Today is the day that Greece entered WWII, when it denied free passage to Mussolini's fascist Italian army (October 28, 1940) and then successfully repelled a military invasion. This is often referred to as "the NO anniversary" (i epeteios tu OHI). Unlike other European countries, Greece does not celebrate the end of WWII or even the withdrawal of the Nazi German army from Greece (they had to come in and do the job that Mussolini couldn't) but the day of its attack and refusal to surrender.
Some of us are starting to see this as a sign of a culture of victimization, insularity and conservativeness. "Foreigners attacking the country" is a popular motive for interpreting all sorts of political events up to this day, and if you've lived here for some time you are sure to have been fed a good share of it.

On a personal level...
This month, after having heard about 2,500 NOs in the past year from my 2-year old, I've heard some occasional (4 or 5) YESes! You can call it a sign of maturing...

Many of us have decided to say a different kind of "no", or rather "no more". On Saturday noon, we went to a photographic store to have our pictures taken for the US Diversity Visa Lottery... There must be about 500 photography stores throughout this city. Right before us, there was another family who were there for the exact same reason...

This blog will continue for at least the next year and a half - possibly much longer than that, even from a distance.

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Vlassis: a 30-year old restaurant tradition that still delivers

Address – Area: 15 Maiandrou St., [Ilissia neighborhood] Athens,
Tel: 210-72.56.335
Last Visits: Sep. 2010, Apr. 2013, Sep. 2013
Cuisine: Greek; some hints of orient and various fish options, when available
Overall Opinion: Positive / room for improvement in service and prices.
Methods of payment: cash only
Working hours: Mon-Sat, 1:00pm - 00:30am. Sun: 1:00pm – 5:00pm
Website: http://www.vlassisrestaurant.gr/
Accessibility: 1-2 small stairs to the tables' level; WC is downstairs, non-accessible.

Vlassis is tucked in a pedestrian road parallel to Michalakopoulou St., and right across the Crowne Plaza Hotel, hidden behind a mini, narrow park. You can be seated in three separate areas: At the sidewalk in front of the park, at the patio right outside the restaurant’s window and indoors. The indoor hall has large window panels for an unobstructed view outside and two of the three walls have posters from older theater and film productions. There are about 30 tables overall. This is the 3rd different location of Vlassis in its more than 30 years (and two generations) of operation.

This obviously says something about the quality of food served here. You can't stay in business that long without doing something good. I've never had something I didn't like here and quite often I've been thrilled with the food.
Appetizers cost around 5-10 Euros while main courses start from 10-11Euros.  We've had a phenomenal stuffed squid (yemisto kalamari) here, full of fresh sea-smell, tenderness and juices. I've also made a note of the eggplant (and potato?) purée accompanying the tas-kebab, which had an exotic cinnamon-tomato flavor and was very tender. The beef in the pastitsada could have been a bit more tender. Every time I've had fish here it's been absolutely fresh, tasty and well-grilled. I've also very much liked the Athinaiki salad, which is of the "Macedonian/Russian" or "potato-salad" variety: White Grouper fish in a thick, mayonnaise based sauce and greens.
From past evenings, I remember a waiter coming out with a large platter full of mezedes (appetizers) so you can pick whatever suits your fancy and then order the main dishes, without feeling hungry during the waiting. I'm not sure if they still do that but I liked the concept.

Indicative orders (for 2 persons)
1 stuffed squid
1 fava beans purée
1 dolmades w/ vine leaves
1 Athinaiki salad w/ white grouper fish
1 tas-kebab [beef accompanied with eggplant (and potato?) purée]
1 White Grouper fish (sfyrida)
1 pastitsada (beef cooked in tomato sauce accompanied by penne pasta)
1 Seabream fish (sargos)
1 1 lt-bottle of water
1 bottled water
½ lt of red house wine
2 cans of Coke
2 bread
2 bread
Price: 52.95€ (9/2010)
Price: 61.20€ (9/2013)

Drink-wise, there's an interesting wine list of about 40 Greek wines and a house wine that is unusually decent. There's a limited selection of the usual mass lagers and a couple of ouzo / tsipouro offerings.

The service is fast but let’s just say that not everybody from the personnel seems to be aware of the concept of smiling… Also, make sure you ask for the menu and prices, especially of fish, because it's not always readily available and fish prices are per kilogram so you may be in for a surprise if you don't do that.

Location / Getting there: Right across the street from Crowne Plaza – Athens City Centre Hotel, which itself is located at 50 Michalakopoulou St. This is much easier to spot than the narrow Maiandrou St. where Vlassis is located.
The closest Metro Station is Megaro Mousikis on Line 3. Getting out of the station, from the side of Aiginitio / Alexandras Hospital take Dionysiou Aiginitou St. and turn right, after 3 blocks, on Meandrou St.
Buses 3, 7, 8, 13, 220, 608, 225 also reach nearby bus stops at either Vasilissis Sofias Ave. (Ilissia bus stop) or Michalakopoulou street (Ag. Haralambos bus stop).

See map of Athens restaurants at the bottom of this page. 

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