Our island "excursion" (as it is now being called) was a series of unfamiliar leaps across puddles to various rocks in a big puddle called the Aegean. I had not been in this puddle before, and the Ferrie Algorithm became a very reliable method of gauging the potential quality of cuisine.
There are times, however, when one needs to be less systematic in choosing a meal. Numbers and floor patterns can often muddle the more intuitive sense of a good meal in waiting.
In a city that has steadily shrunk since September 2, I am only mildly hesitant in saying that the best food in Athens is made by a man named Stavros who has gray hair and likes to bet.
His taverna nests on a V-intersection just two blocks from the Panathanaiko Stadium, one of the premier tourist attractions in Athens, and the topic of my first post. The street is lit the color of rotten peach and peppered with fish-eager cats. Ouzeri Stavros is initially very disconcerting, especially for an herbivore. The only edibles visible upon entrance are deceased marine life: kalamari, salmon, et. al. Ask about vegetables (hortas) and an offer persists for "beefsteak." A menu exists, but I don't think most people use it; they have been there before, know what can be had, what they are getting. There must be one copy for the entire restaurant. Sit down with a table of six, and you will leisurely pass around one two-page laminated menu which must be mulled over, eagerly, in shifts.
Bread is an assumption, and it damn well better be. We want it. Don't dare suppose otherwise. Smother it with oil and burn it on the edges.
Every night we get something special on the house, either as a thanks, or standard hospitality. The first night: watermelon and wine, then chocolate cake that competes with your finest dreams.
Upon every arrival, usually with a new segment of our group, we greet Stavros with a grin and a some broken Greek. He sets our table, and watches the futbol game as Dora takes our orders for bread, wine, and fried vegetables. A night at Stavros is never an early one. They are not in a hurry. If you are, why have you come?
The regulars at Stavros' are always willing to talk, because, despite their proximity to snapshot-town, we are some of the only foreigners who come. Nobody told Fodor's about Stavros. I hope they don't.