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Jul 30, 2010 02:24 PM

Athens Report

We spent two nights in Athens and feel compelled to report on our experiences. First, we dined at Ta Kioupia. The meal was a fixed 50 euros per person. There was an abundance of food and it was delicious. We ate traditional food prepared in an updated manner. We couldn't finish everything even though we loved it all. The service was excellent. They would have happily brought us more food if we had room. The appetizers were a yogurt and beet salad, an updated greek salad with bread crumbs and specially marinated feta, chick peas puree, meatballs with a delicious tomato concasse, a garbanzo flour bread, eggplant salad, a modern tzatziki with sesame bread, and more. It just kept coming. The meat course included pork roast, chicken breast in wine with walnuts, perfectly grilled veal, chicken in yogurt over eggplant. Dessert came after a watermelon granita with feta cheese. Chocolate mousse and a cooked cream with caramel. Both excellent.

The second night we went to Kuzina. This has the potential to be a wonderful restaurant if you are Greek. If you are not, I suggest you stay away. Located just below the Acropolis and a lovely 15 minute walk from Constitution Square, this locale has a roof top terrace facing the Acropolis. The only problem is that the tables with a good view seem to be reserved for Greeks and tourists are sent to the back. The food is creative. Some of it worked and some of it didn't. Dumplings with cheese in a berry sauce were very good. The smoked eggplant and the fig soaked in anise and ouzo did not taste good. The problem is that no matter how good the food, they treated us very poorly. We are seasoned travelers who spend three months a year in Europe. I haven't experienced such snotty treatment since our honeymoon in Positano 18 years ago. The good tables were allegedly pre-booked even though our concierge indicated that they had reserved one of the up front tables for us. We waited half the night and one of the tables with a good view remained empty, until a party of two walked in at 11 p.m., didn't like their table, and moved to the table for 5 with a good view. This is after we asked nicely to be moved twice. The waitress was snotty, rolling her eyes at our order. We ordered appetizers and main courses for the table of five and wine also. We tried a big variety of items on the menu. There was no reason for her behavior. We can read greek and even if our pronunciation is not great, we try. There are so many restaurants in Athens, I can't see any reason for a visitor to waste a night on Kuzina.

Enjoy your visit to this remarkable city.

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  1. jslisko, just wanted to add to your report, since we just got back from a trip to Greece. Based on your review, I was a little bit dubious about going to Kuzina, but had seen it recommended in a number of places, and the group I was with wanted to eat in the area, so that was what we chose. We had a very different experience than you, so I wonder if you were there on an off night (or we on a good night), or whether the height of the tourist season has anything to do with it.

    We showed up without a reservation around 8:30pm and the restaurant was nearly empty (more trepidation!). We were offered a table inside or outside, and chose to sit out front, across the road in a section along a leafy fence. Our waiter was initially somewhat brusque, and got downright prickly when he tried to talk us into a more expensive bottle of wine and we refused. But he seemed to relax later (after we ordered a second bottle), and by the end of the meal he was all smiles. The girl who served the wine and brought out the food was very nice and interacted with us pleasantly.

    We enjoyed the meal quite a bit. The marinated octopus starter was outstanding, and the salmon tartare a little less well-executed. The mains were all excellent—roasted pork was a standout. Even though we declined the bread and olives, they brought it anyway, and I forgot to look and see if they charged for it. All in all, it was a nice experience and a very good value, given the quality of the food and compared to taverna prices on the same street.

    2 Replies
    1. re: gemuse

      Just my all has to do with the timing and the number of tourists: summer vs fall

      1. re: ParisLady

        Absolutely. Different staff and different times can make all the difference. Just wanted to offer another experience in case others were weighing whether to try this place or not.

    2. I just got back from Kuzina and had very cheerful service albeit I was there at 7pm which I understand is very early for dinner by greek standards.

      My family and I really enjoyed the food and it was a fantastic example of how traditional greek/mediterranean flavours can be transformed with some creativity and modern flavours. The dumplng and the tart starters were well done and the mains were excellent as well. They even incorporated some non-Greek flavours such as a wasabi mash with the short ribs and even the truffle parpadelle, something that is so quintessentially Italian, was beautiful. Slow cooked pork was also a true delight.

      Though not by any means a cheap place to eat, it was a good experience and would recommend it to anyone looking for something a bit more modern.