31 October, 2009

Voronof @ Kastela, Piraeus

In Kastella area of Piraeus there are some music taverns. One Friday night of October we decided to visit one of them. In future I hope to visit one by one so that I can offer a complete picture.

The first to come was Voronof, situated between Passalimani and Mikrolimano. According to their website, it offers 90 seatings.

We arrived at 11 o'clock in a Friday evening. In Greek music taverns it seems that the music starts usually from 10.30 or 11, if it is not in touristic places like Plaka where the entertainment starts much earlier.

We were seated on the first floor, as the ground level was occupied by two large groups.

The waiting staff was pleasant and attentive; we were well served even though we were on the upper floor.

Upon seated, we were offered a small bottle of rakomelo and some black olives (on house).

The first three dishes arrived quickly: Green salad (Πράσινη σαλάτα, 5euro), mushrooms in cream (Μανιτάρια αλά κρεμ, 7euro), and diced potato baked in oven (Πατάτες στο φούρνο με τυρί, 6 euro). Unfortunately the photos did not come out very well as it was quite dark inside.

As you see, the price is relatively high for the things they offer, which is all right as we are supposed to pay also for the music. The problem was that the food wasn't that good. We were almost grateful that the portions were not large, as, if they had been, we would not have finished.

The green salad was fine, as you can imagine, it is difficult to go wrong. The diced potato was too greasy from the fat coming out of the cheese. In my opinion, the potato should not be cut so small as, doing so, potato loses the lovely starchy texture. Mushrooms seemed to be from a tin. Personally, it did not bother me, as tinned mushrooms were my childhood comfort food. Just that the cream did not have any particular taste and rather bland.

It took quite a while for grilled meat patties (Μπιφτέκια, 9 euros) to arrive

Unfortunately, it did not worth the wait. The taste of meat wasn't bad, but the patties were too dry and it was difficult to swallow. The chips strangely tasted like crisps and were disgusting.

The best thing we ate that night was the home-made cream pie (σπιτικό μπουγατσά) offered at the end of meal.

I don't like bougatsa when the cream tastes too much of semolina flour, but this one has almost the perfect flavour. I know. The picture does not do justice.

Now, about the entertainment. The music was more than OK. There were a guitar player and a bouzouki player. They were also singers, and both played very well.

Some people danced.

But the dancing space wasn't large enough to allow more than 5 or 6 persons at a time.

With 750ml of house wine, the bill came to 35 euros (there was two errors in the first bill which was 3 euros more, but I don't think they did it on pourpose). This probably isn't bad considering that it included entertainment. I just wish that the food was a little bit better. We might go back there for the music, but definitely not for food.

Karatza 29, Kastella, Piraeus
Tel. 210-41.30.503.

Καρατζά 29, Καστέλλα, Πειραιάς
Τηλ. 210-41.30.503.

Dodoni @ Marina Zea, Piraeus

Also in Piraeus there is one outlet of Dodoni (Δωδώνη) - the ubiquitous ice cream franchise in Greece. I don't know the exact address, but it is in Passalimani (Marina Zea), not so far from Carrefour heading toward West.

It might sound surprising and it makes me surprise that I have never eaten Dodoni ice cream, either in shop or at home (packaged Dodoni ice cream is widely available in supermarket in Greece). I don't know why. Maybe because of my general tendency to avoid franchise shops. Who knows?

But, then, an occasion presented itself finally. Hubby and I were walking Passalimani looking for a cafeteria. We wanted also something sweet as it was getting close to noon. Dodoni, which sells also crepes and waffles, looked to be an attractive choice.

The location isn't really attractive directly facing to a busy street. Maybe for this reason, here any coffee costs only 2 euros. Besides coffees, we ordered also Strawberry jam and whipped cream crepe with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

The crepe itself wasn't bad, although slightly too thick and soft to my taste. Jam wasn't of particularly good quality and whipped cream wasn't dairy. I was expecting it, as the price was around 4 euros, but the fact that the vanilla ice cream scarcely smelling of vanilla was beyond my expectation. I did not like the ice cream AT ALL. It was pretty artificial and there was nothing noteworthy. We did not even finish it.

It was good to know that it sells coffees for 2 euros, but I won't go back for crepe or, all the less, for ice cream.

28 October, 2009

Grill Square @ Omonia Square, Athens

One day I casually visited Grill Square in the Omonia Square.

I don't know the exact address, but, as you see in the photo, it is directly facing to the Omonoia Square and just next to Macdonald's.

They allow both take-out and eat-in (self-service) and the price does not differ. Besides gyros and kalamaki, they sell also grilled chicken.

I had a pork souvlaki in pita (1.80 euro) and a bottle of water.

Fine. No complaint.

The best thing about this place is the seating space. In Omonia Square there is the famous Gonia souvlaki shop, but it does not have seat. I have to stress also that the shop is clean and bright enough that even a lone woman can eat-in without feeling uneasy. I will be probably back.

25 October, 2009

Ta Giouvetsakia @ Plaka, Athens

Last Wednesday was an unusual day for me.

Usually I lead pretty quiet life. Weekdays especially. Go to school in the morning and do some work at home in the afternoon, then wait for Hubby to return at around 9 o'clock. When we finish dining, it is too late to go out, so we remain home until bedtime.

It was different last Wednesday. First, after school, two of my schoolmates took me to school canteen for lunch. Food wasn't nice, but good was the company. Then I went home.

While having a coffee in front of my PC, an ex-language schoolmate of mine invited me for a drink in Athens. I accepted the offer and went out to get a bus.

While I was waiting for a bus, another friend of mine from UK asked me if it was ok to meet in the evening. I remembered vaguely that there was that appointment, but not having heard from him until that very day, I took it for cancelled (he was visiting Greece only for a week for work staying in Athens only for some days, so it seemed probable to me that he would run out of time). Luckily, the time he suggested was quite late, so I could make for both meet-ups.

Then, while the ex-schoolmate and I were walking around looking for where to settle, we met another ex-school friend of ours just by chance!

Now that I think, the whole last week was unusual. Monday I met another person for a coffee and Thursday as well. Friday with another person for dinner.

It must have been a chance, but I cannot help but thinking if all these have any hidden meaning.

Personal matters aside, now I have to write about this restaurant Ta Giouvetsakia. I did not took any photo this time and the one below was taken last year.

Ta Giouvetsakia

This is the retaurant I went with the friend from UK I mentioned above. There joined another friend who lives now in Greece but I first met in UK. This restaurant was suggested by the English friend who has been here several times in the past.

We ordered three mezedakia, three main dishes and one salad. The mezedakia = orektika were fava, tyrokafteri and boiled beetroot. The main dishes were fried gavros (anchovies), beef with aubergine, and baked chicken and fried potatoes. The salad was shredded cabbage and carrot. We had also a half kilo of house wine.

Let's go more into the detail. The orektika dishes were all fine. Tyrokafteri looked suspiciously white - not cheesy white, but snow white - but on tasting it, it was quite acceptable with nice kick of green fresh chili. Mashed fava (=yellow split peas) was decorated with chopped fresh red onion and olive oil. Never having eaten fava in this way (but this is the commonest way of eating fava in Greece), I could not compare, but I liked it. Boiled beetroot was again fine: very sweet with only slight earthiness.

Among the main dishes, the one looked the best was the beef with aubergine. It came in small youvetsi earthen ware. Judging from the name of the restaurant, the dishes cooked in youvetsi are their specialities. The other main dishes and the salad were also ok.

After the meal, we were offered semolina halvas for free.

The total bill for 7 dishes and 1/2 litre of wine came to just below 50 euros (I cannot give you the break-down, as our server never returned us the receipt). For the central Plaka, the price looked fair. I won't go back there with Hubby, but if I need to take foreign visitors to Plaka, this place is an acceptable choice.

Ta Giouvetsakia (Γιουβετσάκια)
144 Adrianou and Thespidos
Plaka, Athens

20 October, 2009

Istioploikos @ Mikrolimano Piraeus

Hubby and I went to Istioploikos in Mikrolimano for a coffee on a Sunday in September.

On the previous day, an acquaintance of mine told me that it was a very nice place and that was why I felt I should come and see. Otherwise, I would not have gone at all, as I had an impression that this is that sort of place where people go just to show off.

Istioploikos is on one end of Mikrolimano and it belongs to the yacht club in front. There is a section reserved for the club members, but the rest of the space is open to all who are ready to pay!

It has two storeys: the lower storey is restaurant and the upper one is cafe-bar which becomes club in the evening. Below is the view from the upper floor.

It was packed in this Sunday afternoon, but fortunately we could grab a table just vacated. They serve light meals as well as coffees and alcoholic drinks, but many people seem to use it as a bar rather than a cafeteria.

Price is high. Higher than other cafeterias in Mikrolimano, but not higher than in Marina Zea, I thought.

This September was rather cool and wet and this Sunday wasn't an exception and that was why I ordered a cappuccino, if you were wondering why I should order a hot cappuccino in mid-September in Greece.

Coffee was wine. What I did not like at all was loud music; it was difficult to have a conversation. Obviously it is purely a personal preference and many people prefer this way. Just that if you want to enjoy your coffee quietly, forget about the cafeteria of Istioploikos during the weekend.

The restaurant below has a view closer to the water, something like the one below. Maybe it is more attractive in the evening. It was quiet and a different environment from the cafeteria-bar above.


My impression of Istioploikos is rather negative. Not because it is bad absolutely, but because it does not suit me.

On our way to the bus stop, we found this attractive cat.

Akti Mikrolimanou
Tel. 210 41.34.084

Ακτή Μικρολίμανου
Τηλ. 210 41.34.084

18 October, 2009

Rakadiko @ Piraeus (near the station)

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Stoa Kouvelou
Karaoli kai Dimitriou 5
Tel. 210 41.78.470

Στοά Κούβελου
Καραολή κ Δημιτρίου
Τηλ. 210 41.78.470

14 October, 2009

Filema Mezedopoleio @ Central Athens

Tried Filema Mezedopoleio in Romvis Street in central Athens this Monday for lunch.


I don't exactly know how this area is called. It isn't Plaka, Monastiraki, Syntagma, or Psyrri, although it is really central. If anyone know how this triangle made by Athinas, Ermou and Panepistimiou streets is called, please let me know.

Romvis is a short and narrow street that runs between Kolokotroni and Perikleous streets. Regardless of its shortness, there are as many as 4 eateries (if I remember well) and it is a perfect lunch spot for those who work nearby.

Filema has two shops facing each other across the street. We ate at the shop in front of the one in the photo. The kitchen is in the latter.

When we arrived at 12:50, most of the 'dishes of the day' are not yet available. So we chose mostly from the regular menu.

These dishes arrived quite quickly: horta (4 euros), midopirafo (rice cooked with mussles - 7 euros), and chips (3 euros). They were all acceptably good, although not "surprisingly good". The mussles tasted pretty fresh and were not over-done. Chips looked fresh and hand-cut.

The prawn saganaki (6.50 euros) took ages to arrived and when it eventually did, we have almost fished all of the three dishes above.

To be honest, the frozen prawns were rather tasteless and I wished I had ordered something else. But to be brutally honest, for 6.50 euros, I think I have got what I paid.

Speaking about value for money, the portion size here was all very generous for meze dishes. We both thought that 3 dishes would have enough to feed us 2 well.

And not only.

After the meal, we were offered free desserts. Again, not that good, but nice touch.

For the four dishes and a bottle of coke (we were given free tap water as well) we paid 24.50 euros. It is pretty good value in central Athens, is it not?

Even so, I doubt if I will go back. My impression was that the food wasn't interesting enough for me to return. However, if you happen to work nearby or if you want a quick but sit-down meal in this area, this cheerful and budget-conscious small mezedopoleio is not at all a bad place to go.

Mezedopoleio To Filema
Romvis 16, Athens
tel. 210-3250222

Μεζεδοπωλείο Το Φίλεμα
Ρόμβης 16, Αθήνα
τηλ. 210-3250222

13 October, 2009

Peiraiki with Wind and Wave

I got out from the bus around 1:30 PM today to go home and this view was in front of me.

It was not totally sunny or cloudy and there was strong wind blowing. The seawater was unusually muddy.

Two young Greeks who got off at the same stop also stood still to admire the view.

They say that tomorrow the temperature will drop by 10 centigrade or so. The winter is coming.

11 October, 2009

i CAN has cheezburger!

Today's lunch: a cheeseburger and a diet coke at Macdonald's, Syntagma Square.


Although I don't hit fastfood chains in principle, I have to admit a certain weakness toward Macdonal's cheeseburger. I have no idea if it is better or worse than other cheeseburgers, having so little experience in burgers in general, but it does hit the spot for me. It might have something to do with the fact that, in my university days, it was one of the cheapest food I could find in town and ate it from time to time when I did not have time to go home to eat.

The Syntagma cheeseburger tasted butter than what I remember and I enjoyed every mouthful. It was a magical cheeseburger moment.


Then I got 040 bus from Syntagma to go home. This weekend there is a disruption of Ilektriko line between Kallithea and Nea Ionia and it is almost unusable for me.

In the bus an Egyptian guy sat down next to me and he started to talk to me because I am beautiful and he wanted to marry a Japanese woman. Usual stuff. Well, not because I am beautiful. It is because that is a sort of things they say.

He said he was a farmacist in Egypt, but just a casual worker in Greece. He has been living in Greece for 19 years and is hoping to get a Greek citizenship.

I feel for these fully capable people not being to able to find adequate job in their own country and have to do lower grade job abroad. When somebody is born in rich country, he/she find a job even with a modest effort and capacity, while someone is born in poor country, he/she cannot make living even making more efforts and having more capacity. We all know life isn't fair, but still the thought is depressing.

06 October, 2009

Πήγαινε στην χώρα σου!

Yesterday, when I was in a bus on my way to Piraeus station, a foreign guy (East European) got on with his boxer dog without mouth cover.

The driver stop the bus, came to the rear of the bus where the foreigner was standing and shout at him.

The foreigner put a mouth cover to the dog, but the driver kept of shouting and urged him to get off the bus.

The foreigner, whose Greek was so and so and covered with tatto on all over his body, explained that his dog wouldn't cause any trouble.

Some of the elderly women on the bus started to shout at him: Πήγαινε στην χώρα σου! (Go back to your country!)

The guy eventually got off the bus cursing the others in his language.

The experience left me a bitter taste. It is fair enough if the women shouted at him for his bad manner (there were small children standing near him and probably it isn't allowed to bring large animals in the bus anyway), but the shout was very xenophobic.

05 October, 2009

Shopkeeping Cat

She was shop-keeping. But it wasn't a busy day and she started to sleep.

Then a human came. She said "Welcome".

Instead, this is a Theatre-of-Dionysos Cat.

Very friendly. Some of the cats here were castrated males; I wondered if some animal protection people did it. Anyone who it might have been, "Good work"! I do love cats, but we cannot sustain all of them, if they start to multiplicate seriously.

03 October, 2009

Apple Pie in Anaxos, Lesvos

Writing the Lesvos section in Gate to Greece, I came across this photo.

These are a chocolate croissant and an apple pie I bought from a bakery in Anaxos.

This bakery is excellent and has a lot of stuff; not only bread, but also cakes and ice creams. The price also was very good; a simple tyropita (cheese pie) cost 1 € only.

One of my pleasure during the trip is to have breakfast with freshly baked pastries. I have had many experiences of hotel breakfast, but for some reason it can never beat the breakfast in bakeries or with bread fresh from bakeries. When I am pressed by time, of course, I prefer to eat the breakfast at the hotel, but, otherwise, the hotel breakfast is better be avoided.

This bakery in Anaxos did not have eat-in tables, so one morning I went alone to buy breakfast bread, as Hubby sleep until late in the morning on his days off. There I spotted 'milopita' (apple pie). Apple pie being my favourite pie, I settled on it, but then I noticed a problem; the name plate of apple pie was put in front of bougatsa (cream pie), and the bougatsa plate was in front of apple pies.

When I asked the woman at the counter an apple pie, as I expected, she gave me bougatsa (usually, bougatsa looks quite different from milopita, but this bakery makes bougatsa with the same dough as apple pie's). I said her politely that it looked bougatsa to me. But she was quite confident that it was apple pie.

I repeated twice my doubt, but she insisted in her error. Being more confident than she was (because from the position I was standing at I could see the filling, while she couldn't), I paid the price, broke the bougatsa into two, and showed her that it was actually bougatsa.

Finally I won my apple pie.

I am sorry about the bougatsa that probably she should have to discard, but I really wanted apple pie, and I can tell you that it was worth the effort!

By the way, the chocolate croissant was for Hubby; he does not like the texture of cooked apple and always avoids apple pie.

02 October, 2009

Dragon fries at New Acropolis Museum

When I went to the New Acropolis Museum on 16 September 2009, I saw something strange happening in front of it.

This is glass flooring in front of the building. Through the glass, we can admire the antiquities just below the museum.

Just over the surface of the glass floor, there were many copulating dragon fries. Can you see them?

They were thinking planting eggs in water. The shining glass was just like the shining surace of lake or river.

Considering the number of dragon fries is dwindling, it was a shame that their eggs were wasted in this way.

New Entry: Dosirak Japanese-Korean Restaurant

I wrote a review of Dosirak Japanese Korean restaurant near Syntagma Square.



I actually liked this place better than the Japanese-owned Furin Kazan. If I should speak about authenticity, Furin Kazan probably is the better, but for the value-for-money factor and for the variety of menu items, my preference goes to Dosirak.

Only negative factor is that inside the restaurant it does not smell Japanese cuisine. But, if you are not Japanese, the probability is that you won't notice and it is negligible.

01 October, 2009

New Acropolis Museum Cafeteria

Having some time to kill in Athens, I visited the New Acropolis Museum for the second time. It was in afternoon of an weekday and there was hardly any queue for ticket.

I knew that there was a panoramic restaurant in the museum, but I rather opted the cafeteria in the ground floor as I wanted to eat something before starting the viewing.

Beside drinks, they offer light meals like sandwich and cakes.

Sandwich menu is rather interesting, in the sense that there is no 'ham and cheese sandwich', but 'smorked turkey ham and katsiki cheese from Domokos sandwich' and so on. I choose the one seemed the most adventurous: Kalloni (town in Lesvos) sardine, grey mullet bottarga, and fresh basil leaves in semolina bread sandwich.

I like fish sandwich, but this one was far too salty to my taste buds. Kalloni sardines are salt cured and the ratio of salted fish againt bread was too high. I quickly finished diet coke and a glass of water to get the sandwich through my mouth.

The remarkable point about this cafeteria is, however, the pricing. Sandwiches are beteen 2.80 and 3.50 euros and cakes are 3 euros. Soft drinks are about 2 euros, so you can have a light lunch only for 5 euros circa. Considering the cafeteria of National Archaeological Museum charges exorbitant price, it is a great bargain.

Just that I will order something else next time. ;)

P.S. I visited this place on a different day and the service was quite caotic. Yes, it was busy, but it does not have so many tables and there were 5 or 6 service persons. You might have to be a bit patient on one of busy days.