To Kafeneio: Another Plaka restaurant presentation

To Kafeneio

Address-Area: 1 Epiharmou St. [Plaka neighbourhood], Athens
Tel: 210-32.46.916
Last Visit: 2012-03-24
Cuisine: Greek, traditional with a twist
Overall opinion: Positive / neutral
Methods of payment: cash / credit; Visa, AmEx, Mastercard, Diners
Working hours: Open from 09:30 for coffee. Restaurant hours: 11:30am - 01:00am (call for reservation, esp. for Friday night or Saturday)
Website: www.tokafeneio.gr
Accessibility: Only the outdoor tables on the pedestrian street (it has a slight downward slope); WC only accessible by walking downstairs

Indicative order:
Eggplant rolls (bourekia melitzanas)
Grilled feta cheese (saganaki) sprinkled with honey
Mushrooms (manitaria tou oneirou)
Kavourmas (meat dish w/ tomato sauce)
Meatballs with red curry sauce (Keftedakia tou Nikou)
Chocolate Fruit Passion w/ strawberry 
Kormos sokolatas (chocolate with biscuit "mosaic")
1/2 litre of aged Agiorgitiko wine
Bread for 2
Price: 40.10Euros (around 20€/person, incl. dessert)

Presentation / Ambience: Housed in an old coffee-shop (hence the name “kafeneio”) built of stone and wood, with tables laid out at levels, in one small hall, indoors. Old wooden furniture and decorations create a folkloric atmosphere. Some extra lighting inside would have been welcome. There are about 6 tables outdoors, in the calm, sloping, pedestrian street. They don’t have much of a view, except for a peek-through at the Scholarhio tavern across the corner on the busy, pedestrian, Tripodon St.  
Overall it is an interesting case of a restaurant, not only for the architecture of the building and for serving as a coffee place in the mornings but also for its efforts in the food and wine department.
Beautiful table-top tile decoration, Kafeneio restaurant - Athens

Food / Drinks: Overall food quality is very good here and the chef does not seem to be afraid to stray a little from the standard Greek fare, although the restaurant is located in the heart of the country’s tourist zone. We love the Indian-influenced, red curry-sauce meatballs and the armyrikia greens which are really hard to find. We also liked the kavourmas dish which is a traditional combination of “cheap” cuts from (mainly) beef and lamb, made extra tasty by cooking in a red tomato sauce, sprinkled with grated feta cheese, parsley and spices. The chocolate fruit passion dessert was excellent (and I don’t even like strawberry!) but the “kormos sokolatas” and a cappuccino coffee (we’ve had it on a separate occasion) are the only unremarkable items we’ve come across here, in the otherwise excellent diners we’ve had.
The owners make an effort to incorporate organic ingredients in their kitchen.
Wine-wise, this is one of the few tavern-restaurants that seem to actually care about wine, offering several options of wine in the carafe, with the name of each chateau / variety displayed in the menu, instead of the generic “house wine” label found elsewhere. They also age some barrels of wine in their own cellar and there’s a small number of interesting, Greek wine bottles.
Unfortunately, they don’t seem to hold the same high regard for beer.

Service: We haven't encountered any problems here nor have we noticed anything we didn't like.

Location / Getting there: In the middle of the Plaka neighborhood, across the street from the perennial “Scholarchio” which I have also presented in the past. Syntagma, Monastiraki and Acropolis Metro stations are at about equal distance. You pick a map and you walk, trying to find the corner of Tripodon St. and Epicharmou St.. To Kafeneio is the only establishment at the small, pedestrian Epiharmou St.

To Kafeneio business card
The comparison with the nearby Scholarchio tavern is inevitable, so there you have it in brief: To Kafeneio is a bit more expensive (but not too much), and its food is generally more imaginative while it has a good wine selection. Ambience-wise, it is more quiet and the service seems to be more up to today’s standards. On the other hand, Scholarchio has a slightly better view, and looks busier (it has more tables). The food is more “traditional”, typical Greek; it's OK but not to get wild about. Its small menus give you the chance to sample various Greek dishes for a low price.
See map of Athens restaurants at the bottom of this page.

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