On a Sunday afternoon of March 2009, two of us visited this small taverna in Psirri for a quick lunch.
We had a vague idea of eating in Psirri, but did not know exactly in which restaurant. To tell you the truth, we did not see great variety of restaurants open for Sunday lunch. Walking around searching somewhere interesting, we stepped out of the more frequented area and were suddenly encountered by a row between two seemingly drunken guys and a group of policemen. We hurried back to the safer area and entered the first place that seemed to be serving food: it turned out to be Nikitas, but at the moment we entered, we did not even know the name.
It seemed to be an old style family taverna and the pleasant 'waitress' whom we first spoke to looked like one of the owners. She told us to seat wherever we wanted and gave us menu, which was surprisingly short by modern standard. Although it was the Lenten fasting season, the orthodox-fasting friendly items were very few. Although we avoided meat, made an exception for cheese.
The dishes arrived in a matter of minutes, if not seconds. We were alarmed by the velocity, but, as it is usual for Greek traditional tavernas to keep already cooked food - except for grilled items that should be cooked on order - in large containers, we needed not to be. Forgot to tell you that founded in 1967 Nikitas is one of the older tavernas in Psirri area where so many new restaurants and cafés have opened and are still opening in recent years.
There were four "dishes of the day (piata imeras)" and this was one of them: soupies me spanaki (cuttlefish and spinach). It is a fasting period favorite in Greece.
For €6, the ratio of cuttlefish and the portion itself were rather small, but the dish itself tasted all right and the sea creature was very soft.
This is a piece of oven baked cheese pie, €4.50.
We actually wanted to order cheese croquettes, but it wasn't available and the said 'waitress' recommended this to us instead. We were glad that we obeyed. It was fluffy, gooey and full of milky flavour, but wasn't either too oily or too salty (which happens often due to overdose of feta cheese). Listening to the conversation of the regulars around us, we figured that this was indeed one of the specialties.
This pale green paste is tyrokafteri, €3.
It was pale green simply because it contained chopped Greek pale green chili. It should be freshly made. I hate the modern tyrokafteri made with mayonnaise, but this one wasn't and made me happy.
It wasn't exactly a warm day and I did not fancy salad. In these circumstances, the boiled green leaves, horta, is the best choice. It was just €2.50. Nice.
We were given bread, but to supplement carbohydrate intake, we ordered also a portion of chips, € 1.70. Chips are very simple things to cook, but also very difficult to cook WELL. Nikitas' chips were crispy on the outside, soft and fluffy in the inside, and easily passed the test.
With a bottle of coke (€1.60) and free water (this was for me the first taverna in Athens that did not try to sell me water), the total bill came to €20.30. We both concluded it was reasonable.
The food was not inventive or imaginative, but well cooked from good ingredients. Besides, it is nice to eat al fresco in the hart of Athens. We wished if only it was warmer.
(Note that this place closes at 6 or 7 o'clock in the evening).
Psitopoleio O Nikitas
Ag. Anargyron 19, Psirri, Athens
We returned in September 2009, this time to try some meat.
This is grilled pork chop (hirino brizola). Juicy and with smokey flavour particular to grilling. Very good. Side was to choose from rice and chips. €6.50.
This is Hirino Lemonato, or pork stewed in lemon juice.
The pork wasn't bad, but had a rather unpleasant sort of porky smell. Rice was even worse; it smelled really bad. We should have chosen fried potato only. Cost €6.
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