Monday, October 25, 2010
The Plaka is the oldest neighborhood in Athens and the cobblestone streets and neoclassical homes attest to the charm of this part of town. It is also a big tourist draw with shops, tavernas and bars competing for foreign customers using sales tactics that far surpass most American salespeople; I don't know many sales people in the US who can switch between four languages easily enough to flatter and entice people walking on a street to sit down to a meal, do you?
Some places just look inviting, even though they are in the busiest most touristy place, some can be quite good, and Taberna Ta was very decent for both service and food in the center of the Plaka. It helps that they have been around for decades and they make everything they serve on the premises from the spanikopita (spinach pies) to the souvlaki (kebabs). The display counter shows all the ingredients that go into the meals and everything in it looked fresh, so I took my chance and took a seat.
My host switched from the two Asian languages he spoke to English and French once he saw the perplexed look on my face. Since the daily special is usually the best dish, I went with the Pork special the waiter recommended. I was going to order a salad, but the waiter said it came with vegetables. Maybe the vegetables were invisible, so you see any on the plate? Maybe he thought the parsley counted as a vegetable because it was green.
My first bite of the pork was so salty I thought I would have to send it back, but after a few tentative tastes, it was obvious that the dish was just unevenly salted. The pork was tender and the serving was copious enough that I barely finished the meat and did not even make a dent in the the rice. After my meal, I was given a complimentary dessert made with sesame seeds and honey that was both rich and sweet; it was a good way to erase the shock of salt overdose I had gotten at the beginning of my meal.
A sweet ending to a salty beginning makes this place a "Maybe" for anyone contemplating trying this restaurant. The perfect service and location may make this more of a place to stop for drinks or coffee than for a meal.