Sunday, June 12, 2011

Thama is Greek dialect for miracle. The miracle of sorts that Thama represents is a Greek-crisis-born trend, the arrival of which has long been overdue: the mushrooming of reasonably priced, nicely appointed neighborhood restaurants with good, decent, even interesting, food.
If you’re willing to take a metro ride to the Nomismatokopeio station, about 10  minutes from Syntagma, you might want to venture here. Thama is virtually next to the station.
There’s a bonified chef in Thama’s kitchen, and he draws much of his inspiration from the southern Peloponnese, land of citrus, olive oil, olives, and more, which happens to be the owners’ birthplace. The region’s legendary olive groves, sprouting of sheer rock in an almost lunar landscape, are what have given inspiration to the simple, pared down décor here, too. Each table is decorated with an olive branches. A few potted trees hold court in the corner. The décor is plain and the lighting maybe a tad too bright, especially for evening meals.
At Thama, despite the fact that it’s really “just” a neighborhood restaurant, the plating is artful and the flavors marks above average. One plate we liked a lot were the stuffed eggplant. Don’t imagine a drooling imam bayaldi (eggplant halves overflowing with ground meat sauce). Here, stuffed eggplant comes cut like cups and filled with chunky, shredded, aromatic braised beef. Four pieces stand tall on beautiful, long plates. A broccoli “soufflé” comes served in small, individual terrines. The vegetable’s herbaceous character comes through loud and clear. A baked potato stuffed with cheese would win the hearts of any tater fan. It is literally dripping with a variety of Greek cheeses. Zucchini fritters were a little starchy, maybe because the vegetable was out of season in early spring, when we visited, and so a little more watery than normal. Mixed with flour, this turns to gum. The flavor, redolent of mint and other herbs, was good. There is also a host of regional, s. Peloponnese dishes to try here, from the tomato omelet, kagianas, to the grilled Kalamata sausage to the babanatsa, a local barley rusk salad.
Main courses were a little less focused. I liked the veal cutlet with feta sauce, although presentation-wise it was tired (plain rice).
A chocolate tart was as thick as fudge and came served with caramel ice cream.
Thama, Mesogeion 242, Holargos
Tel.: 211 013 9951
Prices: 20 – 30 euro