Our first restaurant in Athens was near our hotel 18 Micron Str., located slightly northwest of Monastiraki Square, but more about that later. This trip we are eating modestly and trying to taste a wide variety of classic Greek dishes. On our first night we ambled around the corner and were accosted by a waiter eager to gain our patronage, as is the custom. We declined the invitation but took a menu and checked out other establishments for 30 minutes before returning.
Since more vegetables are on my radar for desirable foods to select, so Santorini fava made the cut. They were not green,
as I had expected, but very pale. The color did not affect the familiar pungent taste. The pureed fava was topped with marinated red onion, oregano and parsley. It was good although the portion may have better suited a table of 4, so it was generous. I made an effort to eat it as it was intended, with a squirt of lemon, but preferred the beans without lemon. Less olive oil would have made the lemon unnecessary.
My entree was the rustic sausage that came with French fries. Again there was oregano or perhaps marjoram used to flavor the meat, along with paprika. They were flavorful and distinctly unlike other sausages I have tried during my travels to other European countries.
We tried a Greek beer named Mythos that had a stronger hop taste than we prefer. After dinner the waiter brought a dessert that I cannot identify with any certainty. My best guess was that it was made with course grained semolina, sugar, and cinnamon.
The following evening we stayed even closer to the hotel by eating across the street at Oineas, a bright, airy place with sage green furniture, advertising art trays, posters and product containers displayed everywhere.
The 75 year old owner had been collecting product containers, posters, metal advertising signs and ad art, since he was a teenager.
Even the bathroom area was cluttered with advertising posters for cosmetic products, as well as tins and bottles.
The food was classic yet distinctive, like the decor. Classic Greek recipes were tweaked into versions appealing to modern palates.
The bread was good on its own, but even better with the black olive tepanade that was served alongside it.
Fix, another Greek beer was on offer, so we tried it and had several more during the trip. Our first course consisted of mussels in a lemon grass infused broth. Great idea.
My man about town ordered the pork fillet covered in a mixed mushroom port sauce, then topped with thinly sliced and fried onion rings. Our conversation ground to a halt the minute he took a bite, so we can safely surmise that it was delectable.
On our return to Athens, after 4 nights on the Peloponnesian Peninsula, we came back to Oineas.We started the feast with scampi and what I believed to be an eggplant sauce. It was so good we slathered the leftover portion onto bread.
My husband ordered the veal chop and was similarly satisfied with his choice.He received a perfectly cooked medium rare chop. We were recognized by several waiters and the owner as being returning customers. They rewarded us with a complimentary dessert of house made cheesecake with mango and chocolate sauce.
Right alongside the ancient Agora near its museum, there are many restaurants that, as you might expect, are geared to providing tourists with quick meals. We stopped by Antica because we were more interested in a rest than food, and requested one Greek salad and 2 forks.
With a lifelong avoidance of feta cheese, it took some culinary courage to taste this dominant ingredient, but I managed and was rewarded with a sweeter, creamier, less crumbly version of what had passed for feta the first time I tried it. I'm no longer worried that I may have to eat it again, and may actually order it intentionally.
It's embarrassing to admit to going to the next restaurant 4 times on this trip. At first it was only for a drink, then it was to try the pork gyro which was ordered by another customer and looked so good I wanted to sneak a photo of it.