28 October, 2013

Plastira Lake

GH and I are in Lake Plastira region.

The lake is in Thessaly and not very far from Meteora. It is an artificial lake to irrigate the fertile Thessalian plain, but the scenery is so beautiful that it looks totally natural. This photo is not so beautiful (I am not sure why but my iPhone make some photos reddish), but believe me the area really is.
The lake might not be much known to foreigners, while for Greeks it is one of the major autumn destination. There is fair number of visitors, although it is far from crowded. 
We stay here only for 2 days and tomorrow we will be back in Piraeus. I would like at least one more day to explore the area.

26 October, 2013

Belle Amie and Gazi College @ Piraeus

Having read in Athenorama that a new cafe-restaurant has recently opened in Piraeus, we paid a visit to see.

It is on Angelou Metaxa Street, but in reality it is on the Piazza Kanari, because Metaxa street is closed to cars.

The new place is called Belle Amie and it now occupies a large Neo Classic building. I hever realized there was a Neo Classic here and I do not remember what there was. There was a series of cafeterias on this street, but they were old and somehow degraded.

We were seated outside, as it was a warm day and GH always prefers al fresco, but also the indoor space is beautiful.

It took a while to come to take our order and we had to call one waitress at a certain point, although there were many serving staff.

And the waitress took our ordered made a mistake and brought a freddo "metrio" (average amount of sugar), instead of freddo with little sugar that I ordered. It was, however, promptly corrected and my coffee was replaced.

Our coffees were accompanied by 3 cookies. It is a nice gesture, but I think it is not thoughtful to serve 3 cookies to 2 persons. If they don't want to serve 4, they should serve only 2.

They did not give us a full menu, but there was this sheet on every table indicating "dishes of the day". It looked interesting, but it was too early for lunch and neither us nor other patrons were not eating anything. We will stop by one day to try something out.

A freddo cappuccino cost 3.80 Euro, which is toward the expensive end of price range in the area. It was justified because of the location.

Belle Amie
Aggelou Metaxa 11, Piraeus, Greece
Αγγ. Μεταξά 11, Πειραιάς

In the same street, also Gazi College opened. There was much bigger buzz here than at Belle Amie.

We were pleased to see that the area was invigorated.

19 October, 2013

Tamam @ Nea Filadelfia

We went to visit our friends who live in Nea Iraklio, northern suburb of Athens, one weekday afternoon. On our way back to Piraeus, we stopped at a Politiki restaurant in Nea Filadelfia where I wanted to go for a while.

Thanks to our car-navi, we arrived at the place with relative ease. What impressed us was how quiet the area was. It was only 8 o'clock or so and there were so few people walking the streets.

It was no wander that the place was empty. Delivery orders also were few, while we were there.

The place was quite large. Maybe 30 or 40 tables (I did not really count them and I can well be wrong), half outside and half outside.

The menu was long with all you expect from a politiki kebab restaurant (but no slow-cooked food).

To start with, we ordered hummus and beatroot. The large pita in the photo is their bread, freshly baked in their oven.

The hummus was nicely decorated with pickles, tomato and parsley, but I found it too sour (possibly from overdose of lemon). Beetroot with garlic (there was a choice between with and without garlic) was very average. The pita, however, was excellent. Not as good as Barba Alexis', but still good.

We ordered also a pastourmadopita, which, to our surprise, turned out to be baked in oven.

The fillings were pieces of pastourma, cheese, and tomato. We loved them. I find usual fried pastourmadopita too oily, while this one is more like pizza. It is pretty filling, though.

So it was a good decision not to order two main courses. Here is our Adana kebab.

They were quite hot. Adana kebab is supposed to be hot, but it is hotter than you would expect Adana kebab to be in Athens (Greeks do not usually eat much chili). And I found them slightly under-cooked.

By the way, GH ordered also fried potatoes, as you see in the photo. They were freshly fried and fine.

At the end, they offered us freshly baked kataifi. It was like poorer version of kunefe.

With one beer, the bill came to 26.50 Euro, which was reasonable.

To me, it was not the best Polikito restaurant in town, but we would return for oven baked pastourmadopita.

Kolokotroni 12, Nea Filadelfia, Athens
Κολοκοτρώνη 12, Νέα Φιλαδέλφεια, Αθήνα
Τηλ. 210 2318163

18 October, 2013

Eleni's Oinomageireio @ Nea Smyrni

[Update: This place appears to have been closed]

I have past in front of this place many times with tram and have always been curious. And finally a chance turned up in one Sunday afternoon. Sunday afternoon is a difficult time to find a nice and quiet place to eat, because good and cozy tavernas are normally crowded. I picked up Eleni's because it looked pretty large.

Just behind this place, there is a famous grill restaurant which was totally packed. Eleni's, on the other hand, was almost empty. I think there were only 2 other tables which were taken except for ours.

However, there was a steady stream of delivery orders and delivery guys were going in and out. I can guess that it does a pretty good business with delivery to small offices around during weekdays.

As it is a mageirio, the system is similar to Oinoberdemata where we go sometimes when we were in Gazi. You go to the food counter and see what cooked food (mageirefta) they have and decide what you eat. Just like Onoberdemata, also Eleni's have grilled meat (tis oras) besides mageirefta.

GH goes creazy when they see all these stuffs and tends to order more than we can possibly eat. But this is a mageirio; anything that you cannot finish, you can ask it to be packed and bring it home.

A beer for GH. I drank tap water from a jag that our nice waitress brought to our table.

I wanted horta, but they did not have it. So this is humble and traditional lettuce salad (romaine lettuce, spring onion and dill).

I ordered a veal stifado, which was mostly onion, but 3 big chunks of veal were OK for one person. Let's say there was generous amount of onions.

It contained whole cloves and cinnamon, and maybe vinegar. I liked it, except that it was lukewarm rather than hot.

This is something called Stuffed Potatoes. One of the two dishes GH ordered.

It is a mixture of potato, cheese, bacon and other stuff. I found it too fat and salty, but GH liked it. We brought one home, not having been able to finish it.

Here is GH's 2nd order, Papoutsaki, which can be translated in Aubergine shoe. Halved large aubergines are filled with meat sauce and baked with besamel sauce (Greek bechamel) on top.

Tasted good and very filling. On the other hand, fried potatoes tasted like stayed under heating light for some time.

At the end of meal, they offered yogurt with honey on the house.

At this point, we were full and I wished the yogurt to be less fat and dense, but now I am just complaining for nothing.

The total bill for this and a large beer came to 26.50 Euro. Although the food wasn't that exceptional, tasted right and I would say that it was good value for money. I won't call it a destination restaurant, but when I happen to be in the area and want traditional Greek food, why not?

Oinomagireio Eleni
Eleftheriou Venizelou 82, 17122 Nea Smyrni

Οινομαγειρίο Ελένη
Ελευθεριού Βενιζέλου 82, 17122 Νέα Σμύρνη
Tel. 210 9323194

12 October, 2013

Mentzelos' Slow Food @ Glyfada

Visite Mentzelos' Slow Food on a Tuesday evening. Restaurants are not expected to be busy on Tuesdays and this place wasn't an exception.

I have read good reviews about this place on web, and having find a discount coupon (20 Euro discount from 40 Euro of food purchase), I gave it a go.

This is the interior. There are some tables outside, but on that day it was too chilly to be seated al fresco.

And one wall was covered with these distinctive book shelves.

I liked how it was decorated. It reminded me of pictures of Morocco.

The problem which could not be pictured was overwhelming smell of grilling meat. It smelt like a burger joint. They need a better ventilation system.

A plate of grilled bread and a bottled of mineral water were obligatory orders. They just brought these without asking us if we wanted or not.

Bread was fine. Problem, however, is that GH does not eat brown bread. Posh restaurants should stop serving things that patrons might not like.

The menu is pretty long, and most of them are starters (mezedes). There are also pasta, salads, and grill, mainly meat (if I remember, they had king prawns and salmon). I was disappointed to find out they almost stopped serving mageirefta (slow cooked food, like stews, casseroles, etc). If I remember well, there was only one (veal with orzo pasta) as a dish of the day.

As starters, we picked up smoky melitzanosalata, which was lovely. 4.50 Euro.

Un-smashed esame seeds gave it a nice texture. Although I did not like it to combine with the grilled, olive-oiled, and salted bread provided by the restaurant, it was a quite good melitzanosalata.

On the menu they have a section dedicated to smoked food and I chose smoked feta from there. 5.50 Euro.

I liked this, too. It was a pleasant surprise to find out that smoking process changed the texture of feta.

However, GH did not like it. He thought the smell of smoke was too much. It is a matter of taste, though.

From here, things started to go not-so-well.

There are 4 or 5 salads. I wanted horta and zucchini, but was told that horta was out of season. Really? It is October and there is not horta in season?

Here is green salad.

It was OK (except for spongy radish), but it definitely wasn't worth 8 Euro.

GH ordered grilled chicken (kontosovli) marinated in Oriental spices.

I expected the "Orient" to be Middle East, but it actually was India. It was somehow like tandoori chicken. Unfortunately it wasn't enough cooked and, regardless of the spices they used, there was rather unpleasant smell of chicken carcass. 11 Euro.

I had a Angus beef burger. 12 Euro.

I ordered it to be cooked medium, but was well-done and burnt on the surface.

Here a suspicion came. Although they are heavy on grill, may be they not have good grilling-skill. If so, it is very unfortunate.

The bill came to about 50 Euro in total, for which I actually paid 30 because of the discount voucher. If I ever go back again, I would order only mezedes and drink.

Mentzelos' Slow Food
Pandoras 16,
Glyfada 16674

Πανδώρας 16,
Γλυφάδα 16674

Tel. +30 210 894 1071
Mobile: +30 693 239 3832


(At the time of writing, the menu on the web is not updated. There are much less choices and the prices are higher now.)