Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Word Gets Around

I did say in the post "Sunday Lunch at La Strada" that I'd report back once we'd made a return visit and I'd ordered the Tsipoura (Sea Bream). Well, last Sunday we arranged to meet a few friends down there for a repeat visit, since the weather was once more great for walking.

Those dining with us went for various dishes containing chicken (one of which is chicken done with a yogurt sauce (which does sound very nice) and the two of us almost had a duplicate of the previous lunch from a couple of Sundays ago except for the fact that I ordered the Tsipoura, chargrilled, as in my humble opinion it always ought to be. 

If you know anything about ordering fish in a Greek restaurant you'll know that very often the menu will only show a price per kilo for most fresh fish. This does put some people off, since they'll read something like €40 in the price column and don't realise that it's the per-kilo price and that they just need to get the proprietor to weigh a fish of their choice and then negotiate a price which will more than likely be something like €10-15 for the selected fish, which often will feed more than one person anyway. One reason why I very often go for the Tsipoura is because it's invariably priced by the individual fish on the menu from the 'off' as it were and thus you already know how much you're going to pay for one, without the need to barter, which can be intimidating if you worry about the language problem, which shouldn't really be a worry since the staff almost always have enough English to make that a straighforward process. I go for it anyway simply for expediency and the fact that I really like that fish.

Over the past few years the price for Tsipoura on most menus has risen from what was about €9 - €10 Euros perhaps four or five years ago to anything from €12 - €15 these days. In La Strada at the moment, the price for Tsipoura on the menu is surprisingly a very acceptable €10, a price which I haven't seen for this fish in a very long time. Of course, one could thus expect it to be a disappointment when it arrives, perhaps owing to it being a bit smaller than you'd expect, yea? Nope, no sirree bob.

The food arrived gradually, as before, and once again was all cooked fresh. My Tsipoura was the last to arrive, which is as you'd expect since it's being grilled over the charcoal and can't be rushed. Even though we'd been well impressed by our previous lunch here, I admit to being a little expectant that the fish would be slightly below par, whilst probably being OK for this lower price level. I'm delighted to report that this was most definitely not so. I'd enquired when I ordered it from Eleni what it came with, and was told that it would be served with a side salad and fresh 'spitika' [homemade] chips, so that meant I'd probably not have to assist my wife in her attempts to get through what she'd ordered as well.

When it came it looked wonderful and appearance-wise most definitely as good as any I'd ever ordered anywhere. Plus the accompanying chips and salad arrived on separate plates and were both good-sized portions too. I didn't take any photos this time folks, sorry, but take my word for this - my fish was excellent. It was done to perfection, so I squeezed a little fresh lemon over it, ran my knife along its length to enable the extraction of the main backbone and ribs and tucked into the perfectly cooked succulent white flesh. I am not just saying (well, OK, writing) this and I have no previous acquaintance with Eleni or Mina, this is straight up. That Tsipoura was as good as any I've ever had and at a price that would have been about right four or five years ago. You can't say fairer than that, right?

Of course, ever the gentleman, I still found myself expected to help my dearly beloved polish off what she'd ordered as well, so ever the martyr, I obliged. We once again had the house white and were brought a modest lttle freebie at the end. Our friends had ordered red wine by the glass and all ate to satisfaction and agreed that we'd had a splendid lunch. Our bill (for five of us) came to €70, so we split it at €15 a head to give a €5 tip and concluded that we'd well and truly had our money's worth.

Interestingly, the place was much busier by the time we were ready to leave than it had been a couple of weeks ago. Apart from one couple, the rest of the clientele were all Greeks, which has to tell you something, right? Right. It does appear that word is getting around and we were extremely happy to have made a return visit and still enjoyed the food as much as we had the first time. How often do you eat somewhere and then go back, only to be disappointed for some reason or other?

Our friend, who we'd bumped into the first time we'd come to La Strada, has also since told us that she's been back too and once again had a very good lunch there. Looks like we may just be getting into a habit here, albeit not a weekly one, yet regular nevertheless.


  1. It’s nerd time again!
    The sea breams (Family Sparidae) are all great eating, but the gilthead (Sparus aurata) is, in my opinion (and yours), the best. The reason that it is cheaper than the others, as I am sure you know, is that it is farmed; none the worse for that! When you get the ferry to Halki you will see the cages to the south of Makri which hold gilthead and bass. This is also the reason that you can buy it by the fish, rather than by the kilo. They will be all “of a size”. I don’t know if you buy them to cook yourself, but they are very affordable, from memory €5 a kilo as opposed to €25 for some other species. I have them a couple of times a week in Pastida.
    Another reason that they are a good buy is that the Greek fishing boats never seem to carry ice to keep the expensive wild fish in peak condition, whereas the farmed fish come packed in it. Needless to say I carry ice on my boat!
    Finally, and sadly, the majority of UK tourists reared on Keith Floyd’s “Unidentified Frying Objects” cannot cope with real fish with bones. This is a further disincentive to ordering them.
    They are available in the UK, but supermarkets never sell them anywhere near fresh unfortunately, luckily fishmongers do. I have cut down to once a week while I am here, but I am looking forward to my return in May!


    1. The farms are there for 2 reasons as well. One is to provide fish for the table from waters that are sadly much depleted in recent decades; the second is to release fish into the wild to help with re-stocking. I know the fish farms on the way to Halki very well, having done the Halki excursion as a job for three seasons straight.

      As you say, Tsipoura is none the worse and no less fresh for being farmed. I totally agree too, that a lot of people shy away from "real" fish because of not wanting to tackle the bones. Their loss in my opinion.

      Incidentally, do you live in Pastida Simon? Have I asked you that before? Having lived on Rhodes since August 2005 and done a zillion Halki trips, I'm surprised we haven't bumped into one another.

  2. We will hsve to go to La Strada Roll on Easrer when we will be in Koskinou and Easter once more.Notching up 10 years on Rhodes.All places you mrntion in your blog re Tsipoura..Kameiros Skala..etc bring back so many memories.Aided and abetted by two gorgeous plump sea bream from Morrisons supermarket's superb fish counter eaten last Sunday..Admittedly farmed in Greece but fresh as fresh.Keep writing..

  3. Thanks Anon. I shall do my level best...