Jimmy and the Fish
Cuisine: Fish and seafood classics
Athens Area: Piraeus, Mikrolimano, right on the water
Decor: Maritime classic, soothing view
Service: A little rough around the edges
Wine List: Good, Greek, reasonably priced
Prices: 40-55 euro a person
Address: Koumoundourou 46, Mikrolimano
Tel. 210 412 4417
Right after Easter and a week of languishing on the Island of Longevity (Ikaria) I came back to Athens still in vacation mode. I wanted to bask in the feeling of being a tourist in my adopted city, so, together with family freshly arrived from abroad, we headed to the trap of all tourists, Mikrolimano, and to an old standard bearer of sea-view cuisine, Jimmy and the Fish. This, of course, after driving past more than a few waiters with menus in their hand, out on the traffic-clogged quay, saying things like “Fis [sic] for giou]” and “kam een, ouee park.” The parking, it turns out, is a cooperative affair shared between all the restaurants along the water, since the guy who took my keys asked me which restaurant I’d be at. One thing I was glad for: we were the only “tourists” at Jimmy’s. Everyone else seemed as Greek as could be, folks who know the place, might be regulars, and come not only the view of docks and yachts but also for more than decent food in a place that’s survived the waves for nearly two decades.
Jimmy doesn’t serve up the most innovative fish cuisine in town (that’s the domain of stars like Varoulko and Milos); rather it serves up an accessible menu of greatest hits that pair well with gregarious conversation and a good bottle of Mantineia Tselepou, which is what we had with dinner. The menu is big and most of the fish offerings are frozen, but at least they are honest about it. The starters include a wide array of classics, such as marinated anchovies (gavros), sea urchin salad, seafood salad, grilled octopus, classic feta-stuffed squid and more. We tried the classic fried squid, which were fresh not frozen that day and very good—crunchy thanks to a thick batter coating and very tender within. They come served with remoulade. One non-fish thing we sampled was actually not that great, even though it’s simple enough to make: grilled pleurotus mushrooms. They had a slightly bitter aftertaste and were a little rubbery. But the grillman did a great job on the fresh sardines, butterflied and boned and served with a generous topping of slightly charred onions. I can eat that any time.
Two cooked dishes we tried were above average but far from haute: the risotto with saffron, salmon roe (brik) and langoustines was toothsome and too fluffy to be thought of as a proper risotto, more pilaf than risotto to these taste buds. The ravioli stuffed with seafood and ricotta was better and more comforting, recalling memories of fun meals in nonseaside locales like New York’s Little Italy. The portion was very generous, the filling tasty, the sauce a little too thick but not bad.
Here ended our cruise of Jimmy’s menu, without a dock stop at the panacotta, brownies, tarte tatin or crème brulee that are in the dessert section of the menu.
The service here is a little gruff, the waiters a little rough around the edges without being outright rude though, kind of like sailors on their best behavior in some exotic port of call.
Cuisine: Haute Franco-Grecque
Athens Area: 30 min. north of the city in Kifissia, accessible by train, bus, taxi
Decor: Gorgeous, stately setting inside one of the city's best museums
Service: Very good
Wine list: Excellent and international
Prices: Prix Fixe at 45 euro w/o wine (6 plates courses, change weekly)
Address: Goulandris Museum of Natural History, 100 Othonos str., Kifissia, Tel.: 2108015112