Attikos Mediterranean Grill
Where: Ballito Lifestyle Centre, Ballito
Open: Sunday to Thursday 11am to 10pm, Friday and Saturday 11am to 11pm.
Call: 087 460 0231
Attikos, meaning rugged coast, is the name given to the rugged peninsula that has Athens at its core. But for owners Christos and Tracy Konahos, it deals more with memories of holidays on the island of Karystos, just off the Attica peninsula and about 100km from Athens by ferry. It was where his father was born.
The menu says it’s inspired by fishermen bringing in the daily catch, local products produced by restaurateurs, food, laughter and family. It very much looks to the Greek culture and enjoyment of food, and the Greek concept of hospitality, where outsiders soon become friends.
While the restaurant is not what one might expect on the islands ‒ there are no plain wooden tables, Hellenic blue shutters, and a couple of old codgers playing backgammon and drinking ouzo in the corner ‒ it is inviting. It’s a comfortable contemporary space decorated in contemporary mid-century modern. It has a bar and some more secluded dining areas inside. It looks out onto an open courtyard, giving it a feeling of airy openness. The little three-wheeler truck at the entrance adds to the character. We’re happy to sit on the terrace and watch the world go by.
Service is friendly, and we’re soon sipping on G&Ts served in modern straight glasses with a single massive ice-cube that floats in the glass like an iceberg. A good idea not to water the drinks down too much.
The menu takes in many Greek staples and a few lesser known items. It’s also nicely devised so one can order lots of small plates of things which would make for a very sociable table. Plus there are platters taking in all the specialities ‒ meat based, fish based and veg. Plates of pickled octopus, stuffed calamari, prawns with ouzo, falafels, dolmades and grilled halloumi might make a fantastic starter array for a large table. Besides the conventional spanakopita with spinach and feta, there’s a version with kefalotyri (a hard sheep's cheese) and herbs, and one with feta, honey and sesame seeds. Single souvlakia (kebabs) are also available.
We decided to start with a dip platter (R69 on the lunch special menu, R95 otherwise) which came with a good garlicky hummus, gutsy olive tapenade and spicy xtipiti (creamed feta). Tzatziki and taramasalata are also available. We also pigged out on some very good zucchini fries (R59), super thin slices of zucchini lightly dusted in flour and cooked to a crisp with generous Parmesan shavings. We lapped these up in no time.
Mains take in any number of versions with souvlaki, steaks, chops, ribs, and chicken while spit-roasted lamb, chicken or pork belly certainly appealed, but this was lunch.
There’s also fish and chips and a number of seafood mix and match options. For those who are perhaps not inspired by Greek food ‒ I don’t know why ‒ there’s even a few pastas, a chicken schnitzel and a seafood curry.
The Glass Man spied the moussaka (R99 on lunch special, R130 normal) which was enough for two to share. It was a lovely authentic plate of good comfort food. I enjoyed the biftekia, two lamb meat patties that came with a Greek side salad (R115).
We also enjoyed the Greek rice pudding (R59) that we shared which was nicely tarted up with cinnamon, and went down well with good Greek coffees. They also do what is my favourite Greek dessert bougatsa ‒ custard pies baked in crispy phyllo. Next time.
The Bill: R780 including a 10% service charge (yes, it was stated on the menu). Sorry but I lost the bill and this was a credit card receipt that included a more generous tip for our waitress’s good service.
The Independent on Saturday