|Odyssey Taverna, Old Town|
|Left to right: Nikos, Christos, Nora & Babis|
For several weeks now I've been eating in the Odyssey Taverna in Old Rhodes Town on Tuesday lunchtimes, whilst leaving my excursion guests to explore the town. You know how sometimes you can eat somewhere, have a really wonderful meal and then go back there another time and be very disappointed? It's for this reason that I've given it a few weeks to see if the standard would be maintained. You know what? I still absolutely love the place.
The Odyssey is in Menekleous Street, which is easy to find, even in a place as confusing as the Old Town in Rhodes. You just walk up the main shopping street (Socratous) from the Square with the stone fountain and, when you arrive at the bar on the right with the huge tree above it, you take a left, walk around a "dog-leg" bend and the Odyssey appears on your right hand side, opposite Romeo's.
It's run by a very nice bloke called Babis, along with Nikos, Christos and Nora (there was also Deanna, but she's now finished for the winter), all of whom I've found to be very helpful and - what's more important - happy and friendly. I first went there on the recommendation of someone else and was given a warm welcome. I ordered courgette rissoles (kolokythokeftedes, OK, maybe better to stick with "courgette rissoles!") and Babis asked me if I'd like to try his tomatokeftedes, made with his own recipe. He said that he'd bring me one to try and see if I didn't agree that it was extremely tasty. It was. Plus I thought I'd see how good the fourno patates were, and they were simply delicious. The presentation was really impressive and the helpings huge.
I've since sampled a pretty good variety of their menu and last week ate two extremely delicious fish, done over the charcoal and with a squeeze of lemon, with some very tasty savoury rice alongside. One of my favourite dishes is the baked aubergine. It's actually an aubergine skin, with all of its contents scooped out, pulverised and mixed with herbs, onion and a little vinegar and lemon, then all stuffed back in and the entire kaboodle baked in the oven. A nicer aubergine dish would be hard to either find or imagine.
The restaurant opposite is called Romeo's. I've never eaten there and would have no problem expecting it to be equally as good. But I was drawn to the Odyssey by the fact that Romeo's enjoys the patronage of a few walking tour guides, each of which marches their group into the taverna, either during or at the end of their tour. This has the effect of making the casual passer-by see it stuffed full of clients and perhaps drawing the conclusion that this is due to their food being of superior quality to the Odyssey across the way. Babis, on the other hand, tells me that the Odyssey relies entirely on those who pass by taking the plunge and coming in to try his fare. He has no regular arrangement with the guides.
When my wife and I used to take holidays in Greece I'd lose count of the number of times that we'd peruse a menu whilst eyeing the clientele of the establishment in question plus the close neighbours. How often my wife would say, "Let's go into this one, they have more people so it must be good". I would always counter with, "Yea, but if we go into the empty one, they're bound to look after us and treat us well, since they need the business more." I usually lost.
So it was with great pleasure that I was able to take my wife to the Odyssey today. Guess what. She loved it. They brought us a huge helping of both types of veggie keftedes, plus a green salad of lettuce and chopped spring onions and a plate of fourno patates. My wife suggested that we ask for a doggy-bag to take some of the rissoles home, but we eventually ate the lot and then complained that we'd overdone it.
Hopefully the excursion will run again next week. If it does, I know where I'll be taking lunch!!!