Coverage of restaurants by the New York Times outside of the U.S. can be iffy. (Within New York can sometimes be problematic as well.) At the end, it all boils down to the writers you trust. For the most part, when it comes to food, I trust Frank Bruni, so before I left for Athens, I printed out Bruni’s “How to Eat Well in Athens.” (Coincidentally it was published on my birthday early this year. I secretly took it as a sign.) Of the five restaurants he wrote about, I visited two: Margaro and Karavitis. Both I liked, but I preferred Margaro slightly more. Conveniently for this blog, I happen to have taken pictures of my meal at Margaro.
Bruni wrote on the day he went, the night’s options were “mullet, shrimp or langoustine.” When David and I visited months later, the options were the same. Most probably it will be the same for you if you ever decide to go. David and I ordered the langoustines and the red mullet. Both were cooked simply; lightly coated in flour, fried, and salted. David found the red mullet (€9.50/$13.77) “too fishy” for his taste, but to me they were fine. Red mullet isn’t an oily fish, but the taste is stronger than a white fish like cod. Stronger isn’t a bad thing. The only potential problem with red mullet is getting the small needle-like bones caught in your throat. During our meal, we heard short spurts of gagging intermittently throughout the restaurant. I hacked up a few bones myself. It’s hard to resist inhaling the meaty babies, bones and all, when they hit the table hot, freshly fried.
The langoustines (€9/$13.05) I liked better because while the fish was good, is there anything better than sucking sweet brains out of creepy, crawly things from the sea?
We also shared a Greek salad (€5.50/$7.97) which consisted simply of tomatoes, peppers, red onions, and a large block of feta anointed with a hearty dose of olive oil. Nothing magical here, just good fresh ingredients. The onions in Greece, by the way, were always sweet.
At the end of the meal, the waiter brought over a bowl of cherries. That and a glass of ouzo (€6/$8.70) was a nice end to our satisfyingly rustic meal.
Hatzikyriakou 126 (last restaurant on the west end of Hatzikyriakou; map)