Monday, 12 January 2015

Sunday Lunch at La Strada

Some years ago we had lunch on the beach wall at La Strada taverna, just down the road from our place. It was during a lovely weekend in the summer of 2009 when a couple of friends from town came down to stay, go swimming and generally chill out. In fact it was the very weekend when I went looking for our supper in the sea and discovered the "wonder of toothpaste", which just happens to be the title of chapter 2 of "A Plethora of Posts", where the story - about the toothpaste that is - is related in full.

Since then we haven't been back to La Strada. That isn't because we didn't enjoy a lovely lunch, it's more to do with the fact that we don't go out so very often and, when we do, we tend to look for somewhere new. The fact is, we've now eaten at all of the restaurants on Kiotari front, from the Petalas [formerly the Paralia] through La Strada, to Stefano's, The Pelican's Nest and finally Il Porto [formerly To Steki]. a few hundred meters further south and standing alone is the Lighthouse, and we've eaten there too.

A few weeks before the end of the year we'd noticed a lot of work going on at the La Strada. They were having some new windows installed, to close in what had before been a dining area that was open to the elements and consequently not suitable for dining out much of the time during the winter months. As you'll know, me and the better half walk this stretch of beach very often, in fact probably on average twice a week during the winter and so we keep a wary eye on developments, which was how we'd seen George's progress with the renovations at The Pelican's Nest during the months of the previous winter. I snapped this photo just as the La Strada job was coming to a finish...

La Strada, November 21st 2014
This made it pretty likely that plans were afoot to open the place during the winter, at least on weekends, so we made a mental note to remember it as and when we were planning to have Sunday lunch out.

Well, yesterday we finally got around to it. In fact, since the extremely cold snap was finally over and Sunday dawned brilliantly sunny and considerably warmer, we said we'd like to eat beside the sea. At first I'd had the idea of going down to Gennadi, but it was my dearly beloved who said, "Why don't we combine eating out with a nice walk? After all, it's pushing 20ºC outside and there isn't a cloud to be seen. What about La Strada?"

Of course I instantly concurred (we do fellas, dont' we? makes for a much quieter life after all), on the proviso that I call them first to make sure that they were definitely open. It's a 20 minute walk from our front gate to the taverna's front door, so it would have been a disaster to have arrived famished to find a locked door and no quick way of going anywhere else. I did a quick Google and found them on TripAdvisor (which you'll probably already know if you clicked that link back there in the paragraph above the first photo). Seeing the phone number I called and a lady told me that, yes they were indeed open for lunch today. "Right," I said, "we'll be down there within the hour", and indeed we were.

By the time we were within five minutes walk of La Strada we remarked on the fact that we've never lived anywhere before where we could walk to a restaurant without having to set foot on a surfaced road, except for a quick dash across the main road from one dirt track to the next on our way to the water front. Good eh?

By the time we walked into La Strada we were feeling hot from the walk and well ready for a traditional lunch of simple Greek fare. I have written about another traditional taverna here in Kiotari too, Angelaki's, which is on the main road through Kiotari down to Gennadi. It features in the post "A Tale of Two Tavernas" which was written in August 2012 and that's a fact that really scares me because I was thinking that it was only last year!! That taverna is very popular with locals and ex-pats alike and for good reason, but to be frank, when we eat out on a glorious sunny day, the view, or outlook, from our table has to be a major factor. It's the one way in which Angelaki's falls down, it's on a road and the view isn't anything to write home about.

La Strada, on the other hand, is in the perfect location for dining out on a bright, warm sunny day...

We walked into an almost empty dining area. There was one table occupied and one of the diners was a close friend from Pilona. Small world. After a nice little chat and a couple of introductions, we chose a table near the door and along came the young man to leave us a couple of menus. His name is Minas and he and his mum Eleni were running the show today. That aside, the place is really cosy, very nicely done out and we really liked the traditional feel of the decor. 

Something else which pleased us immensely was the kind of guy Minas was. As you'll also know we don't eat meat and so often get by on a few starters for a meal. We ordered their special "Yiortini Salad" [lit: Celebration/Celebratory Salad] which comprised lettuce, rocket, Graviera cheese, walnuts, dried cranberry pieces, little squares of toasted bread (homemade croutons), onion with a vinaigrette and oil dressing. We also went for the courgette rissoles, fried potatoes (chips guys - here we go again, eh?), two grilled pitas and a half a litre of the house white, which to our ecstatic delight came in one of those aluminium jugs that you always used to get house wine in years ago and have sadly become much rarer these days.

You know what Minas did after he'd taken the order, he retreated respectfully. THAT'S why we took an instant liking to him. So often you get some smart-assed waiter who'll say "anything else? The most expensive fish perhaps? " No. No pressure at all, the very polite young man retreated with our order and an "evharisto poli". Looks-wise he reminded me of a younger Prince actually (you know, his royal Minneapolis-ness himself. Hope Minas won't mind me saying that).

The food arrived gradually, as one would expect when it's freshly prepared and, well, here it is folks...

Everything was superb. the kolloki'tho-keftedes [courgette rissoles] were among the best we've ever eaten, not too oily at all. The salad was absolutely splendid (if you haven't tried Graviera cheese, which is from Crete by the way, you haven't lived!), the chips home-made and very fresh (piping hot when they arrived, so much so that the first few had to be extinguished in the mouth with a generous swig of the very acceptable house wine. That's my excuse anyway). All in all the perfect light lunch on a perfect day in a perfect location.

I asked for an Elliniko to round it off and Eleni, who'd just the once approached us as we ate to ask if everything was OK, brought us a freebie of syruped dried grapes with crushed walnuts and a complimentary glass of water to clean our palates with...

This place deserves to do well. Eleni and Minas are a delight and in case it matters to you, they speak good English too, a fact we learned because our friends on the other table communicated with them in English the whole time. We had kind of expected it to be much fuller than it was and I put it down to the fact that it's only their second month of being open during the winter time. Word needs to get around. So, if anyone living in the south of Rhodes reads this, get on down there folks!! If your meal is anything like as good as ours, you'll be glad you did. In fact, our friends on the next table agreed with us and they'd had meat dishes too. Plus the location is superb. 

Know what? Our bill came to around €22 and we were full. Next time I'm going to order the char-grilled Tsipoura [Sea Bream] because I haven't seen it at that price for a long time. When I do I'll report back.

Not long before we reluctantly asked for the bill and prepared to leave, a Greek pal of ours from Asklipio walked in with another man. Manolis, pictured below right, had his brother Panayiotis down from Rhodes town for a visit and they marched in, asked for a table to be set at the beach wall and ate their meal out there. Wish we'd done the same now...

Not bad for the 11th of January is it?

Manolis introduced us to the very affable Panayiotis, who told us that he was a hairdresser with a salon in town. We asked him for cards and he didn't have any on him. Never mind, he did have some merchandising ballpoint pens with the salon's name and contact details on them and he not only gave us one each but he gave me a couple to give to our other friends too. I joked that, since he's in town he'll be expensive and Manolis jumped to his defence and assured us he isn't. The salon's name is Figaro and it's on Konstantinou Palaiologou Street, no. 17. Phone number 22410-20914. That's the least I can do since both men agreed to me shooting them (photographically, of course) enjoying their al fresco lunch beside the sea in what is surely my favourite beachside location on the island. Haraki is gorgeous, yes, but quite different. Comparisons of the two locations would be pointless.

And I live right here too folks! Sometimes I just have to pinch myself. Sorry, but after a day like yesterday it's hard not to!! Details of La Strada will soon appear in the alphabetical list on the "Play, Eat, Visit" page. I'll be posting a scanned card (both sides) there too.


  1. As your friend from Pylona, I would like to add to your comments, we had a pork dish with onions and peppers delicious. Spit roast pork and lamb, so tender. We had most of the dishes you have already mentioned and all were superb. I can also recommend this Taverna, one of the best lunches for a long time.

    1. Excellent. Since my beloved and I aren't in a position to judge the quality of the meat dishes, this is very valuable information, thanks B.

  2. We have always enjoyed the meals taken at La Strada. Simple, delicious food, served with gentle grace by the family who run it. Eleni, I believe, was born in Baltimore and lived there for twenty odd years before making the wise decision to settle in her parents' homeland.