**this restaurant is now Mezed…adkio – and the food is really terrific. In the warm months the tables spill out to the now pedestrian only cobblestone street and they often have live music on the weekend.**
Just off the hustle and bustle of Ymittou street we found ourselves in one of the quietest squares in Athens. We came to the Laiko Steki, Plateia Mesologiou 5, Pagrati, Tel. 210-7250528, a great unpretentious little neighborhood restaurant, where Yannis and Panagiotis greeted us with a warm smile and a pitcher of terrific red house wine. The restaurant has tables on the square as well, weather permitting. There is nothing better than sitting under the moonlight and dining al fresco with interesting friends and interesting conversation. The menu varies from day to day, so you can ask about the specials for the day. Tonight, there were 6 of us and though we certainly ordered too much food, it was a feast that more than filled our bellies without emptying our wallets.
As is traditional in Greek tavernas, a bottemless basket of bread started our meal. Steki Laiko’s were toasted crispy slices, served warm, drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with spices. Wonderful alone, dipped in our salad’s dressing or slathered with:
Tyrokafteri (a spicy feta chese spread) one of the best I have had. The generously added allepo pepper turned the dish a pleasent shade of red, and the spread had a good amount of heat to make it interesting.
Kolokythokeftedes (zuchini fritters), great flavor, light and airy, crispy on the outside and soft and chewy on the inside without the slightest bit of grease. Again, these were terrific alone, but also with a dollap of:
Tzatziki (yogurt, cucumber and garlic spread) that we used to dress the Kolokythokeftedes. Just the right hint of garlic to go with kolokythokeftedes.
Tyroptiakia (Cheese pies). These plump triangular pitas, which looked somewhat like Indian samosas, were quite a treat from the traditional flakey filo. Wrapped in a very light, crispy thick village filo, filled with a nice portion of not too tangy cheese … to die for.
2 orders of Broiled octopus, tender juicy and plentyful (of course, our eyes were bigger than our stomachs, and here we could have shared one of the generous sized tenticles).
2 orders of Garides Saganaki (Shrimp in a thick tomato sause with feta cheese and herbs). Great big shrimp served peeled with the head on, don’t be shy, take the head off and suck the juice from the head. The shrimp are tender and cooked to perfection. 1 order would have been sufficient.
Sardela psiti (Broiled fresh sardines) a wonderful way to prepare a humble fish, oregano, olive oil and lemon.
Horiatiki salata (tomato, cucumber, onion, feta cheese, oregano and virgin olive oil) add a little salt, mix and share from the large plate in the middle. Don’t forget to dip your bread in the oil!
Loukaniko (broiled village pork sausage, served with fried cottage potatoes). Good to the last piece.
And finally, the “piece de resistence”, 1 Kilo of lamb chops, broiled over charcoal, seasoned with salt, pepper and oregano. Squeeze a generous amount of lemon. These are not your traditional lamb chops, they are simply lamb that is cut into slices and charboiled well done. Think of it as the Greek equivalent to BBQ ribs, roll up your sleeves and dig in! Greeks traditionaly cook their meat well done. If you never liked lamb, try it here. It will definetely change your mind.
Fried homemade cottage fries, cooked in olive oil, puts all other french fries to shame. Addictive.
This was accompanied by 3 kilos of wine and served alongside 3 hours of true dining pleasure.
Yannis and Panagiotis treated us to a platter of fresh fruit (apples and pears springled with cinamon and cardamon) and halva (greek style – semolina cooked in olive oil with sugar, cinamon and almonds) very moist.
The total bill came to 127 Euro.
The highlight of the evening was the square’s resident cat’s visit with our dog, Scruffy – you will read much about Scruffy and his travels, he goes everywhere we go. The cat was the picture of self assurance and definetely the boss of his territory. He came and visited, without being overbearing, and then to everyone’s surprise, Scruffy’s included, he went up to our 45 pound Border collie (about 22 kilos) and smelled his nose. Nose to nose, and then he licked Scruffy’s face. Now, admittedly, Scruffy is an incredibly well behaved dog and he is always around cats, but, I am certain that he never had the experience of being kissed by a cat! He sat and looked bewildered as the cat jumped up and sat on the ledge about 1 foot away from him for the entire meal. He did not beg and just liked our company. We, too, liked his and at the end of the meal this polite little guy enjoy a couple of sardines while Scruffy had his reward for the evening, a lamb chop.
Pagrati is just a few minutes by trolley from Syntagma, and the Square is an easy walk from the number 2 and 11 trolley stops near Imittou street. On a hot summer night, the trees keep the square cooler than the surrounding areas, making this a definate place to seek out for those looking to escape the tourist track and experience real Athens.