The Daily Diary of a Wandering Restaurateur
May 21 - The New Old Favorite in Athens
We tried several spots in the neighborhood but always seemed to come back to the Bairaktaris Taverna tucked behind the old church on Monastraki Square. The place has been run by six generations of the Bairaktaris family since it first opened in 1879 and there is a real family feeling among the staff, even though I doubt that all are relatives. We ate here three times and each time they brought us additional items "on the house" -- lamb sausage, yogurt and honey, even a carafe of wine. No other place we ate did that, joked with us as much or made us feel that our patronage was appreciated like these folks.
The street scene here is a hoot! They run two restaurants right across the street from each other, servicing the outside tables with food from the kitchen in one of them. I am told that a lot of political types frequent the place ... along with the occasional priest. The European Union Football Final will be played here the day after we leave, so the streets are full of increasingly rowdy fans. I think we are getting out of town at just the right time.
The action continues into the night. It seems like a perpetual street party. They never pressure you to leave, but once you get up, they get the table back fast! Each table is covered first with linen and then with a piece of plastic sheeting held in place with an elastic strap around the table below the top. When it is time to clear the table, the strap comes off, they grab all four corners of the plastic and pick everything at once. A new sheet of plastic and the table is ready for the next guests. It must be a nightmare in the dishroom but it sure works on the street!
© 2007 Restaurant Doctor