Friday, June 30, 2006

Café with a view: Akropolis in Plaka, Athens

This must be one of the nicest places to kill a few hours during lunchtime in Athens. The café is called 'Akropolis' (surprise, surprise:), and it's in the old district of Plaka. I had been in that café on my first night in Athens with my friend Spyros for some questionable Greek beer (sorry!) and some mezedes ('varieties', including dolmades, tzatziki, fried calamari, meatballs, filo cheese triangles, saganaki, tomatoes, mini sausages, and limp fries).

On Monday, my first full day in Greece, I had couple of hours free time between checking out of my hotel and catching the train to Volos. And however much I would have wanted to go and visit Akropolis again (I had already been there in 2002 and 2003), the high temperature (ca 35C), intensely bright sun and heavy rucksack meant that I decided against it. Instead, I found my way back to the same café - you take the metro to Monastiraki, then walk for 5 minutes along streets packed with tiny shops towards Plaka - and enjoyed the view of Akropolis from the comfort of my table. The café was pretty much deserted at noon, as it was too late for breakfast, yet too early for lunch. I sat in the corner table, shaded by a palm tree, enjoying the mildly cooling breeze and simply read and solved sudokus for just over two hours. Bliss, and perfect way to gently get used to the heat!

The service was very friendly, promt and attentive, involving questions about my country of origin and purpose and length of the trip. When I told that I'm from Estonia, but live in Edinburgh, the proprietor, beamingly, told me he had heard good things about Tallinn, and that he had once spent a month in Glasgow. Another waiter then went on giving me an update about the Ukraine's performance at the World Cup, which left me somewhat puzzled:)

I also had my first Greek village salad - horiatiki - in this establishment. It was flavoursome and tasty, and truly the perfect & refreshing lunch in that heat. I enjoyed the ripe flavour of tomatoes, and soaked up every last drop of tangy olive oil on the plate with the bread that was provided as part of the cover. Note that the feta cheese is laid as a block on top of the salad, and not crumbled or cubed - this was the case with every Greek salad I had during my trip.

Cover € 1.00, Frappe €3.00, Ice tea € 3.00, 'varieties' € 15.00 for 2 persons, horiatiki € 6.00

Estiatorio 'Akropolis'
Plaka, Athens
Tel. 3215737


Kalyn Denny said...

I loved exploring the Plaka district when I was in Athens. I bought a wonderful little knife there which was from Portugal and I remember that it cost about $2.00 U.S. An incredible bargain and I still use it all the time. I'm still trying to remember if I saw the cheese in a block like that, but I guess it's too long ago for me to remember it, it was 7 years ago that I went there. And since I wasn't writing a food blog then, I may have been less attentive to those details! Cannot wait to see more about your trip.

amyjames said...

Ah . . . that looks lovely indeed.

I remember getting the feta cheese as a single lump rather than as lots of cubes in most of the cafes I went to last time I was in the Med.

Do you think this is to prevent it drying out in the heat? (less relevant in this climate! ;-))

Looking forwards to more details of the trip . . .

selana18 said...

I love your comments about our salad ( I am greek as the salad ).
I want only to add that the "secret"of choriataki is that feta is covered by origan and the olive oil is the last ingredient.

Iwas totaly suprised about your title "A cafe with a view " I put the same title on Friday !!!!

temppixie said...

I'm off to Athens in 3 weeks, staying there for 4 days before island hoping then back and up to Volos, then I'm not sure, I will however try the place you recommended in Athens, I'll let you know how I get on !

Anonymous said...

I remember the slice of feta and not the crumbled stuff. I also remember how the salad was room temp and the tomatoes had definitely not been in a fridge.
We were there in 1988 and I remember it so well. We stayed on Paros and at one restaurant we were taken into the kitchen and shown what there was to eat! We had rented a house near a beach and also rented a moped so we did our shopping in town. I had the best greek cookies from a little bakery. The butcher was an old man sitting outside on a chair, he didn't speak any english and we didn't speak any greek. Inside there was a big slab of meat on a table covered with a cloth that he cut us steaks from and he freshly ground beef for us as well. In restaurants I always ordered the chicken which came in some type of tomato sauce that I have yet to have in a restaurant back home.
One last thing I remember is they were having a heat wave when we arrived and the hotel we stayed in for the first night didn't have air conditioning. It was so hot we would take a cold shower in the tiny bathroom and go to bed immediately and try to fall asleep before we dried off.
So many great memories I hope to go there with our children one day.
I look forward to seeing more of your posts on Greece.

Pille said...

Kalyn - I loved Plaka district, too, but it was too hot to properly explore it:( I'm a real Nordic girl re: heat tolerance - anything over 30c kills me:)
PS I'll be posting another picture of Greek salad in my Volos post!

Amyjames - could be - or maybe it's just a fashion thing?

Selana - thank you! What a coincidence about the post title, eh!?

Temppixie - I'll try to write up my Volos (and Portaria) post asap (where to go for tsipouro & food, and what are the best beaches). Which islands are you planning to visit?

Terri - thank you for your evocative comment - I do hope you get to go back to Greece with your children soon! I had troubles sleeping, too, as all but the 2 nights on Santorini, there was either no or no good/efficient air-con in my bedrooms. I did survive, though, and already think about going back soon:)