Lutter & Wegner

I have probably eaten here at least a half dozen times so far.  No joke!  It probably has something to do with my hubby being Austrian or the great view over Gendarmenmarkt.  The food can be decent although be forwarned, it’s on the pricey side.

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Flammkuchen at Standige Vertretung

About a year ago, little L and I accompanied hubby on a business trip to Strasbourg and its environs.  I was all geared up for all the sauerkraut I was planning to consume but I had not as yet encountered a Flammkuchen (or Tarte Flambee as it is known in France).

We attended an event with tents and waiters and a catered stand with a chef that just made Flammkuchen, non-stop for about 4 hours.  I in-delicately squeezed 3 pieces on to the little teeny weeny plate and went to nibble away on it in a lady like fashion.  That didn’t last long.  Soon, the chef and I were on a first name basis.  I am exaggerating really, but I did have to contend with a raised eyebrow or two when I went for my third serving.

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Melilotos - Restaurant - Athens

In the words of Usher - OMG!  What a find!  Well, I didn’t find it, Charly Wildler of the New York Times found it.  I found the article.

What I wasn’t expecting is that they only have one table.  That’s right!  This is a restaurant that primarily does deliveries to the nearby hotels and offices. They have one table with two chairs right by the door, which the staff (read as family)  sit at when there is a lull in service.  By around 1:30 the chef is in the kitchen and the table is stacked high with bags of food to be delivered.

I asked Despina (the restaurant manager, wife of the chef and daughter of the other chef)  if it would be ok to sit there and have lunch?  She said, “Sure, if you don’t mind the craziness”.  Crazy indeed.  The phone rang continously while we were there.  3 delivery boys were constantly bustling in and out.  And I couldn’t see the chef for the orders lined up in front of him.

Even though its 35 C outside today I ordered meat and rice stuffed vine leaves with avgolemono sauce (an sour lemon sauce thickened with egg).  I received a generous portion of 8 and I ate 6 of them.  I would have eaten them all but 2 migrated to my friend’s plate.

Followed by a large piece of refreshingly light cheesecake that Despina’s mother had made that morning.

As I was chatting away to Despina after I had paid my bill.  She told me that she fell in love with Konstantinos (the chef) when she asked him to cook a dish that was “her on a plate.”  How original - don’t you think?  He created a dish of stewed beef with chestnuts.  She was hooked from that moment on, apparently she loves anything with chestnuts.

They decided there and then to open a restaurant.  Konstantinos is a chef that loves his craft, it obviously did not sit well with him when his then employer suggested that he wash some old chicken in vinegar (to get rid of the smell) and serve it to customers.  Instead Despina and Konstantinos decided to open a place that suited their palate and where they did not compromise on ingredients and quality.  ”At the beginning we used to just eat the food we hadn’t sold ourselves, we would never serve it again the next day!  But now we are so busy that we just sell out before the day is done.”

Melilotos doesn’t advertise either.  ”If we did, we might get too busy.”  I would imagine that would be a good thing but Despina set me right “My mother cooks a lot of the food.  And she cooks just like she is doing it for a big family.  She wouldn’t be able to cook in the huge quantities needed for a big restaurant.”

What insight!

But more importantly, how wonderful that there are still family run places - that are in it for the love of the trade.  Truly outstanding!  You must visit. Its only opened during the week, daytime only.  And if that one table happens to be taken, well order some food to go and sit in Syntagma square and enjoy some serious home cooking!

Mellilotos, Xenofondos 15 (inside the lobby on left); (30-210) 322-24-58. Open Monday to Thursday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Friday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m
Melilotos has now moved to a new location 19 Kalamiotou, Athens.

To review or not?


Rich from the Leeds based website got me thinking on the subject of posting a bad review of a restaurant.  And wether a blogger is entitled to mess with (potentially if said blogger has enough of a following) the livelihood of a restaurant. 

Personally, I think its fine to give a restaurant a bad review on a blog. Sometimes there are bloggers who JUST give bad reviews but then again, one look at their blog and one would probably understand that and probably not pay them much attention.  In the same way you probably wouldn’t be friends with someone who complained all the time!

Or, you are a reasonable person with reasonable dissatisfactions on an eating experience you paid for. In that case, sure! Air your grievances, in a reasonable way because you go to a restaurant expecting to be served food you will like, receive good service and ultimately be shown a good time.

Lets say you are wrong, well then it won’t really have such a huge impact.

On the other hand if you are right but keep your opinions to yourself, then chances are the restaurant will keep making the same errors on the plate or in service or whatever and eventually shut down. Restaurants are in a very tough position, they really have to be perform and be judged every day! I think a good restaurant would appreciate feedback.

Ultimately that is why people like Fay Maschler and Jay Rayner are paid by newspapers to go eat-drink-and be merry.  And why we read them because through reading their columns (or books) we have formulated a makeshift equation of what they like compared to what we like and we trust their taste enough to go or not go.  Of course it is unlikely that what Jay gets when he sits his royal restaurant critics tushie down is the same as what you or I might be served…

And of course, by the time you or I decide to go to the restaurant Fay decided was the best thing since sliced bread, well, we might only be able to secure a table at say 17:30 p.m. (for dinner) to be vacated in 1 hour and 15 minutes.  

Considering that, it is actually quite lucky if one stumbles across a blog that has reviews good and bad that can be trusted!

On the other hand I have to say, that having worked in the food industry in the UK, it is appalling the level of bad behavior one had to accept! For example, I used to work in a posh deli in Primrose Hill London and whenever a gaggle of well to do with nothing to do ladies would come in my heart would sink. I knew I would have to spend the rest of the day pandering to absurd requests “Can I have a half caff, dry, soya milk, cappuccino with a twist of lime? (remember the film LA Stories with Steve Martin?) The answer I wanted to give “Eh, no goodbye!”. The answer I was obliged to give? “Sure!”  That is penuts to what I have witnessed! Things would lead to said punter being thrown out on to the street on his/her ear with the ejector receiving a standing ovation from the now horizontal complaining punters fellow diners!

Wouldn’t it be swell if there was a forum where we could hear their take?  If there was a website where a tired waiter, or frazzled chef, or barman with alcohol soaked socks - could log in at the end of a long shift and share with the world the ridiculous requests of the woman who asked for a special desert with no “sugar, nuts, eggs or flour.” oh and she doesn’t really like fruit (I served this woman once, I know she exists!).  

If someone does start this website, let me know so I can subscribe at once!


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