31 March, 2012

Thalassinos @ Tzitzifies

It has been a long time since the last time we found a restaurant that serves interesting food. We visited good ones, value ones, sympathetic ones, but we do not remember which was the last one we said "Wow!".

You might say that it is because we go only to cheap restaurants and I can answer it is VERY TRUE. I will return to this point a bit later.

The restaurant we visited was a fish tavern in Tzitzifies (Kallithea, Athens) called Thalassinos. Tzitzifies is not one of the hip places of Athens, but there are quite a lot of noteworthy restaurants for some reason. Thalassinos is one of them.

From outside, it is unpretentious, at the best.


When you enter inside, your impression would certainly change. It does look more ... expensive. In this photo there is only one couple, but in later hours, more and more people arrive (and unfortunately the hall got filled with cigarette smoke!).


The menu is quite long, but some of the items are not offered everyday. Your waiter will explain to you what are the "today's dish".

There are many meze dishes, while what they define as "main dishes" are only big fishes, which are very expensive as in every fish restaurants in Greece. However, they don't mind us ordering only mezedes, so nothing to worry about (I did not see any table with large fish).


The bread was served with a sort of tomato salza with fine bulgur. The waiter warned us that it was hot, we did not understand any hint of chili. It was probably because I have an Asian tongue and Greek Husband's have been accustomed to my cooking little by little in past years.

We did not order any "salata" (dips for bread or raw vegetables) variety and got only boiled stamnagathi.


First meze was garidoprasopitakia (small pies with prawns and leek).


Excellent crunchy fyllo pastry and nice flavour of filling with sweet leek and flagrant dill. I usually do not like fried pitakia (small pies), but these convinced me.

Next meze, seafood kokoretsi.


From the name I expected something rolled & sliced dry food, but turned out to be tomato stewed seafood (squids, octopus, prawns and sliced mushrooms). We were not impressed at the first look, but on tasting it, we were duly impressed by the strength of flavour.

Fried potatoes would have gone very well with this dish, but the restaurant does not offer normal patatoules (they have fried match-stick potatoes), so we did not order it.

There are three varieties of pasta and we ordered one of these: spaghetti with seafood.


It turned out to be linguine with vongole and tomato sauce. It was evident that they use very high quality tomato to make the sauce. Even though some of the clams had sands and it was slightly over salted, it is a pasta that I would expect to eat at a good Italian restaurant and not at a Greek taverna.

The total bill came to 50 Euro & below is the details:

Bread x 2 = 1.80 Euro
Stamnagathi = 6 Euro
Garidoprasopitakia (4 pieces) = 7.90 Euro
Seafood Kokoretsi = 14.90 Euro
Spaghetti = 14.90 Euro
1/2 l. white wine = 4.50 Euro

As you see, the prices are relatively high, but not too high. I would say that the kokoretsi looks too expensive for what it is, even though the dish was good.

If I were told to pay what I would think it worth, I would have paid 45 Euro. For the same question, GH said he would have paid 40-45.

The reality, however, that I paid only 35 Euro because I had a discount card which entitled me to pay only 70% of the final bill.

For this price, we will certainly return. It is an example that research helps a lot to get a good food for affordable price.

Thalassinos / Θαλασσινός
Lysikratous 32, Tzitzifies (Kallithea).
Athens
Tel. 210-9404518
(Λυσικράτους 32, Τζιτζιφιές)


30 March, 2012

Coffee Deflation

There are still many cafeterias in Athens that are offering a cappuccino for 4.50 euro and more, here is Gregoris here is a clear sign of deflation. It started as a temporary offer and now it is permanent. A small cup of cappuccino is now one euro, down from 1.80!
It is unavoidable phenomenon and for me who lived the same in Japan for several years it is not a good sign unfortunately.

25 March, 2012

Haagen Dazs @ Glyfada

Haagen Dazs

Coffee at Haagen Dazs in Glyfada.

It is a fine day and many people are out to absorb the sunshine.

The cafe bar called Living in front of us is attracting lots of young people. Why there are more people at certain cafeterias and not at similar other places is a big mystery to me.

Haagen Dazs is not attracting much. It is offering 30% discount from a daily selection of dessert which today is apple pie. Though tempted, we are too full to eat dessert after lunch. Anyway, considering Flocafe offers free coffee for a dessert, it is still expensive.

24 March, 2012

Aigaio @ Elefsina

I have already told you that we had been to Elefsina (Eleusis) (and I think I also told you also not to go to Ramnous on weekends as the site is closed due to labour dispute; REMEMBER if you are an amateur archaeologist).

Here are some more photos from Elefsina.

Entrance to the archaeological site was free, as it was a Sunday in March. There was a group of Russian women visiting it with a guide. I guessed it was a sort of KAPI excursion of Russian community in Athens.

Elefsina

I have to update Eleusis section of Gate to Greece with new photos.

And the lunch!

At the moment we finished the visit, GH was very hungry and wanted to settle on somewhere near. I used my smartphone to locate one and went.

Aigaio

Aigaio

It is a small fish taverna very close to the archaeological site.

The menu is short with usual items of Greek psarotavernes. We ordered some humble dishes.

Here are red wine, bread, salad and taramosalata.



The salad I think was called DIAFORI, with cabbage, celery, red pepper, parsley, and cauliflower, all marinated in salt-vinegar dressing so that they are like pickled. Nice.

Taramosalata, which was slightly green due to the presence of parsley, was one of the best I have eaten (although I have to admit that I do not eat taramosalata at restaurants often). Not too salty and not too oily.

I liked the wine. I think I prefer cheap new wine than the barreled and matured ones.

Fried calamari were very good. Sweet and succulent. I ate fried calamari recently at the taverna Tripodos in Plaka and I can tell you that there was no comparison.



I ordered also grilled sardines.



Also delicious. Mmmmmm.

We had also fried potatoes (which were very average) and the bill came to less than 30 Euro (28, if I remember well).

Of course it is not a destination restaurant, but if we happen to be in Elefsina, we will be happy to go back.

Aigaio
Aischylou 3, Elefsina

After the lunch, we walked toward the port to digest and have a cup of coffee. We stopped at a cafeteria called Friends.



It was a very nice Sunday afternoon.

23 March, 2012

Vosporos @ Mikrolimano

Went to Vosporos restaurant in Mikrolimano with a friend.

It was for me the first experience of web voucher deal. The friend. Bought a coupon for 2 full meals inclusive of drinks costing 30 euro. We could order bread, 1 salad, 1 cold appetizer, 1 hot appetizer, 2 main dishes, 2 glasses of wines or beer or soft drink. Tap water was brought to us without request.

It was not free choice from the normal menu, but from a shot
Enter one for the deal. The choice of salads and appetizers was somehow limited but for the main dishes there were about 10.

At the end they brought us a informal receipt showing that about 40% of the charge was discounted. In theory we paid 30 euros instead of 50. We had an impression that some of the prices are fictitious, but arrived at conclusion that 30 euro was still a decent deal.

I noticed that many other tables are the guests with various deals. As far as this restaurant goes, it seemed to be a good idea to fill the empty tables on weekdays.

18 March, 2012

Elefsina revisited

Today we revisited Elefsina after 9 years.

Actually I wanted to visit Ramnous for the first time but my prudent phone discovered that the site is closed on Saturdays and Sundays because of the labour controversy of the guardians. I had heard that an agreement was reached with the state, but evidently it was not for all he sites.

Anyway the man on the phone told me I should protest to the Eforia (I am not sure how to translate it, but it is the office that manages the sites and museums), which you bet I will not.

In Eleusis, the archaeological site and museum were as I remembered from 9 years ago, but the town of Elefsina was more beautiful than in my memory. There are now many nice restaurants and cafeterias. I guess there are many shops as well, but it is difficult to perceive that on Sundays.

The nostalgic Greeks might say that in the drachma era it was easier to live than now, but to my eyes it is difficult to deny that the Greece has gotten richer from the material point of view since the introduction of Euro. Of course the life is more complex than it wants to be and the more money did not make the life easier, because it brought new expectations and by consequence also disappointments.

Anyway, we will be visiting Elefsina if it manages to be beautiful as it is now.

Midnight Dinner @ Ouzou Melathron

[UPDATE 17 Nov. 2012] The place closed for the summer 2012 promising to come back in autumn, but has never reopened at least until now.


After a concert at Filologikos Syllogos Parnassos, we ended up in searching for a restaurant at 11 in the night at the central Athens last Saturday.

Many shops of central Athens are catered for office/after office population that they close early Saturday afternoon. We could not find anything attractive east side of Monastiraki and, after a half-an-hour search, we settled on Ouzou Melathron in Thissio side of Monastiraki.

We visited this mezedopoleio in March last year.

While many restaurants are empty, Ouzou Melathron was doing pretty well, 70-80% of the tables being occupied. (In this area, besides Ouzou Melathron, also Diodos, Dia Tafta, and Meandros were doing better than the rest and probably it was not casual).

It was too cold to eat outside, so only the indoor tables were available.

The interior was "retro" style.



The menu was printed on a very long and large piece of paper and the handling was awkward. Moreover, most of the dishes are the restaurant's original and the description is humoristic, which makes the consultation frustrating for a hungry customer. But, if you are not that hungry, it would be a fun to read it through.

We ordered 4 dishes.

A salad.



Rocket, manouri cheese, sun-dried tomato, balsamic vinegar dressing, and sliced kourouri (dry-ish bread that the Greeks eat for breakfast or morning snack)! The kourouri was used as a variation of courtons or paksimadia (Greek dried bread) and I found it a good idea.

Tzatziki.



Although most of the dishes here were with some twist, this was a classic tzatziki. Good.

Then main dishes.

Seeing this you would expect that there is meat sauce inside the aubergine, but no. There was stew of small cubed veal and baked with cheese on top. Very nice, though a bit expensive (10.89 Euro).



In the photo, the aubergine looks small, but actually very large. It is this slice of big tomato which plays trick on our eyes.

As I wanted something starchy, I chose something called "Magiko (Magical)".



From the description in the menu, I was not totally sure what to expect but was very satisfied with what was offered. It is a sort of crepe-pie with cheese (feta, yellow cheese, blue cheese and maybe others) and mushroom filling. It was plated on a cash iron pan so that it did not get cold easily.

At the end, we were treated with yogurt with sour cherry compote (glyko tou koutaliou).



With a bottle of water and a bottle of coke, the bill came to 35 Euro circa. Not cheap, but for what we ate, we were happy to pay it.

Will go back with pleasure.

Ouzou Melathron
Agiou Filippou 10 & Astiggos
Monastiraki-Thissio
Athens
Tel. 210 3241 716

11 March, 2012

2 Musical Weekends

I am not a musical person and a less-than-average music listener, while GH likes to go to concerts. He is not much of a music listener, but he seems to like the musical environment.

So, last Saturday we went to Dipla Sto Potami (here) to hear Glykeria.



Greek concerts start VERY late, this one at 10:30 (the actual start was about 11:00). Not wanting to spend much, we just bought 2 tickets at bar (15 Euro incl. 1 drink). If you wanted a table, you would have paid at least 65 Euro for 2 with a bottle of wine. A bottle of whisky was, if I remember well, 90 Euro or 95, but I don't know how many people could share it.

Anyway, we were on foot all the way through, as the bar ticket did not entitle us to any chair.




This is my drink "Cuba Libre" which looked unusually light-coloured. As I do not drink much, I gave most of it to GH.




I like the songs of Glykeria, but the concert did not enthuse me much. I can enjoy as much with her CD.

It finished earlier than I expected, at 2:00 o'clock. The last one I went, one of Portokaloglou, finished at 3:30 and the other one GH went, of Mitropanos, finished at 4:00. So Glykeria's was relatively "short".

And I was annoyed very much by cigarette smoke. Next day, I had to leave outdoor my coat so that the smell went away, without total success.

*********************

And next.

Yesterday, we went to a concert of Luisa Rocha, a fado singer, at Filologikos Syllogos Parnasos.



This is much more normal concert. A ticket was 10 or 15 Euro (for 15, you get a seat closer to the stage) and you get a chair for that. It started at 8:30 and finished 10:00.



It was quite enjoyable for me, while GH, who likes "Glenti" (a Greek word I cannot really translate), enjoyed it to a certain degree. I mean, he enjoyed the music, but was missing something.

Anyway, it was great experience both of them.



New York Cheese Cake @ Cake

Last Saturday we stopped at a new cake shop called Cake in central Piraeus. As it is a small chain/franchise, you might have seen it somewhere else.

Many of the cakes are sold by kilo and not by piece. Although there were some other interesting ones, my ever conservative husband chose a cheese cake. And, as always, we shared one cake between two.

New York Cheese Cake

It was called New York Cheese Cake with Sour-Cherry Sauce. I do not know what is this "New York" about, although I see this qualificative often before cheese cake. Anyway, it was a non-baked type cheese cake.



It was very cream-cheesy and fatty. The cream part was nice, but personally I did not like the biscuit part as it had a strange aroma (from a spice?).



It was so fatty that, although we were sharing it, we started to feel "oh, that is enough" at the end.

The price for the cake was whipping 6.50 Euro. Restaurant dessert price.



But to compensate it, the cappuccino was only 2.50 Euro. By consequence, the total bill was reasonable 11.50 Euro.

I find often disappointing these "Western" cakes in Greece, but this cheese cake gave me a hope. I would return to try other offers.

Cake
Karaiskou 98, Piraeus
Tel. 210 4225 707

And other places like...
Kolonaki: Irodotou 15
Ermou: Fokionos 2-4
Halandri: Likourgou 2 & L. Kifisias
Nea Smyrni: 2as Maiou 22, Pl. Smyrnis
Glyfada: Lazaraki 20
Voula: Vas. Pavlou 67
http://www.cake.gr/



04 March, 2012

Flocafe @ Marina Zeas

I am at Flocafe in Marina Zeas, Piraeus for coffee with family and friend.

Coffees at Marina Zeas are of the most expensive in Athens/ Piraeus. A cappuccino is 4.40 euro, filter coffee the same (but bigger portion).

Really I should stop coming to expensive cafeterias.

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