25 May, 2014

Miscellaneous notes

I have not been posting, because I have not eaten anything worth writing about these days.

Last Sunday, we lunched at Pita Pan near Divani Caravel Hotel, because we needed to ear in a hurry. This is a "portion (merida)" of chicken skewers. It might look fine, but tasted industrially processed-food. Edible, but there is nothing really to say.

The location, however, is rather pleasant. It has tables on a pedestrian walk by a small park.

The reason why we found ourselves there was to visit the Byzantine and Christian Museum.

Last Sunday was International Museum Day and all the museums offered free-entry. I had visited this museum twice, but it was many years ago and I can gladly tell you that there has been much development. When I first visited it 15 years ago, the exhibits were housed only in one small building. At the second time, the new wing was open, but only the ground floor. Now the whole underground level is open to hold hundreds of artifacts to illustrate (mainly religious) life of Early Christian, Byzantine, Mediaeval, and Modern Greek world. It is a splendid museum.

And Friday, we went to 25araki in Glyfada, this time with a discount coupon. The food was delicious and very cheap, but as I have written about this place twice and last time was just this December 2013, I am not writing again.

Ah, I just want to note that we saw a new Indian restaurant in Zisimopoulou Street (Glyfada).
I think (I might be wrong) that this is the first Indian restaurant in Glyfada since Jaipur Palace Glyfada was closed down.

Let's see what I am going to find Sunday today.

Views from Keratsini

Today we went to Keratsini for a coffee.

Foursquare turned out to be very useful again. :)

17 May, 2014

Sardela @ Korydallos

By some turn of events, we found ourselves in Korydallos last Sunday afternoon and needed to eat in 1 hour. Not having time to look for places in my very long "restaurants to visit" list, we entered one which we found by chance.

So much under a pressure to find a place quickly, we did not even realize that it was a fish restaurant until we sat down and read the name of restaurant, Sardela.

It is virtually on the Freedom (Eleftheria) Square, but you don't really feel it, because currently all the square is enclosed by metal wall due to the metro construction work.

I had an impression that they had cheap set menu of 12 Euro p.p. or so, but we ordered a la carte.

The menu mostly consists of psaromezedes (fish/seafood mezedes) and main dishes. I do not remember to have seen any meat.

Before we order, the head waitress came to us with a large tray with cold mezedes, like salt cured fish, marinated fish/seafood, potato salad, or dips. We picked up mavromatika (black eyed beans) and melitzanosalata.

This melitzanosalata was pretty good. I do not like the one with mayonnaise and this was without.

Bread came warm, if not the grilled bread with olive oil and oregano often served in fish tavernas in Greece.

Except for the cold mezedes, we ordered only 2 dishes. One was fried potatoes for GH. They were bit oily, but fresh and tasty.

And octopus stifado, which is octopus stewed with small onions and, I think, vinegar and white wine. Very good. Went well with fried potatoes.

At the end, we were offered chocolate mousse or 'submarine' (I don't know how to explain it; it is a sweet made of sugar and sticky consistency; it is often served on spoon sticked in a glass of water, hence the name), and we chose the former. I thought it was an instant sort, but, as it was free, no complaint.

With a bottle of beer and a bottled water (they just brought it on the table), the bill came to 25.10 Euro. Normally, you would order 1 or 2 dishes more, but it is still reasonable. It is not a destination restaurant, but if we happen to be in the area, we might well come back.

Sardela- Σαρδέλα
Taxiarchon 24, Korydallos, Athens
Ταξιαρχών 24, Κορυδαλλός, Αθήνα
Tel. 211 4111773

Before Korydallos, we were in Egaleo mountain visiting the botanical garden. It is a nice place to visit, if you want feel the nature without travelling far from Athens.

Some Developments in Central Athens

Miscellaneous photos from central Athens.

The ex-Gasoline of Piraeus Street, Gazi, has reopened as Gazoo Cafe, with only small changes.

And this is a shop at the start of Persefonis Street in Gazi, almost next to the Gazoo Cafe. It used to be occupied by cafeteria-cake shop, but has been closed for a while. But again, there is a sign of life now.

Peinirli from Stamatis on Akademias street, not far from Omonia Square. It specialises in Peinirli, which is made from the dough in the premises. I tried twice and can say that I love it as a snack. Price is between 2 and 3 Euros approximately, depending on the topping.

Stamatis - Σταμάτης
Akademias 77, Exarchia, Athens
Tel. 210 3300055

Next to the well known Furin Kazan Japanese restaurant in Apollonos Street, Syntagma, East Pearl Chinese Restaurant has opened. It is a shop used to be occupied by Golden Chopsticks.

On the other hand, there are some indications that East Pearl in Piraeus is closed. I have to go and check it.

10 May, 2014

Exploring Keratsini

Yesterday (Friday) night, we went to explore Keratsini. Although it is an area adjacent to Piraeus, we have rarely been there except for passing through it to go to Peloponnesos.

For the occasion, I bought a discount coupon which include 1 salad, 2 starters, seafood spaghetti for 2 persons, drink and dessert for 20 Euro.

I am not going to discuss about the restaurant itself for various reasons, one of them being that the coupon meal does not always give justice to the quality of restaurant. Seafood spaghetti was good, though.

What impressed us was that how deserted all the restaurants in the area were. We went to a street called Digeni Akrita where there is a concentration of 5 or 6 eateries, some of them even well-known. Even it was a Friday night, they were either totally empty or only a couple of tables occupied. As we stayed there well into 11 o'clock, I don't think we missed any late diners.

Some of these places, including the one we went to, were supposed to have live music in Friday evenings, but we did not see anything like that in any of them.

What was that? Since when Friday evenings became so quiet? Or, did it just happen to be so yesterday?

We need to return there to see it again.

06 May, 2014

Thalassaki @ Piraeus

On 4th May, we went to run 5 KM at Athens Half-Marathon event. There was an organizational disaster, but I made a good record.

When we returned home, however, I did not feel like cooking (and the weather was too fine to remain at home), so we went down to Peiraiki for lunch.

It was almost 4 o'clock, but most of the places were still full, or at least very busy. As To Akri and Vrahia tis Piraikis did not seem to have table, we decided to try a new place called Thalassaki about which I have read several good reviews.

It was also very busy, but being very large, there were some tables.

Luckly, we managed to get a table with view.

The menu is average- long, and has both fish and meat to cover the ground.

The bread was brought to us immediately. To our disappointment, it was totally cold, as if it had been grilled some time ago.

And to start, we ordered these things called Sfouggata Kuthnou. They were described as tyrokroketes (cheese croquettes), but tasted quite different from usual tyrokroketes. They were made with white cheese, but gooey as as well. Very good and interesting. 4 Euro.

Horta (boiled green leaves) tasted fresh, but the dish was kind of watery. 3.50 Euro.

The fries were, as you see, a bit burnt and naturally they had a distinct bitter taste. 2.50 Euro.

The fried calamari did not say much; oily and little flavor. The price tag of 6.50 Euro might seems cheap to you, but I inform you that currently the normal price for fried calamari in Piraiki is 5 Euro.

Mussels Saganaki (7 Euro) came plenty, but it is just a heap of cheap frozen mussels. The sauce was fine, but the shellfish was tough and not pleasant.

The free dessert was a Ravani-like cake with yogurt and strawberry. Better than usual semolina halvas at fish tavernas.

The total bill came to 26.40 Euro including a bottle beer. By no means it is expensive in absolute terms, but the food being so disappointing, we did not feel happy to pay even that much.

In environment wise Thalassaki is better than other fish taverns in Piraiki, but it stops there. As I am more interested in food than in environment, I prefer to go to other places.

Thalassaki - Θαλασσακι
Akti Themistokleous 310, Piraeus
Ακτή Θεμιστοκλέους 310, Πειραιάς
Tel. 210 4181616

03 May, 2014

Mikri Venetia @ Koukaki

Visited this modern taverna on the 1st May, a national holiday in Greece. Apart from its status as Labor day, it is also a pagan-ish festive day to celebrate the spring. People go out and collect flowers to make wreath. Even if they do not make wreath, people go out to feel the spring, as far as the weather is fine. And this 1 May was very fine indeed and there are lots of people everywhere.

On such a day, the problem is to find a place to eat. As we were walking around Acropolis, I dragged GH up to Fix where a restaurant called Mikri Venetia had caught my attention.

Being an "in" place, it was full, but luckily we could still find a couple of free tables inside, while tables outside were all taken. At this point I would like to mention that Mikri Venetia on a pedestrian street (a rare thing in Athens) and many tables were al fresco in fine weather.

The indoor space is very simple and with little decoration. But this little decoration makes a good presence and well creates the ambiance.

There is nothing that reminded Mikri Venetia of Mykonos. There were some odd masks that are like the ones used in the Carnival of Venetia, but allusion to Venice stops there. I believe that I heard that the owner was called Venetia and maybe she is the origin of the name.

The overwhelming majority of the clientele were young , younger than 40 I would say. It is not limited to this restaurant, but many who were hanging around the bars and restaurants in the area were young.

The menu is neither long nor short and there is an adequate number of items for the restaurant of this size. The type of the food is modern Greek, I guess.

We ordered 5 items, because the portion size did not look so big.

Here are green salad (5.50 Euro) and kaltsounia (4.50 Euro). The salad was lettuce based mix and grated mizithra on top. The kaltsounia were described as Cretan small pies filled with white cheese and green. I liked the salad, but not so much the pies which were oily and boring.

This is something I had to order when I saw it on Today's dishes: Reggosalata (4.50 Euro). It is a paste made from smoked fish called regga and, although I have heard about it many times, I have never actually seen it or eaten it. I think it was made from, apart from the fish, bread and olive oil. As I generally like cured fish, I liked it. I wish I had boiled potatoes to eat with.

And "patatoules" (2.80 Euro). When you say patatoules in Greece, it normally refers to fried potatoes. In Mikri Venetia, they were boiled small potatoes tossed in olive oil and seasoned with sea salt. They do not look much, but were quite delicious, potatoes being very sweet and flavorsome. Cheap as well.

After a very long break, our main dish arrived: chicken fillet in cheese sauce served with mashed potatoes (7.80 Euro). They should have season the chicken better before cooking it, but overall it was hearty and tasty dish.

At the end they offered us a dessert (this is for 4 persons, as 2 other friends had arrived by then).

With a glass of beer, the bill came to slightly less than 30 Euro.

The speed and organization of the service was quite terrible, but I discount it, because, frankly, it was expected; wherever we went, it would have been the same. More importantly I was not impressed by the food. It was good, but not to the degree that I want to try it again and again. It worth trying it, though; you might well like it.

Mikri Venetia - Μικρή Βενετία
G. Olympiou 15, Koukaki, Athens
Πεζόδρομος Γ. Ολυμπίου 15, Κουκάκι, Αθήνα
Tel. 213 0259158 & 6948044254

01 May, 2014

Dafni @ Peristeri

One Sunday afternoon, the weather not being fine and us not knowing what to do, we went to explore one area of Athens where we have never been to: Peristeri.

Peristeri is used to be one of these unreachable areas in periphery of Athens, but now it has a Metro station and very much accessible. The same line (No. 3) should come down up to Piraeus at some point in future. This time we took our car and found it surprisingly "close" using the National Road (highway without toll inside Athens). We did not measure the time, but felt like it took 15 to 20 min. To go to Korydallos, which is closer in distance, it takes more time for us. It was easy to park, too.

After having walked around Bournazi area, we looked for somewhere to eat. I used Foursquare and decided on a taverna called Dafni.

When we arrived the place, we were told that all the tables were taken and it was for smokers (yes, it is illegal, but you know...). We were instead sent to the place just next it called Dafnoula, which is non-smoking and shares the same kitchen. Even here almost all the tables were either taken or reserved, but fortunately we were assigned one of the 2 tables available (you see lots of tables outside, but it was too chilly to be seated on that day).

The interior was retro-style and pretty cozy. We liked it. It looks like empty, but all the tables have "reserved" cards on.

The menu is relatively long. It contains starters, salads, cheeses, main courses, and extra dishes of the day. I don't remember to have seen any fish/seafood. If there were, there were only a few. The prices are relatively high. Probably 20% or so higher than you would expect. Prices of the salads looked particularly exorbitant, a half of them cost more than 10 Euros.

On the menu they show the prices before and after the VAT decrease and the funny thing is that many of them have exactly the same figures as before, or are not the whole decreased amount less (although the VAT decreased from 23% to 13%). What point they are trying to make, you think?

I would have ordered only 1 starter and 2 mains, but as always, GH went compulsive and decided that he would die of hunger if he did not order 4 dishes. So here we go.

These are the nibbles that came with bread basket. They charge 1.90 Euro per person for bread and cover, by the way.

As most of the salads looked to expensive, I picked a humble Greek salad (7.30 Euro). I did not like so much the creamy feta on top, but it was a matter of taste and generally tasted all right.

Tzatziki was GH's order (3.80 Euro). Again it was a creamy sort and gentle in flavor (little garlic and little salt).

Both of our main courses are from dishes of the day. Here is chicken breast in coconut curry sauce served with aromatic basmati rice (9 Euro).

I found the chicken was too dry and the sauce was too sweet. I would called it an un-successful attempt at a modern twist, which happens often in Greece. My impression is that in general the Greek cooks are not very good at adding exotic or modern touch to their cooking; many turn out to be amateurish.

The other main dish, oven baked goat and askolybros (name of the vegetable), 12 Euro, was much more successful.

It was a bit under-salted, but the wild flavor of the green was awesome. The portion was big, too.

At the end, they offered a dessert. Evidently they had several variety of desserts (I saw them on other tables), but we got only 1 because GH said he could not eat any more.

With a bottle of beer, the final bill came to 39.30 Euro, which is expensive but not extraordinarily so. I did not became a fan of the place myself, but I understand why there are people who like it. You might want to try it, if you are in the area.

Dafni- Δάφνη
Megalou Alexandrou 86, Bournazi, Peristeri, Athens
Μεγάλου Αλεξάνδρου 86 Μπουρνάζι, Περιστέρι, Αθήνα
Tel. +30 2105773721.