26 April, 2014

Karavidas @ Porto Rafti

One Sunday in March, we went to Porto Rafti, because it was very fine and we would have felt wasted, if we had not gone anywhere.

It was the first time for us to be in Porto Rafti, so we went to explore different parts without knowing what exactly to expect. We saw some nice seaside walks, but did not find anything exciting.

We just walked around and then settled for a lunch. As the day was fine, many of the restaurants were really full. And just outside Porto Rafti we found this seafood taverna which had some empty tables. I checked reviews on web and we decided to go in.

In comparison to seafood tavernas in Piraiki where we live, the price seemed to be high. So we settled on one of these economical mfixed menus, which probably was a bad decision. The prices below are for 2 people, so they are good deals. We ordered Menu No. 4.

The restaurant is by the sea, but behind a road. It does have a view to the sea. Many tables were occupied by large-ish groups and most seemed to be families and relatives. From the way they and the staff behaved, I guessed that they were regulars.

Then food. The seasonal salad turned out to be boiled green. I do not complain, because I love horta.

Fried aubergines. The skin was quite tough and not pleasant.

Kavrosalata (crab salad) was a mixture of low quality surimi (of course I did not expect any crab meat, but they could have used better quality surimi), cucumber and mayonnaise. If they they serve this for economical menus, I should not be complaining, but I suspect they sell the same thing for full price.

Then there was long waiting time and finally GH stopped a waiter and asked what happened to our main dishes. The waiter went to kitchen to check and it turned out that they forgot about it. In consequence, we waited about 45 minutes for these garidomakaronada (prawn spaghetti). We were not seated in a hidden corner and the waiters were kept on passing next to us; it is unacceptable that they did not notice until told.

The spaghetti was in a big portion (one dish each), but was over-boiled and the prawns were tasteless. I did not care even to finish the dish.

The bill came to 31.50 Euro in the end because of bread, water and bottle of beer. Rather disappointing meat to say the least.

Karavidas - Καραβίδας
The receipt says it is on Agia Marina Street, but the actual location is on Avrakiou Road just leaving Port Rafti behind.
Tel. (+30) 2299073809

And a hilarious shot of a swan attacking children on the beach near the restaurant.

The Grocery @ Kolonaki

In a Saturday afternoon, we walked around Kolonaki and, after a while, we decided have a lunch. Without any expectation, we stopped at this place on Skoufa Street, close to Rosebud restaurant bar.

The Grocery seemed like a cafe-bar, rather than a full-swing restaurant. 

The menu is not long, and many of the items were actually off, although there were some dishes of the day. The main dishes on the menu are mostly above 10 Euros, which means that if you order a starter and a main, your food bill should necessarily be above 15 Euro.

The bread and dip were a 'cover', i.e. an obligatory order if you don't decline explicitly.

The dip was a mixture of yogurt and herb(s). It was nice, but as we ordered something similar as a starter, it was somehow superfluous.

This is tyrokafteri with Lefkada sausage, which turned out to be similar to salami. It did not feel heat almost at all and tasted more like thick yogurt with herbs. 

These are fried triangle pies with Metsovone cheese. The yellow paste that looks like musterd is citrus marmarade. Interesting. 

The above dishes can either be starters or nibbles for your drink.

We ordered only 1 meat dish, as this intended to be a light lunch. These are kebabs with yoghrt (yaourtlou kebab). 

Not particularly impressive, but enjoyable. Again the mixture of fresh herbs was characteristic. I recognized fresh coriander which is rarely seen in Greek restaurants. (By the way, it is a mystery for me, because I often see fresh coriander in open markets). 

The total bill came to 21.20 Euro including one glass of beer. It is not a bad deal if you like this way of eating. 

Skoufa 46 & Omirou, Kolonaki, Athens
Σκουφά 46 & Ομήρου, Κολωνάκι, Αθήνα
Tel. 210 3623541

After the meal we stopped at this fresh juice stand called Loving Family, being attracted by a fresh pomegranate juice for 1.20 Euro.

In the end it did not look that cheap as the plastic cup was quite small. But fresh juice bar is not a bad idea especially in hot summer season.

Loving Family
Sina 7 & Solonos, Kolonaki, Athens
Σίνα 7 & Σολωνός, Κολωνάκι, Αθήνα

13 April, 2014

Elladikon @ Piraeus

A Saturday afternoon, we went to the centre of Piraeus to pay a bill. Afterwards we decided to have a light lunch instead of usual coffee.

This is a relatively new grill restaurant just behind Kanari Square (if the name does not ring a bell, it is the square with a clock tower in Pasalimani area, near a big Carrefour Marinopoulos Supermarket). It does souvlaki, but it is in a slightly higher rank than "souvlatzidiko". It has a nice, modern outlook which is in fashion in the recent some years.

The menu is long, but it is less because of the variety but of differentiation, as in other grill places. For example, a kebab can be served as a simple kebab, kebab in pita, as "portion - merida", or with yogurt. There are all the major players except for gyros. Yes. There is no gyros or donner.

There are also some starters and salads. If I understood well, they do not have tzatziki, which is a bit odd.

We ordered a baked potato with yogurt and taboule salad. Both fine, if not exceptional. I advise you to order starters here, because it takes some time for the main dishes to arrive.

Why? It seems they grill meat on order. In souvlatzidika, they often have meat half or fully cooked to be able to serve the clientele quickly. Souvlaki is a fast food and, especially when you take it away or are waiting for delivery, serving it quickly is important service.

Anyway, here is a portion (merida) of pork souvlaki. There are all the usual components, except for tzatziki. The white sauce in the down left corner is yogurt without any addition.

The meat was juicy and abundant. It was under-salted and I needed to add some salt at the table. This is unusual, too. If you are looking for a junk food, it might be a negative element, but it is positive if you care about your health. And I have to mention that the potatoes were fresh (i.e. not frozen potatoes).

With a glass of beer, the bill came to 18.20 Euro, which is reasonable.

And we were offered a free dessert. This is another element that distinguishes this place from usual souvlaki shops. In souvlaki places, you do not usually get free dessert. 

We would be happy to return to try other dishes.

Elladikon - Ελλαδικόν
Sotiros Dios 50, Pasalimani, Piraeus, Greece
Σωτήρος Διός 50, Πασαλιμάνι, Πειραιάς
Tel. (+30) 210 4177012

12 April, 2014

Vrachia tis Piraikis @ Piraeus

I live in an area of Piraeus where there are tens of restaurants within walking distance. Many of them are quite good and even destination restaurants for many. But because they are so close and we do not get the sense of eating out, we do not visit them as often as we should.

Vrachia tis Piraikis is one of them and of the most popular choices in the area. It is not a super excellent fish restaurant, but it offers very affordable fish/seafood and the kitchen is reliable. We have been here 3 times and we have never been disappointed.

The decor is very basic and simple. When there is sun light, you have a view to the sea, but not in the evening.

To start, we had melitzanosalata (3 Euro) and horta (my receipt says that it was stamnagathi and cost 5 Euro, but I think it was radicchio or something). Both OK.

Fried calamari were pretty good. They are frozen (not fresh), but personally I do not mind. 5 Euro.

Steamed mussels were very good and came plenty. You won't believe it cost only 6 Euro.

We had also freshly fried potatoes for 2.50 Euro (GH's order, of course) and we were stuffed.

They offered a dessert (chocolate covered walnut cake) on the house. I think they could have offered us 1 piece each, but GH was so full and he politely declined. That is why there are two forks for 1 cake in the photo.

With half a kilo of white wine (2.50), the bill came to 24 Euro.

This is not a gourmet restaurant, but it is a perfect place where you can enjoy seafood/fish without worrying how much money you have in your wallet and also for groups in which there are often someone who does not want spend much on food.

But the place is small. Especially if you come in group, from far and/or toward weekend, reservation is highly recommended. I often see people queuing up or turned down here Sunday lunch time.

TA VRAHIA TIS PIRAIKIS (Τα Βράχια της Πειραϊκής)
Akti Themistokleous 300, Piraeus
Ακτή Θεμιστοκλέους 300
Tel. 210-45.38.461

06 April, 2014

Romanian Restaurant Dorna @ Agios Eleftherios

I have a couple of good Romanian friends. So when I heard that there is a Romanian restaurant in Athens, it came to my mind to organize a meal with them there. Unfortunately something unforeseeable happened and only one friend came, but GH and I managed to explore the world of Romanian cuisine.

This happened last Sunday, lunch time.

The restaurant is on Acharnon road and it takes only a couple of minutes walk from Agios Eleftherios Station of Ilektriko (Metro No. 1). It looks pretty good from outside.

It looks good also inside, but I do not have photos. The restaurant was totally empty all through our meal (about 2 to 5 in the afternoon), even if it was Sunday. Evidently it gets busy only after the music starts at 6 o'clock.

The menu was pretty long, but our Romanian friend already had a pretty good idea what we had to eat and we followed her advice.

At the beginning the owner offered us shots of so-called Romanian plum brandy and white pieces looked like cheese. These white bits were, in fact, pieces of smoked lard. Yellow paste was mustard. These items reminded me that it is pretty cold in winter in Romania.

Our Romanian friend said we should try Romanian wine. So we ordered a bottle of semi-sweet red one. According to the friend, the Romanians drink more semi-sweet (imigriko) than dry wine. Here most of the Romanian wines cost 9.90 Euro per bottle, if I remember well (to be honest, I did not pay much attention, as I am not quite a drinker). I did not particularly like it. The owner told us that they have Romanian beers in the summer (but not now in the winter).

Bread basket contained 2 types of bread, one was usual Greek one and the other was pita like flat bread. According to our Romanian friend, the flat bread is Romanian specialty and we stack to it. It (pita) was served warm and quite good.

As starters, we had "Russian" salad (front) and aubergine salad (rear). The "Russian" salad contained meat (I thought it was chicken, but the friend said it might be beef, so I am not sure). Again according to the friend, the Romanian "Russian" salad should contain loads of green peas, but this one did not. I liked it anyway. On the other hand, the aubergine salad was mayonnaise-y and I was not fond of it, while the friend said it was good. It was a matter of taste, I suppose.

This was picked up by the friend from the starter section, but it was so filling that it should really be a main course. The white stuff is a mixture of Romanian cottage cheese and sour cream and the yellow stuff is corn meal (like Italian polenta). The other Romanian friend of mine later told me that the Romanian people typically eat this as a main course after a soup at home. I liked this cream very much. Maybe the best thing for me among all the dishes we ate there. It was simple, but good.

Here is an assorted plate of Romanian pickles that we ordered instead of salad. I generally like pickles and these were not exception, but for GH who does not like pickles in general, it wasn't exception either.

And main courses. These are Romanian cabbage rolls. Stuffing was minced meat and served with polenta and sour cream. It had a particular sour flavor and I guessed that it was because cabbage was pickled.

This is Romanian style "tigania" (so we were explained by the owner), served with polenta, grated cheese and fried egg. The meat was pork and sausage. Although it was described "tigania", the meat wasn't flash fried, but stewed.

And here is Romanian kebab "mititei", served with fries and mustard.

All the meat main dishes were tasty enough, but I had an impression that the quality of meat was somehow, I don't know how to say, "compromised"? I mean, if I were to cook the same dishes, I would have used better quality meat.

Our Romanian friend insisted that we should try desserts as well, even if we were totally full at this point.

Here is Romanian crepe with jam.

And these are Romanian donuts served with creamed white cheese and jam.

I liked better the crepes.

With a bottle of water, the total bill seemed to come to 50 and a few Euro. I say "seemed" because our Romanian friend snatched the bill and did not want to show it to us. In the end, we managed to hand her in some money, but we do not know what cost how much exactly.

In any case, we exaggerated with orders and I guess one can easily get away with 15 Euro per a head. I would want to go back to try other dishes, especially soups that the Romanian eat a lot.

Acharnon 408, Agios Eleutherios, 11143 Athens, Greece
Αχαρνών 408, Αγ. Ελευθέριος 11143, Αθήνα
Tel. (+30) 210 211 1104