We’re not sure what it’s like to live there, but a visit to the northern Athens suburb of Vrilissia is a great day out for us. The square is always lively, the market well-stocked and crowded, and the neighbourhood friendly towards children, cyclists and, more recently, gourmands.
It might seem as if souvlaki joints and grill houses dominate the culinary map of the area, but new eateries that take the subject of food much more seriously are slowly starting to take root.
One such place is Mammoth, a tiny venue with a passion for top quality ingredients, where not only can you eat in but you can get a takeout. Indeed, on the day we visited, we saw plenty of people enter, enquire about the specials of the day and leave with their takeaway in hand.
However, despite the takeaway service, the emphasis remains on the experience of dining out. This little courtyard ‒ which is covered during the winter ‒ is surprisingly homely. But more importantly, the food is very good.
We tried the grilled croaker with spinach and truly enjoyed it. It was juicy and incredibly fresh. Just as tasty ‒ and coming in a very generous serving ‒ was the tagliatelle with apaki (smoked ham), parsley and katiki (soft white) cheese.
From among the salads, we selected the spinach, beetroot leaf and cream cheese, and a velvety taramosalata (fish roe salad). The smoked mackerel with onions, rocket and lemon was also a fantastic dish.
The menu changes every day with daily specials, while there is plenty of choice for vegetarians too, such as the lentil, quinoa and vegetable patties, which we’ve been told is delicious.
Small in size but large in hospitality, Mammoth makes for a great day out in Vrilissia.
* Originally published in Kathimerini’s K magazine