Tuesday, March 1, 2011 0 comments
The vicinity of the new Benaki Museum, on Piraios Street in Redi, an old, industrial part of Athens that is slowly being gentrified, is still a gastronomic no man's land. After a recent visit to the museum, to see the work of the Greek architect Pikionis (he designed, among other things, the stone pathway leading up to the Acropolis), we ended up at Skoufias, a traditional taverna right across the street.

Skoufias has good energy. Young but traditional, filled with old and new chachkas and contemporary Greek art, it has just the right artsy feel for an apres museum outing. The menu, hand-written in a traditional school notebook, is simple. Most familiar dishes have a twist.

Out of six salads, we tried two, the potato salad with oranges, inspired by the use of oranges in the southern Peloponnese region of the Mani, and the Mesogeiaki (Mediterranean), basically a slaw with yogurt dressing, the main difference being that the cabbage was cut in large, unwieldy strips that were hard to pierce with a fork and even harder to fit in your mouth! A plate of dolmades (stuffed grape leaves) was of the vegetarian kind, stuffed with rice, raisins and pine nuts and served "yalantzi" --with yogurt. They were tender, flavorful, and good. The fava, a puree of yellow split peas, was nothing out of the ordinary. It is served cold, which I have a pet peeve about. Grilled pleurotus mushrooms were simple and competent, while the pita kaisarias, a buttery (quite so) mass of phyllo pastry, pastourma, tomatoes, and kasseri cheese was a little laden, but the combination is always seductive to me. A prasotigania (pork and leeks cooked in a small skillet) was a little tough.

Main courses were simple and competent, with nothing stellar to recall. A pork loin stuffed with peppers and feta and wrapped in grape leaves was a little dry; the salmon with eggplant cream, a special the day we went and a take on the classic Anatolian Greek dish, hounkiar begendi, typically made with lamb or beef, suffered from an overly sour eggplant cream that knocked the flavor balance off kilter.

The atmosphere, lively, urban and artsy, is definitely more of a reason to try this fun little place than is the actual food.

Dessert was a totally over scoop of kaimaki ice cream (flavored with mastiha) and spoonfuls of the Greek sour cherry preserve, vyssino.

Skoufias, Megalou Vasileiou 50, Rouf
Tel. 210 341 2252
Prices: 17 - 22 euro per person with wine

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