and All Things Greek!

Eating Out – Roda

Roda used to be a fishing village with a really nice beach. Over the years, it has developed along with the increases in package holidays. Having said that, it is quite small compared to many other resorts.

The beach is still excellent and the tourist is well catered for whatever their taste in food. There is entertainment for those that feel the need!

We are going to mention just a few of the establishments in Roda The reader should recognise that as permanent residents, the major holiday resorts are not the first places that we think of when it comes to eating out. That is not meant to sound ‘snobbish’ but probably does!

The places chosen are all totally different and go to show the diversity of food that one can find in a resort such as Roda.

We decided to conduct something of an ‘experiment’ this year! Basically, our objective was to visit places that we wouldn’t normally visit and try to see them through the eyes of a visitor, especially the first time visitor.

We have lived in the north-east of Corfu for over ten years and when we eat out there are places that immediately spring to mind. To be honest, Roda is not one of them unless we are passing and want an excellent grill from Dimitris’ Grill Room! As somebody pointed out to us, it is very easy to opt for the safe option and visit somewhere that one is familiar with.

We must emphasise a few things. We have no connection with any of the venues visited nor any other for that matter.

We don’t want this to sound ‘snobbish’ but readers should accept that as permanently resident in Greece we may have differing expectations to those holidaying here, however frequently visits are made. Remember! We are not on holiday. This is real life!

There are certain types of tavernas that we never visited in the days when we were holidaymakers. This still applies. I would sooner eat my own arm than visit a taverna/restaurant advertising karaoke or bingo! We haven’t changed our views! A meal, in our opinion, is something to be enjoyed leisurely with good company and good conversation. ‘Horses for courses’ as they say!

I think it fair to say that Roda only really comes to life during the summer as it is very much geared towards travel and tourism. It consists of a main road in from the main Acharavi to Karousades road, a beach front road and several smaller interesting streets emanating through the older part of the town from both.

It has the expected hotels and holiday apartments both ranging in quality to suit most budgets. The visitor can expect all those facilities normally associated with a holiday resort. Eg. Cash machines, vehicle / cycle hire, and travel agencies / exchange offices. Amongst other attractions, horse riding is available.

The beach is sandy, cleaned daily and safe. Sunbed hire is available. There is also a small harbour.

That’s enough about Roda! What about eating out?


Alexandros’ Taverna – Until recently, ‘Smiley’s

Smileys, as it was when we visited, is situated on the seafront on the opposite side of the road from the beach. If you approach from the main road into Roda, follow the seafront for a couple of hundred metres.
As is common at Greek seaside resorts there was a member of the staff outside to try and entice you in. We know that many British find this irritating but it is a way of life in this part of the world. They rarely pester as was the case on this occasion.

There is an upstairs which was open when we visited. We opted to try it out.

We had already decided that we were going to try their budget meals to see just what you could get. There was a €10 menu and a €15 menu both of which offered a choice of either a starter and main course or a main course and dessert. Tricia volunteered to try the cheaper menu and I went for the dearer one mainly because it offered fish.

Tricia started with Tzaziki and pitta. This proved to be an ample portion of tzatziki presented on top of a pita bread. Although it looked okay, she felt it would have been more practical to have had the pitta sliced and served separately. However, the taste was fine. Her choice for main course was for ‘Smiley’s Chicken’ which was advertised as chicken and potatoes. It proved to be exactly that. Despite not being the most attractively presented meal, it was delicious.

I opted to start with a prawn saganaki. Remember, this was a dearer menu. This ultimately proved an interesting choice because shortly afterwards, I was approached by the owner, Alexandros, who explained that they did this dish in two different ways. I should point out that we are unknown there and we definitely looked the part of tourists right down to the camera slung over my shoulder. He explained that I could either have it as a dish of prawns cooked in a red spicy sauce (which is normal) or dipped in flour and fried. Intrigued, I asked for the latter.

When my starter arrived, it was fried prawns. (In the UK they would probably be classed as shrimps. The portion was a good size and they were very tasty but no way was it a saganaki! I have no idea why they did this. I like prawns/shrimps cooked any way and so wasn’t particularly bothered.

I chose sea bass for my main course. When it arrived, it was well cooked and well presented. I enjoyed this meal. It looked appetising and tasted good.

We washed our meals down with half a litre of house red and a Heinekin or two. Neither was overpriced. In fact the beer prices were amongst some of the cheapest that we were to discover in Roda although to be fair, there was not a lot to choose between most tavernas.

They also offered English breakfasts at €2.30 comprising 2 toast, egg, English bacon, English sausage, mushrooms and baked beans. This was served between 8am and 3pm. There was no mention of juice or tea or coffee and so we would expect these to be extra.

We would not normally have gone anywhere near a place called ‘Smiley’s’ but were pleasantly surprised. We had heard rumour that it was shortly to change its name to Alexandros’ Taverna which it has in fact now done. Much more appropriate, not to mention Greek!

It was clean and tidy with linen tablecloths and clean condiments. The staff were courteous which brings us to a point that we feel worth mentioning. We were initially greeted by an English member of staff who was helpful and took our order. We actually don’t like being served by English staff but recognise that many others, perhaps visiting for the first time, find it reassuring. We are not criticising, merely making an observation. Call it one of our many foibles!

Was there room for improvement? Possibly. We did feel that there was a long wait before our first course arrived and between courses. However, in fairness, the owner apologised for the delays without being prompted. We never asked the reason.

This was to prove to be the only place where we were to be offered an inducement to return! We were handed a card offering us ½ litre of house wine free with the next meal there. A nice touch.

So, the only question that remains is, “Was our first experience of budget meals in Roda a good one?”

Yes it was!

We have later discovered that they hold a ‘Greek Night’ some of which we were later to witness during our investigations. It looked a thoroughly ‘fun’ evening.


Roxanne’s Taverna

Roxanne’s is situated both sides of the road along the beach front in Roda. Most will opt to eat next to the beach where children can play and hungry parents can keep an eye on them. It was recommended to us and certainly looked inviting.

We were not accosted outside but that was probably because we walked straight in to be greeted by one of the owners. On this occasion, we spoke a little Greek to the staff but did not immediately mention that we were not tourists.

All of the staff that we dealt with were Greek, efficient and polite. They were eager to answer any queries. For example, we later queried whether they were happy to put tables together to accommodate larger parties. They assured us they would. We would have been surprised if they had said otherwise as this is the norm with most tavernas.

Again, Roxanne’s offers a budget meal but we decided to opt for the ‘a la carte’ menu on this occasion.

A selection of dips were provided which was a nice touch but we felt that there was insufficient bread to accompany them. The dips were excellent though.

Tricia chose keftedakia (meat balls) to start with whilst I opted for the prawn saganaki. I had to get it out of my system! Both were well presented, although Tricia’s keftedakia were definitely not home made. They were tasty nevertheless. My prawn saganaki was excellent and I would definitely order it again.

Then we come to the main courses. I should explain that Tricia loves a well cooked Moussaka but will tell you that she has only ever eaten two in Greece that she thought were any good. You can now make that three! It came up with a salad and was served in the dish in which it had been cooked. It looked good and Tricia is still remarking about how delicious it was.

I spent a little time looking through the extensive menu until I reached the part that mentioned a half kilo sirloin steak for €15! I ignored all Tricia’s comments about diabetes and eyes being bigger than my belly! I had to have it, if only to see whether it was a sirloin and whether they could cook it properly!

I like my steak rare. Not medium. Not medium rare, but rare! It was with some trepidation that I put the order in.

My steak arrived, beautifully presented. It was accompanied by fresh chips, mushrooms, onions and a little salad. It was enormous but looked very inviting. Joy of joys! It was tender and cooked exactly as I had requested. It was so good that I actually asked for the name of their butcher! I wouldn’t have had it under normal circumstances but to be honest, I didn’t think that they would produce a genuine sirloin steak of that size and cooked how I wanted it cooked. How wrong I was! There was no question of us having desserts!

We drank house wine and a couple of beers and the entire bill came to €40.

It is worth mentioning that they have a lunchtime menu that is quite extensive and very reasonable. For lovers of baked potatoes, you would find it difficult to come up with a topping that they couldn’t provide. Again, English breakfasts are served.

We have since returned with family and found it consistent. It was a pleasant experience in a good location.

We consider that this establishment was a real ‘find’. It is slightly off the beaten track but easily found. It was also the first place that we tried away from the beachfront.

To find it, if one is coming from Roda crossroads heading towards the seafront, there is a fork in the road to the right with a bike hire place on the corner. If one takes that fork, Nikos’ Family Taverna is on the left. This road actually goes down to the seafront. Regular visitors will probably remember ‘Maggie’s Restaurant that sadly is no longer there as the proprietors have retired.


 Nikos Family Taverna

Nikos Family Taverna is just that, a family run taverna even down to the 14 year old son, Andreas, waiting on table.

We were met by Andreas’ Mum as we entered. We were greeted in both Greek and English. We automatically replied in Greek! The taverna was clean and tidy and looked inviting.

I have been trying to think of the best way to describe our experience there. It definitely had a very Greek feel to it. I know that might sound daft but it is more what we are used to. Everyone we came into contact with was friendly and was happy to spend time with us. Andreas was particularly customer friendly and was amused to engage us in conversational Greek. It transpired that he was gifted musically, playing bouzouki, piano and tuba. He was very proud of the fact that he was in the Acharavi Philharmonic.

It is worth a little time discussing this aspect of eating out in Greece. An elderly British couple had spotted Andreas’ bouzouki at the back of the taverna and questioned him about it. He did no more than retrieve it, explain a little about it before playing along to the Greek track that was playing on the sound system for them. It is things like that which make holidays memorable … if memory serves me correctly!

Now for the food. We were presented with fresh bread and a selection of dips which although we recognised them were still explained to us! Then out of the blue we were also presented with warm  brouschetta which was excellent.

We ordered stuffed mushrooms and grilled sardines to start with. We were both intrigued to try the Gioulbasi for our main course. This was described as lamb, chicken and sausage with potatoes and cheese baked in the oven in greaseproof paper. It is prepared in a similar manner to Kleftiko, which regular visitors to Greece will be familiar with.

The starters arrived and were both well presented and tasty. I was a little surprised at the stuffed mushrooms as they were presented sitting in an indeterminate sauce. Both the mushrooms and the sauce were very tasty. Trisa’s sardines were perfectly grilled not fried as so often is the case. They too were excellent.

The Gioulbasi arrived and attracted a bit of attention from other diners! Andreas proceeded to open up the enormous packages with a knife before allowing us to get stuck in.

The ‘parcels’ were stuffed full of meat, potatoes and cheese – exactly as had been described on the menu! It was very tasty and an ample portion. Trisa struggled!

All in all, we had a really pleasant evening. The bill was a little over €30 with drinks.

As with most places in Roda, there was a breakfast menu which started at €2.50.

Very Highly recommended.


Petrino’s Steki

Petrino’s Steki can be found on the right on the main road down to the seafront from Roda crossroads. At the time of our visit, it had only been open about a month under the management of the current owner.

It is a reasonably large establishment, both clean and tidy. The staff were Greek and pleasant to speak to. The menu was extensive and what we have come to call ‘a budget menu’ was available should you want it. This is worth mentioning as, although we didn’t choose to go down this route, we saw what some other diners got. For €9 you had a choice of starter, a main course and ice cream or cake for dessert. They did not appear to skimp on the portions. Not bad in this day and age!

Trisa chose grilled garlic mushrooms as a starter and I chose saganaki.

My saganaki was exactly what I had expected and was very nice. Sadly, Trisa was disappointed with her grilled mushrooms simply because they were out of a tin! There is no excuse for this. However, whether a visitor would have picked up on this is a question that we cannot answer.

However, our main courses were very good. Trisa chose lamb in the oven whereas I opted for kleftiko. Both dishes were very good and well presented. When we eventually left, we certainly were not hungry!

We were surprised when we asked for the bill as it seemed too cheap! On checking it we found that they had forgotten to include the ½ kilo of wine that we had! We did the honourable thing and told them! We were presented with freshly cooked loukamades (donuts covered in honey). I apologised that I couldn’t eat them because of the diabetes issue and the young waitress did no more than replace them with glasses of wine!

Whilst we were in the taverna we became aware of an English family of five or six people, including children, who took the table next to us. We were reminded of the times when we were new to Greece and Greek food. They were unsure of what was on the menu but a waiter patiently explained what was what and they were soon enjoying their meal.

This also brought home another thing home to us that we frequently comment on. They had no sooner eaten their meal, had their drinks and were off! They clearly hadn’t embraced the concept of a leisurely meal!

All in all this was yet another reasonably priced meal representing good value at around the €30 mark.


Big Ben’s

Okay! This was a real departure for us! We had decided that we were going to try out one of the many English breakfasts that were on offer just about everywhere. Not only that but we decided that we would try it somewhere where we were unlikely to choose as an eatery! The breakfast advertised at Big Ben’s was amongst one of the larger ones and by now, most will have gathered that I have a large appetite.

We want to try and describe Big Ben’s accurately! I guess that you could say that it has something of an English pub theme going on … loosely! There is nothing very Greek about it other than the owner, Yiannis whom we soon realised was something of a character. (In a nice way!)

It is situated opposite the beach on the seafront and is quite a large establishment. We should point out that there is little traffic and what there is certainly would not be considered a nuisance. The place is decked out with large screen TVs and we are sure that patrons would find it an ideal place to watch sport whilst downing a few drinks in the evening.

There was also a menu offering snacks throughout the day and included specifically vegetarian offerings. We could imagine visitors having a morning on the beach and slipping in for a very reasonable snack at lunchtime. Children were well catered for.

Our breakfasts comprised; two slices of toast and jam; two eggs; two rashers of English style bacon; two English style sausages; hash browns; baked beans and mushrooms. Juice was included but we weren’t sure whether tea or coffee was as we didn’t want either. In the days when I would have thought nothing of sinking several pints in an evening, this was just the sort of breakfast that I would have been looking for!

The cost was €9 for the two breakfasts. Very good value! Be aware that many places offer cheap breakfasts. They are unlikely to be as large and won’t include juice or tea / coffee.

We enjoyed what for us was a departure from our normal routine!


Neo Limani (New Port)

We have visited ‘Neo Limani’  on a number of occasions. We can report that they have maintained their standards.

‘Neo Limani’ is another taverna on the seafront. It is near to the car park that is situated on the eastern end of the beach. There are two easy ways to get to it. Either take the main road to the seafront and turn right before walking east along the seafront or if coming by car from Acharavi, take the road signposted No 1, drive to the end and turn left. It is then necessary to drive along the front, past a hotel until the road bears left. Take the first turning right and follow the road until you get to a bridge on your left. Cross the bridge and you are in the car park. It sounds a bit convoluted but it’s actually not that hard!

This is another of those places where a member of staff will try and entice you in! As we said before, don’t let it put you off. If you decline, for whatever reason, they won’t hassle you. I normally tell them I have a reservation elsewhere or that I am meeting friends!

This is another reasonably large establishment and it was moderately busy on the night that we last visited. However, the staff were not visibly overstretched and there was an air of calm with the service.

We started our meal by ordering marinated gavros and a portion of spetsofai sausage. Both were excellent. The portion of marinated gavros was generous and the spetsofai sausage was not over spicy. Those that have eaten spetsofai before, will be aware that it can vary in spiciness. This was mild compared to many that I have eaten but tasty nevertheless.

For our main courses we both chose Lamb Rigonato. This takes the form of a  roasted lamb shank, with potatoes, mixed veg and rice. It was very tasty and well presented.

We both enjoyed our meals. Again, this wasn’t a budget meal but was not overpriced. Many main courses were priced around the €8.50 mark.


Dimitris Grill Room

Roda, 40981. Corfu
Tel:(+30) 26630 63007

Grill rooms are probably one of the best kept secrets in Greece. They are great places to eat … unless you are a vegetarian!

Dimitris Grill Room can be found on the main road to Roda sea front coming from the traffic lights at the junction with the Karousades to Acharavi main road. You will find it on the right hand side.

Everything is cooked fresh and can be eaten there or ordered to take away. The premises are very modern and kept scrupulously clean. If you are not familiar with grill rooms and fancy something quick, try a pitta gyro. You get lots of chunks of lamb (or chicken) with salad sauce and chips all wrapped in a pitta bread. Gorgeous! Don’t make the mistake of asking for a doner kebab. They are Turkish!

Grill rooms are a great way to eat out and share a few drinks at a very economical price. In our opinion, Dimitris’s is as good as it gets.

Highly recommended for ‘no frills’ dining.


 

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