Daphne’s Restaurant, Athens Greece
We had two dinners and one lunch in Athens. August is tough because so much is closed. We wanted to go to about 5 other restaurants but alas, all closed. We ended up at Daphne’s. Although after much research we had a gut feeling it wasn’t going to be great. We were right.
What have learned a fair amount about traveling in the past couple of years. Do your research before you get there. Don’t necessarily trust the concierge because they don’t know you and your tastes. Do not go to the local restaurants where all the tourists go, those restaurants, although they may be high end, cater to tourists. Trust your instincts and plan ahead. Each time we go somewhere, we get better.
Daphne’s was given high marks from the New York Times. Although I am a huge fan of the New York Times for my daily intake, I haven’t trusted their travel section since we went to Jamaica years ago. Half Moon Bay was revered as a fantastic resort. Granted HMB is also given praise in many travel magazines but that doesn’t mean it is as good as they say. The resort was terrible. Run down, bad restaurants, unfriendly, just an awful experience. We had rented a home on the premises which is available to do with 2 families. In my bathroom, I could literally take a shower while brushing my teeth if Fred was in the shower. That sort of defines the resort. Your cocktail generally came at dessert. But enough of that, back to Daphne’s.
We sat outside in the back. The building is old and charming but also run down. The food is mediocre at best. Service was okay and really quick considering most places in Greece let you linger. Three of us began with an octopus vinaigrette. Sliced pieces of boiled octopus sliced and then served in olive oil. Simple. Fred had calamari rings that were grilled and stuffed with feta, Gouda and mozzarella. Everyone thought it tasted like bad pizza. Emily went for the large white beans in a red sauce. Classic Greek dish. Good not great.
For dinner Jess had an artichoke ragout (her and Emily split four appetizers between them for dinner) which was over cooked and laden with dill. They other dish was the classic shrimp baked in feta, red sauce and ouzo. This was quite good. I liked the slight hint of ouzo that came out in the sauce. Josh had roasted veal in wine sauce. A Greek like osso bucco meets brisket. Not bad but served with a huge amount of pasta on the side which I didn’t get. Fred and I went for lamb. The only reason we didn’t do fish is because we figured we’d be eating fish daily and nightly for the next week. Big mistake. Overcooked and tough with a spinach pie mixture on the side without the phyllo and baked carrots in butter.
Dessert was better. We had the ice cream which is recommended that comes from the root of okra, I think, and a mixture of traditional Greek desserts. Walnuts wrapped in phyllo with cinnamon, a strange spaghetti squash dish wrapped in phyllo and the classic custard dish which was okay not great. I love Greek desserts too.
All and all, we had a nice time and walked back to the hotel from there but the food, not so great. I am not sure I’d race back to Athens so quickly but I’d return if I knew a native and it was in season. An interesting city but one and a half days is plenty.
I like reading you, because you give travel to us how it is. And as much as I cringe at the fact that you would only spend one and half days in Greece – a place I could only dream of going, I totally take your word for it. And I can’t wait to follow you to the final destination.
As I save my money for travel, I don’t want to hit the hot spots that are average, I want to go to where I can get the most pleasure for the money and vacation time I have manged to save. And even if you hit places I can’t always afford, your general once over of a place seems to be pretty spot on.
Athens is one of the most beguiling, seductive, cosmopolitan cities in the world. It has an art scene that rivals NYC’s. It is filled with hidden pleasures. To say 2 days is enough is like saying 2 days is enough for Paris, or Rome. Please go back!
I couldn’t agree more. I’ve been to Greece twice in the last four years, and Athens is great for about a day but then you are ready to head for the islands where the real beauty and romance of Greece will seduce you. As for your assessment of HMB in Jamaica, spot on as well. I went there a few years ago and despite staying right next door to Dennis Quaid, that was about the only good thing the resort had to offer. The service was horrendous, the food mediocre at best and for what is billed as a five-star luxury resort, I certainly disagree.