30 November, 2012

Uncle Alexis the Second @ Renti

I love Politiki kouzina (n.b. Politikos, Politiki, Politiko etc here all mean Constantinopoletan), but the Politika restaurants that I knew were not very convenient to me in one way or another. That was why we went to explore the one called Barbalexis that I found on the website www.ask4food.gr.

This website is an excellent source of information for restaurants in Athens. I consult it very often, although it is too daunting for me to contribute anything in Greek.

Anyway, Barbalexis is in Agios Ioannis Rendis, between Piraeus and Athens and it is less than 10 km from us. It was easy to park roadside in Sunday afternoon. Another "plus".

On arrival, I discovered the place was not called Barbalexis, but Barba Alexis 2. And later we learnt that it is the second shop of Barba Alexis in Nea Philadelphia. So, the one in Renti is Uncle Alexis the Second.

The restaurant was tucked away from the road Fleming and facing to a large park that looked to be a conversion from an old olive oil factory. Before I saw the restaurant, I was afraid that it might be an old dirty kebab hut and GH would not like it (he is an "atmosphere eater" who does not eat well if he does not like the environment, while I remain totally impassive and understand only the food), but there was no reason for me to worry; it was a totally cosy and clean taverna. Not a huge place, so if you are visiting during the busy hours like Sunday lunch time, you may be fare better reserving a table.

The menu is adequately long; there are starters, mezedes, salads, meat and seafood. You can read it in the website that I post below. Not being hungry, we picked up only 3 plates.

Warm pita was handmade and freshly baked. It was enormous for 2 people and we managed to eat only a half.

From the starters, we chose one called Ali Nazik. I have seen Ali Nazik kebab (in Aladdin in P. Faliro, if I remember well), but never as a meze.

The white part is a mixture of yoghurt, aubergine and dill, and on top of that there is a bit of meat sauce. It was a heavenly combination and I liked it a lot.

And as another starter, or meze, we ordered Xeirovomvides (hand grenades) which are better known to many as Icli Kofte or Kibbeh, although these did not have classical kibbeh shape.

They are bulgur croquettes filled with minced meat. Freshly fried and very hot. These immediately won over GH.

Be warned that they are very filling, even though the quantity of mince inside is not much.

As usual we ordered only 1 main dish between us. This is Kousbasi, practically chili marinaded pork souvlakia.

Again, it was to my taste. The pork contained an adequate quantity of fat and was still pink in the inside. As far as I know, the Greeks tend to like their pork souvlaki very lean and grilled to dry, so I won't swear that you shall love it if you are Greek.

At the end, we were offered a piece of Kazan Dipi (we were so full that we request the waitress to bring us only 1 piece, and not 2).

It wasn't the real Kazan Dipi with chicken breast, but it wasn't panna cotta either. At least it contained rice flour and was properly caramelized on one side.

With a bottle of beer, the bill was 23 Euro. We would go back definitely.

Barba Alexis 2
Fleming 48, Agios Ioannis Rendis
182 33, Athens
Τηλ. 210-483 5903

Μπάρμπα Αλέξης 2
Φέμινγκ 48, Αγιος Ιωάννης Ρέντης


Afterwards, we went to Le Chocolat in Thissio for coffee with a friend. And I found this offer. 2 plates with a drink for 15 Euro, everyday except Saturday.

If you like this sort of place, I guess it is a good offer.

23 November, 2012

Eating for 10 Euro @ Polly Maggoo

On 20th November (Tue.), GH and I went to try 10 Euro menu of Vgainoume Athina (Βγαίνουμε Αθήνα, rough translation should be "We go out to Athens") project this time at Polly Maggoo, near Athiri where we had gone last week. It is one of the few French(-oriented) restaurants in Athens.

It was rainy day. There was generally little people on the street and likewise there were few at the restaurant; less than a half of the tables were occupied at the point we left at 9:30.

The menu on offer on the day was:

Bread and humous (obligatory 1 Euro charge for 2)
1st course - Potato and leek potage
2nd course - A slip of braised pork belly on creamed potato
               (alternatively, vegetable risotto)
3rd course - Chocolate mousse

We were asked if we wanted to add salad  (7 Euro) from their a la carte menu. Of course, I said no, because my purpose was to see what a restaurant can offer for 10 Euro p.p.. If I added something else, it surely should have influenced my opinion. So, no.

We were asked if we wanted bottled water or tap water, but without listening to our answer, the waiter (who should be the owner or manager) opened a cap of bottled water. Again, I refused it (because I was intending to order wine, so did not want to pay also for water which I did not know if I was to drink it or not). I managed to refuse the water, but to the other tables he just brought bottled water without asking if they wanted or not. Maybe because he learned from the mistake.

We ordered 2 glasses of red wine. There was only one variety and a glass cost 5 Euro. 1 Euro more than at Athiri. However, abiding by Vgainoume Athina project, there was also a bottled wine for 12 Euro.

The food was tasty (except for the dessert, but don't trust me, for I do not like chocolate mousse in general), but the portion was small. If you are a normal eater by Greek standard, you would need another dish (possibly to share between 2) to eat enough, or to drink a lot of wine.

And you cannot help but notice the repetition of potato in the first and the second dish. Not well thought out, or were they just thinking about using cheap ingredients?

The final bill was 31 Euro. It was interesting, but not impressive.

There is a big difference of philosophy between Polly Maggoo and Athiri. Athiri was trying to organize a hearty menu without making the guests spend more than 10 Euro in food, while Polly Maggoo was looking to a menu which is minimum if tasty AND can make some extra cash if possible. I liked the foord at Polly Maggoo, but did not feel sympathy that I felt for Athiri.

I checked also their a la carte menu. Starters are mostly 9 Euro, salads for 7 and the main dishes either 12 or 14 Euro, even though there was not particularly expensive material. You are paying 12 Euro for pasta and risotto, 14 Euro for veal liver or for salmon. Desserts were not on the menu, so I did not learn how much they cost. So one should spend 23 Euro for 2 course and 28 Euro adding a glass of wine. Paying also for bread, bottled water that they bring it to your table and a few Euro of tip, it is difficult to get away without spending 30 Euro per person, if you eat normally.

Rather expensive, especially when you consider it is situated in Metaxiourgio and it does not have beautiful space like Athiri does. The décor reminded me of Hell's Kitchen which used to be near Omonia, if anyone remembers it.

To be able to enjoy food at Polly Maggoo, I think I need to have some extra money that I would like to spend away.

Polly Maggoo
Leonidou 80 and Salaminos, Metaxiourgio, Athens
Λεωνίδου 80 και Σαλαμίνος, Μεταξουργείο, Αθήνα
Tel. 210 5241120

21 November, 2012

Burger Times @ Glyfada

I am not a burger-lover, but GH sometimes wants to eat burgers and I need to accompany him. It was one such Sunday afternoon.

I searched around the web and found this burger shop enjoys quite a good reputation.

Burger Times. It is on Konstaninopoleos Street, i.e. in Biftekoupoli. As the burger patty is basically a bifteki, we can say that it is situated in the right place.

When we arrived in the Sunday afternoon, at around 3:30, there was no customer inside. There were three people in the shop, a young man at the bar counter, an older man who was the cook and probably the father of the young man, and a woman who I thought was the wife of the cook (she is in the photo above). So, basically, it is a family run burger shop (ikogeniako burgeradiko).

The menu is rather long for such a burger shop. Apart from the burgers, there are various starters (nachos, buffalo wings, etc), salads, wraps, hot dogs, and desserts. There was also a not-bad selection of beers.

For burgers, you can choose the patty size from 100, 200 or 285 g, and you can even order it without side. It was written that the beef was Angus, whatever it means (I know that Angus is the name of the cattle, but to be honest, I do not know what is the difference from the other beef in taste-wise).

GH ordered a 500ml Vergina Weiss beer, which was reasonably priced at 4 Euro. I ordered a bottle of coke (250ml, 2 Euro).

And burgers. They arrived suspiciously quickly. Here is 200g Old Western Burger for 8.50 Euro, with the side of salad and country potatoes.

Here is my Chili Burger for 8.50 Euro, with the side of salads.

I ordered the patty to be medium-rare, but it was cooked below rare. The centre was still cold. Being afraid of food poisoning, I sent it back to the kitchen.

The Old Western Burger that GH ordered "well-done" also was undercooked to "medium", to say the least.. The centre was still red, not even pink.

No wonder that the burgers appeared so quickly.

A guy seated behind me also sent his burger back to the kitchen, as it was not "well-done" as he liked.

I am not sure what to think. Was the cook not in the right mood, or the kitchen grill was not functioning properly? In Greece, the default way of grilling meat is "well-done", so under-cooking burgers is really strange, especially when the restaurant is not busy.

After the meal, we were offered "mosaiko" or "kormos", which were pretty good.

I am not sure if they always offer the dessert, or only to the unhappy customers.

The total bill came to 23 Euro, which is not bad, as far as the food is cooked correctly.

A sympathetic burger shop, but I would not rush to return.

Burger Times
Konstantinopoleos 14
Tel. 210-8920959

Kωνσταντινουπόλεως 14

The place is mentioned in the following websites.
Athens Menu
Glyfada Life

17 November, 2012

Eating for 10 Euro @ Athiri

This Tuesday, GH and I went to Athiri in Keramikos-Gazi to try their 10 Euro menu for the project "Βγενουμε Αθηνα" by the City of Athens.

We arrived at 8 o'clock in the evening at the totally empty restaurant. For first 30 minutes it remained almost empty, but at around 9 o'clock, it was almost full. Evidently many people came with reservation; and most of the guests were ordering 10 Euro menu, but there were some tables ordering a la carte.

I knew that 10 Euro menu consisted in 3 courses, but Athiri offers generous 4 course menu, i.e., soup, salad, main, and dessert. Considering one a-la-carte main dish at Athiri costs around 15 Euro, this is a bargain and is a good opportunity to try the restaurant for those who has never been there.

The menu was more or less like as follows:
1st: Carrot and Orange Soup
2nd: Green Salad with Sunflower Seeds
3rd: Pork and Cabbage in Lemon Sauce, mixed with Rice
4th: Creme Brulee

Ah, and very lovely pieces of bread were also included. They even gave us a choice between tap water (free) and bottled water (2 Euro).

A glass of red wine starts from 4 Euro (and white was cheaper, but don't remember exactly how much) and a bottle starts from 13 Euro (white) or 15 Euro (red).

I took photographs, but decided not to publish them here, because it might not be fair to show only the special-offer dishes of the restaurant.

The food wasn't super-impressive, but I can assure you that it is pleasant enough (and plenty) for 10 Euro. Taking 23% VAT in consideration, it should be almost cost-price.

Just two caveats.

1) Book a table beforehand.
2) If you are not a flexible eater, ask the menu before you decide to book.The menu is fixed and there is no choice but to eat what they offer.

Plateon 15, Keramikos
104 35 Athens
Tel. 210 3462983 / 210 4940672

Πλαταιών 15, Κεραμεικός
Τηλ: 210 3462983 / 210 4940672
Email: athirirestaurant@gmail.com

And recently, I read on Lifo that Athiri is offering a menu of 15 Euro everyday except Saturday and Monday until 23 December 2012. The menu looks vegetarian at this moment (the menu changes every week), but if do not mind...
More details here.

15 November, 2012

Kazakh Restaurant Eugenios @ Kallithea

Having heard about various Russian restaurants in Kallithea, I have always been curious, but I have never visited any, because, basically, I do not like much Russian food.

But, when I heard that there is one Russian-Kazakh restaurant, I decided I could try it.

It is called Eugenios and situated in Kallithea, between Thiseos and Sygrou Streets.

It was a Sunday afternoon, which is usually busy hours for restaurants, so I called 1 hour ahead to know if there was a table at 3:30. The owner told me that there was not need to book, because there should not be much people. Better.

The decor is minimalistic.

Except for this Kazakhstan shrine.

In the restaurant there was a couple who should be the owners and the woman helped us to choose the dishes. There is not strange stuff like horse meat which seems to be a popular meat in Kazakhstan and there are more familiar Russian dishes like pelmeni (maybe it was not exactly in this name, but its variety).

GB ordered a "local" beer which turned out to be Ukrainian.

Russian Salad (5 Euro). It is with green peas, potatoes, gherkin pickles, boiled eggs, ham/sausage and carrots, as far as I remember.

Very generous portion and we did not manage to eat it all.

We ordered also a pita because we were told we needed one. It tasted like something between bread and pita.

This is beef (veal) in terracotta pot. We laughed because we ate something very similar in Pelion last summer. Pelion and Kazakhstan. Ha ha ha ha ha.

In the pot, there were potatoes, preurotous mushroom, sliced meat and cheese on top. The soup smelled sheep, maybe because there was sheep fat it it. Nice.

Manti (6 Euro) came in a very generous portion and were served with soy sauce, white vinegar and chili paste (adzika?).

The filling was mixture of minced meat, cabbage and possibly onion. We liked these very much.

The last to come were shashlik - souvlaki. On the menu there were chicken, pork and lamb and we could choose whichever combination we wanted. We ordered 1 chicken (2.50 Euro) and 1 lamb (3 Euro).

They were sprinkled generously with vinegar. Both very nice, but I liked better lamb.

Here our stomachs reached their capacity and gave up. The total bill was 25.50 Euro. Excellent value for money. I am not sure how typically Kazakh the food was (I think the owners were from there, but the "Russians" in Athens are often of Greek origins), but surely we will come back.

Open everyday except Monday, from 1 o'clock onward.

Andromachis 267, Kallithea
Tel. 210 9410001

Ανδρομάχης 267, Καλλιθέα,
17674, Αττική

11 November, 2012

One Saturday Afternoon in Ampelokipoi

Yesterday afternoon, around 15 o'clock, GH and I visited Ampelokipoi.

Actually, I wanted to go to Exarchia, but GH strongly opposed. He says that there are so many drug addicts on the streets there that he does not feel comfortable. It is true that, when we went there once maybe 2 years ago, we saw a couple of guys injecting something in the vein in the plain day light, but I did not feel particularly unsafe.

Anyway, so we had to go to somewhere else and ended up in Ampelokipoi.

It was very cold day and it was not pleasant to walk around, so we stopped at a new wave souvlaki shop ("souvlakerie") called Boutique Souvlaki.

The heater was on, but it was still very cold inside and I could not take my jacket off. Not very pleasant.

The menu was of usual psistaria, except that there was no gyro, if I remember well. Price is same both for eat in and take away.

In general, the price is about 10% higher than traditional souvlaki shops (psistaries) and a bottle of water (1 Euro) is obligatory order. Still it is cheaper than at restaurants/ tavernes. A small bottle of beer was 1.60 or 1.70 Euro. They had also one kind of non-bottled beer (maybe Alfa, but I am not totally sure).

There are 5 or 6 kinds of salads. We ordered grilled vegetables & haloumi cheese (6 Euro).

Nicely presented and tasty.

And we ordered a main dish to share: pork steak (7.50 Euro).

The meat had right amount of fat and pleasant, if it was undersalted (but there were salt and pepper on the table). The size of meat I believe was rather small by Greek standard.

One important observation is that there is no pita on the plate. In traditional psistaries, the portions (merides) come with potatoes AND pites. If you want pita, you need to order separately.

The total bill came to 16.20 Euro. We did not order much. If we ordered right amount of food for 2 people, we would have spent surely above 20 Euros. Cheaper than at tavernes, but slightly more expensive than at traditional psistaries. Not that we regretted to have been here, but it was not a sort of place we would like to go back.

Boutique Kalamaki
Karystou 3, Ampelokipoi, Athens
Καρύστου 3 , Αμπελόκηποι, Αθήνα
Tel 210-699 5840

Afterwards, we stopped at a cafe / bar called Zen for a coffee.

We ordered also an apple pie, 4.90 Euro.

It was quite average and did not taste fresh. Did not worth for the price we paid.

Before we leave, we bought some bread and cakes from a bakery called Spyrou. Here are cherry pies for 2 Euro per piece.

The crust was crumbly and it contained right amount of cherry filling. I wish I could get such a nice cherry pie in my neighbourhood. The shop is close to Sklavenitis supermarket of Plateia Kanellopoulou (and there seems to be 2 more shops in Ampelokipoi).

07 November, 2012

Kunefe @ Serbetia stou Psyrri

Recently I visited with a friend Serbetia stou Psyrri, rare Greek patisserie + cafeteria in central Athens.

In Athens, most patisseries just sell sweets and do not serve them on the spot. So, I admire the person who decided to open such a place in the heart of Athens.

We had a very specific objective for this visit; to try their Kunefe. We love kunefe, but of course it is not something we can eat everywhere in Athens and the places I know that serve kunefes are mostly restaurants, meaning that we need to eat kebabs to arrive at kunefe stage. Consider kebab as a hurdle and kunefe as the goal; not very tempting.

At Serbetia, there is a wide range of Greek-oriental sweets, mostly for 5 Euro, and there are some specialities like kunefe for 8 Euro. A cup of tea costs 3.50 Euro, so expect to pay about 9 Euro for a piece of cake, a humble cup of tea and tip, which is not exactly cheap; I think they should offer some discount for those who order both sweets and drink.

Whatever. Here is their Kunefe that I shared with the friend (there was no way that I eat one on my own; it was huge and VERY sweet).

Basically it was warm kantaifi pastry with cheesy custard filling and kaimaki ice cream (not totally cold, strange ice cream) on top. The pasty wasn't freshly baked and filling wasn't cheesey enough. The ice cream I thought was overwhelming.

It was definitely not the right kunefe that I had in mind. Disappointed.

This friend of mine who was with me loved kunefe so much that she went to Istanbul to try it (OK, that was not the only purpose of the trip) and even tried to bake it at home. She was not impressed by this one either.

Another friend who joined later asked a waitress how was their kazan dipi was like and was informed that it wasn't authentic Turkish sort that contains chicken breast. So he ordered a kadaifi with cream. I tried it, too, but was again below average.

I did not regret to have tried this place, but do not have any intention to go back. Hatzis Cafeteria in Syntagma does better Oriental sweets. Of course it is slightly pricier, but, in comparison to Serbetia, I believe it is worth paying.


Serbetia stou Psyrri
Eshilou 3, near the Central Square of Psyrri
Τηλ. 210 3245862

Σερμπέτια στου Ψυρρή
Αισχύλου 3,
Πλατεία Ψυρρή
Τηλ. 210 3245862
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