course etc.) and very expensive. Any pasta or pizza costs 10 Euro and up. One beer costs 6 or 7 Euro. On the other hand, the brunch menu is reasonable. A sandwich costs 6 to 8 Euro, pancakes from 5 to 6 Euro. More or less the same price at any high-end cafe in Athens.

I ordered one chicken burrito. The tortilla was toasted and nicely crispy.

GH ordered beef and cheese sandwich. It was also good, but GH regretted his choice because it had too much horse radish, which he does not like. It was, however, his fault, as he had read on the menu that it contained with horse radish. I guess you can ask the waiter to skip it, if you do not like it.

The difference from the normal cafes was that we were charged for bottled water, 3 Euro. I am not sure if one bottle cost 3 Euro, or they just charge 1.50 Euro flat per person. So we paid 20 Euro including tip. We thought we paid a fair price, because the environment was very pleasant and the service was good, too.

The Albion
Omirou 6, Neo Psychiko, Athens
Tel. 210 674 0710

We could have taken coffee at the Albion, but once we were in Neo Psychiko, we decided to explore another venue, too: Gaspar.

It is less than 10 minutes walk from The Albion. When I saw the building, I remembered to have been in the area before.

The environment is totally different from The Albion. It is more like Gazi College. It serves both food and drink.

As we have already eaten, we ordered only drink. We could have ordered desserts, but the price was so high that I was not sure if it was worth it.

I tried to order a homemade soft drink with stevia, but the waitress told me that there wasn't. She recommended to order flavoured cold tea instead because it was more or less the same thing. I did not believe her and ordered an espresso. GH ordered a freddo cappuccino, cost 4.50 Euro.

There was really nothing special about this place, at least as a cafe. Maybe it is different in the night, as a club. It was a total disappointment.

Leoforos Dimitriou Vasiliou & Lykourgou, Neo Psychiko
Tel. 210 677 5011

01 July, 2014

Where We Ate in Syros Island in June 2014

For the 3 day weekend of June (Sat+Sun+Holy Spirit Monday), we went to Syros island for the first time. As always, I make a quick note of the places where we ate. Hope that it helps those who visiting the island this summer.

A ferry ticket from Piraeus to Syros cost 29.50 Euro p.p. (deck) and it takes 4 hours to get there. The boat departs in the morning and returns in the evening, so you can use your time quite effectively.

We arrived at the island at 12, so after checking in at a pension, we looked for somewhere we could have a quick & light lunch. We took a table in a bar-cafeteria which offers also some snacks. The place was called Belle Epoque.

This was the dish of the day, the local sausage cooked with honey. It cost 7 Euro and the portion was not much more than a meze. Then I thought it was expensive and later I learnt that restaurants in Syros are generally expensive. What can we do?

The local sausage of Syros is characterized by the presence of fennel seeds. And later we found out that cooking meat with honey is usual here.

This is the view from our table. It was pleasant.

This cafeteria/bar has a wide variety of beer, so if you want a drink or two in the evening, it should be nice.

Plateia Annis Koutsodonti, Ermoupoli, 84100 Syros
Πλατεία Άννης Κουτσοδόντη, Ερμούπολη, 84100 Σύρος
Tel. 22810 82388

In the evening, we went to Ano Syros, which is an old quarter of the capital. The modern Ermoupoli is a product of 19th century immigration (not of foreigners, but of Greeks from other parts of Greece and Turkey), and before that, the main body of the inhabitants live uphill to avoid pirates, as usual in Cyclades.

I didn't find the buildings in Ano Syros so attractive, but it does offer a nice view of Ermoupoli. And for this reason, there are several restaurants and cafe-bars there.

We decided to eat at taverna Lilis, because an acquaintance of mine ate here recently and recommended it. By the way, this is a very famous taverna and you will find it in many guidebooks.

The items in the menu did not look interesting, except for some local stuff, like maintanosalata, malathopita, or San Michalis cheese. The food was good, but only averagely good. Nothing special. We spent 33.40 Euro, which was all right for a dinner, but we did not feel to have eaten well. If you do not feel like paying an extra for the view, I would not recommend it to you.

Additionally, the plating was least attractive.

I felt like eating in a taverna in Plaka.

It does have a view, but not from all the tables. You need to book a table at the edge of the balcony in advance.

Taverna Lilis - Λιλής
Ano Syros, 84100, Syros
Άνω Σύρος, 84100
Tel. 2281088087

Next day lunch time, we stopped at a bar- restaurant called Mammo which was scoring high on Foursquare. Not to eat too much and not to be able to move later, we had a plate of bruschetta to share.

These were toasted slices of bread and on top were pepper sauce (the red thing that look like ketchup), Domokos goat cheese, caramerized onion, and louza (local ham). As you can understand from the description, this is not just a cafeteria, but a gourmet restaurant.

Not the best open sandwich I have ever eaten, but was a good effort. The portion was generous, too. For 6 Euro, it was quite all right. We would have returned to eat other things, if we had had more days in Syros.

Akti Petrou Ralli 38A, 84100 Ermoupoli Syros
Aκτή Πέτρου Ράλλη 38Α, 84100 Ερμούπολη, Σύρος
Τel. 2281076416

The same day, we went to Kini beach. There are two famous tavernas here; one is called Allou Giallou and the other called Dio Tzitzikia kai Almyrikia, but we did not stay there to eat.

Instead, we had a dinner at Archontariki tis Maritsas in Ermoupoli.

It is located in a portion of town where most of tavernas are concentrated. As the dinner of the previous night was a failure, I studies carefully the things people were eating in tavernas around and decided on this one, because the food looked a bit more interesting than other traditional places. There was also famous Kuzina nearby, but I decided to stay away, because the food looked too foreign-tourist oriented.

I did not regret my choice. Probably it is not the best taverna in town, but the food was palatable and enjoyable enough. We had maidanosalata (local dip made from parsley, bread/potato, olive oil and garlic), grilled local sausage, marathopita (below) and local goat meat in oven. We paid 32.20 Euro together with a beer, but the portion size was large and if you come in a larger group, probably you can manage to pay less proportionally.

My only complaint was that toward the end of meal the service got very chaotic, because of too many patrons and of too few waiters, but it should be forgiven considering that it was a short but full touristic period for Greeks due to the long weekend. I guess (hope) they hire more staff in the summer period.

Archondariki tis Maritsas - Αρχονταρίκι της Μαρίτσας
Emmanouil Roidi 8, Ermoupoli, 84100, Syros
Εμμανουήλ Ροΐδη 8, Ermoupoli, 84100, Σύρος

Afterwards, we came back to Mammo for a drink. The waiters who served our lunch were still there and recognised us.

When we asked our waiter what the people next to us were drinking, we took some time to check his 'computer' (that electronic device to transmit orders to the kitchen). I was impressed by his willingness to please customers.

The last day, we rent a car to go around the beaches. And at the end, we stopped at Galissas for lunch.

In Galissas, most of the tavernas are not on the beach, but behind the road. If you want a meal by the sea, you'd have more choices elsewhere. There is a famous taverna called Iliovasilema, but, after the bad experience at Lilis, I intentionally chose the one next to it, called Savvas.

Here is pork cooked with honey and fennel seeds, served with vegetable rice.

We had also fish ala speziota, tomato & cucumber salad, fried potatoes, Nisos beer (from Tinos) and free plate of fruits. The bill was 31.40 Euro. The food was fine, if not great. Except for the fact that we were charged 12 Euro for the fish instead of 10 Euro on the menu, everything was fine. But if I have a chance, I would like to try also Iliovasilema.

Savvas- Σάββας
Galissas, 84100 Syros
Γαλησσάς, 84100 Σύρος
Tel. 22810 42998

And lastly, I have to make a special mention to our best favourite during the trip, an ice cream shop called Django.

They make Italian type ice cream using local ingredients and have really interesting flavours. Besides, they put more than 1 flavours even if you order the smallest cup! The above is 1 small cup of black chocolate & chili sorbet and Pavlova ice cream (1.80 Euro). I ate here ice cream everyday during our stay. The place offers also crepes and gourmet sandwiches.

At the corner of Chiou and Parou, Ermoupoli, 84100, Syros
Χίου & Πάρου, Ερμούπολη 84100, Syros
Tel. 22810 82801

Overall, we ate well in Syros. The prices are relatively high for an average Greek island, but variety is also wider. In this sense, it can be comparable to cosmopolitan Paros, Mykonos or Santorini (but I stayed these place either for very short while or many years ago). You will enjoy the food here.

29 June, 2014

Flavour @ Nea Smyrni (Syggrou Av.)

On Saturdays, we usually go to grocery shopping, gym and my in-law's house and that is pretty much a full-day programme.

Yesterday, however, we broke the routine and did not go to the gym, because I caught cold and was not in shape. So, after the grocery shopping and planning the summer vacation (we are going to Samos in the later half of July), we went to eat pizza.

First we thought of going to Ciao Italia on Syggrou Avenue, but then found on Foursquare another restaurant called Flavour exactly at the same place. As we have been already to Ciao Italia in the past (for a coffee and cake), we decided to try the other one.

The name Flavour might not say anything to you, but if you have past Syggrou Avenue several times, probably you recognise this.

To be honest, I do not recall what shop used to be here (Starbucks maybe?), but it was closed down about at the same time as was Simply Burgers next door (which is now occupied by a high-end-but-not-expensive souvlaki restaurant called Masina). Evidently all there 3 restaurants share the same address, Leof. Syggrou 133. Flavour looks like a cafeteria and you might not have realised that it is actually a restaurant-cafeteria.

Here is the interior. There are some tables outside, but they are not attractive because of the traffic of Syggrou. Inside, although, is another world. Pretty spacious and pleasant (except that they allow smoking indoors).

We went there at a strange hour (at 5 or 6), so menus on the tables were for coffee and drinks. A waitress, however, asked us if we wanted a food menu and it was quickly supplied. The menu includes starters, salads, risotti, pizze, pasta, and main dishes (meats), so I would definite it as an Italian restaurant.

We ordered a pizza sticking to the first intention, but then GH got problemataized in ordering only 1 dish and he added a salad.

The first to arrive was bread. I really do not need bread to eat pizza, but we were not given a choice. If you do not want it, maybe you can tell waiters when you order. The bread itself, however, was pretty good. It was all served warm and accompanied by cream cheese based dip (that you can see on the right edge of the photo).

It costs 80 cents p.p., but if you want bread, it has a good value for money.

To my surprise, they brought an amuse-bouche as well. It is a vegetable soup in a small glass cup.

From the taste point of view it was nothing special, but was pleasant.

This is spinach salad with grilled manouri cheese. A good salad, with difference.

The pizza we ordered was with cheese, ham and rocket (I think it was named prociutto).

Unfortunately it was not so good. The dough was tough without being crispy and the cheese was a wrong kind to be used for pizza, too salty and gooey. It could have been better with a bit of more effort.

And again to our surprise, they offered a free dessert.

It was a lemon cream with lime zest packed in a small glass jar together with biscuit crumbs and caramel sauce.

GH ordered also a cold expresso, which came with pieces of cake.

The total bill, including a small bottle of diet coke, came to 22.90 Euro. Without coffee, it was just under 20 Euro, which I think is a quite good value for money. Besides, the place is really pleasant and the waiters/waitresses quite professional.

We did not like the pizza, but we are willing to try something else at the next time.

Leoforos A. Syggrou 133,
Nea Smyrni, 117 45, Athens
Λεωφόρος Συγγρού 133, Νέα Σμύρνη, 11745 Αθήνα
Tel. 210 9310935

21 June, 2014

Aialis @ Palaio Faliro

One Sunday, we went to a small 'Politiki' restaurant called Aialis in Palio Faliro. You would never learn the existence of such a small cafe/restaurant, if you do not live in the neighbourhood and if there were not internet. Of course this is a pure hypothesis and with the world wide web, you can learn quite a lot about a small restaurant in a town 50 (or 5000) KM away from you.

Indeed it was how I heard about this place. Although I work in the same neighbourhood, as it is located on a side road not visible from a major street, I would never have noticed it if I had not read about it before.

It is quite a small place, maybe with only 7 or 8 tables. In the decor wise, there is not much to say. It looks more like a kafenio than a taverna.

The menu is not long, but neither short for such a small place. We picked up some characteristic dishes.

OK. This one is the least characteristic. Fried potatoes. They look burnt, but tasted ok. Freshly cooked.

This is pastourmadopita (pita kaissarias). Inside the Turkish style fine fyllo, there are yellow cheese, tomato and pastourmas. It was tasty, but the core was strangely cold. This is of course a sign that it was frozen (or it was not well defrosted). I read in reviews of this place that the pastourmadopita here was freshly wrapped and fried. Well, our example showed me that it does not happen every day.

Cioban salad was OK. Nothing spectacular.

This is much praised manti. Each dumpling was very small and I admire the amount of labour put into it. My complaint was that the filling was so little that I scarcely tasted meat. It was fine as pasta dish, but not as meat dumpling dish.

The chopped and fried liver came at the moment when we finished most of the other dishes. It was unfortunate because I am the only person who eat liver (GH never touches liver). By consequence, I had to keep on eating fried (rather oily) liver alone when I was almost full.

Together with a bottle of pleasant Ionian beer (4 Euro), the bill came to 28 Euro. Not expensive, but, when I take into consideration the quality of the food and the service, I won't say it was cheap. It was just average.

Although I won't say that I disliked the place or I regretted to have tried it, one visit is probably enough for me.

Alkyonis 27, Palaio Faliro, 17561
Αλκυόνης 27, Π. Φάληρο, 17561
Tel. 212 1003311 

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