BOCA RATON, FL (Special to TSD After Dark) Gerofinakas. The restaurant that’s wowed Athenians for 50 years. The one that was built around an ancient palm tree. The one touting it’s world famous, delicately seasoned lamb on the spit. The spectacular chilled octopus. The succulent oven roasted potatoes. CLOSED (maybe). So that’s my review. No delicately seasoned lamb on the spit. No chilled octopus. No oven roasted potatoes.
I knew there were problems when the girl at the front desk at the Athens Hilton never heard of the place. Of course she was about 23, which isn’t exactly Gerofinakas’ demo. This place catered to the politicians, the movers and shakers in Athens, and world travelers, but not in a snobby way, just in a dignified way. A tie and jacket was merely suggested – never required.
But above all it was the food that kept people coming back year after year.
But here’s the deal. When we called the number, it just kept ringing. There was no answering machine, no forwarding message, no phone company operator telling me the number was out of order. Just an endless ring. Same at another Athens culinary pantheon, Kostoyannis.
Institutions, folks. And there’s no one at the door.
It’s a mystery I could have pursued, but chose not to. I chalked it up to changing times. We’ll assume these places just don’t appeal to the trendier set who’ve replaced their parents and grandparents. Athens has changed a lot. It is a truly international city, especially since the 2004 Summer Olympics. And, it’s caught up with much of Europe by being quite expensive. But if you look hard enough, you’ll find little gems at affordable prices, like the place we found on our last night in Greece – Dimitrios & Gregory…a pleasant little taverna tucked just behind the Hilton in a park. The food was outstanding and the service included a complimentary after dinner drink.
Our “after” after dinner drink was on our balcony overlooking the acropolis; a view everyone should see at least once in their lifetime.
The culinary highlight goes to my cousin Efthemia Koutroufini who makes the world’s greatest Pastitsio, a sort of Greek lasagna, which has an addicting (and heart clogging) quality to it.
I can get used to the European lifestyle quite easily. It’s geared around conversation and exchanges of ideas and appreciation of nature and long, relaxing meals. But as I returned home, I quickly got back to the rush, as if I’d never left. My heart and even my head may be European — but my feet are planted firmly in the American rat race.
I’m looking forward to a detour again, soon.