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06 October 2006

Eating Like the Ancient Greeks

Visiting the restaurant Αρχαίων (Arhaion) for some "old" food

It's full moon time. Time for doing something romantic, like going to the Acropolis in moonshine. Unfortunately the nights when the Acropolis is open to the public in full moon nights are only in Summer. As an alternative we went to dine in the garden of the restaurant Αρχαίων (Arhaion), eating food like the ancient Greeks did. We had an interesting food experience and a good view of the moon too...

Eleni had heard about that restaurant through some student information for foreign students here. I was a bit cautious, but looked them up on the web and finally called for a table. They are what one would call a "themed" restaurant, following the line of the ancients with a nice sense for the detail.

There aren't really any proper recipes handed down from ancient times, but the cooks studied the ancient writings and recreated what could have been some ancient foods. The menu describes the foods and quotes the texts that referenced them. But that's just where it starts. There are obviously columns in the restaurant, with nice subdued lighting. The personnel is wearing classic garb. On the table you will find no glasses, but earthenware cups - ashtrays and the bottled water usual in expensive restaurants spoiling the effect a bit.

...and the food?

The food doesn't have potatoes, pasta, american corn, tomatoes, any of the foodstuff brought to Europe in the last few centuries. Other foods like barley and peas take place. The spicing of the food is also very different, since for example pepper is likely absent. We tried a salad with lettuce, cucumbers, pears, apples, plums, raisins, dressed up with yoghourt, honey and spearmint.

Our main dish was "stuffed slices of pork", filled with plums in dark juice - which was really excellent. It was accompanied with artichokes that were somehow not to my liking, even though I normally like artichokes. It also came with a mousse of fresh mashed peas. Now that was definitely something one has to get used too. Those mashed peas have a weird smell on them, but they taste almost ok when one eats them. All in all my oppinion on the plate is still ambivalent, but I enjoyed the salad.

Ancient computer bugs too!

We also had ordered "Sausage slices with mustard and sauce from leeks and cress" as a starter. It never materialized on our table, and since the helpings are big enough, we did not feel the need to complain (except for getting it off our bill, where it of course materialized, the modern computer ordering system being at odds with the spirit of the ancients).

Talking about the bill: The place isn't cheap. For me it's a sometimes for fun expense level, not pure luxury, but not some reasonable price level. Lots of patrons were tourists. But the price is in some sense held up by the special atmosphere, a very nice neoclassical surrounding, and all the work and research that has gone into creating the place and the menu.

Some of the details they created are little things that are missing: We were surprised to not have any forks on our table. But that is to be expected, since likely the ancient Greeks didn't have forks on their tables. Eating a salad with a spoon is an experience too.

Restaurant Αρχαίων (Arheon): 22 Kodratu Str. , Metaxurgio Tel. +30 210-5239661,

Posted by betabug at 16:23 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
ch athens
Life in Athens (Greece) for a foreigner from the other side of the mountains. And with an interest in digital life and the feeling of change in a big city. Multilingual English - German - Greek.
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