Last Friday night I got a call from my girlfriend to go out in one of our favourite areas of Athens, Petralona. It is an up and coming area, full of wonderful and cheap taverns with quality food. I left work and set off on foot to make my way to Petralona via the gorgeous walk from Thissio. We sat and had a glass of wine for a pit stop, where we were joined by another friend. We sat in a newly opened bar set in a neoclassical building with a yard called Mr. Xou-but that is another story all together.
With our appetites ready and too many food options available, we decided to depart and walk around until we saw something that would entice us. We stopped outside a tavern with red painted walls, small street tables and an amazing smell creeping out. With a unanimous vote we walked in and sat down taking in our surroundings. The tavern was actually the entrance or ground floor of a gorgeous old town house and had retained much of its old Athens glamour.
The tavern actually turned out to be a tsipouradiko-(more of a meze/drink tavern) with slightly larger portions. We ordered an oven cooked chicken with a mustard sauce, ‘keftedes’ or meat balls with a yoghurt and dill dip along with grilled Haloumi with sprinkled basil. Just for the sake of being healthy we also ordered a salad with spinach, rocket, sun dried tomatoes and grilled Mastelo cheese and topped all this off with a half litre of house wine. Each plate was more delicious than the other (with the exception of the meat balls slightly over cooked-the taste was still there). The mustard sauce from the chicken was perfect for dipping your warm bread in and the salad was a nice balance with our other choices. Mastelo cheese can be hard to grill as many cook it too little or too much, but this was just slightly browned, warm and melted in the mouth.
As the night went on, the wine kept coming and we ordered another dish – one of my favourites (that I order everywhere I go) – eggplant baked in the oven with feta and tomato. The tavern became quite busy and with only 2 waitresses, the service became a bit slower, as it does in most traditional taverns. Even so, as long as there is wine in my glass I never complain and between 3 of us we drank 2 litres (or more?!). Overall, the music was Greek, the flavours were of great quality/price (came out to 10 euros a person) and I felt I had truly stepped into a Greek experience that many tourists never see.