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July 2000

Gyro Scope

Rustic or chic, Munich offers great Greek

Kaiserstr. 55 Tel. (089) 33 35 80 Hours: daily 12:00-01:00

If you cannot afford that dream vacation to Greece this year, you needn’t be too upset. Munich is home to many affordable restaurants that re-create the warm and lively atmosphere for which that country is so famous. In good tavernas guests become, for a few hours, part of the family. One such place is the Simera, a corner restaurant in Schwabing. The lofty interior, with its row of white columns and a ceiling painted in aquamarine, creates an atmosphere of water and sea. Here, Petros Daoutis and his team serve traditional Greek food with a twist, in portions that will satisfy the most insatiable appetite.

The Tsatsiki (DM 6.50), a traditional starter made from yogurt, garlic and cucumber, is freshly prepared. However, while the garlic is perfectly dosed, the dill seems an unnecessary addition. A rather more unusual and delicious starter is the warm goat’s cheese served on a bed of loose leaf lettuce (DM 14.50). Main courses include numerous fish and lamb dishes. Gyros comes with more Tsatsiki and a salad (DM 16.50). The meat is juicy and lean, and is topped with slightly too generous amounts of oregano. On the fish side, the delectable grilled loup de mer (DM 25.50) can be filleted for you at your table by a friendly member of the wait staff.

Those interested in local politics are in good company at Simera: the taverna is also one of the favorite haunts of Munich Mayor Christian Ude. He, too, seems to have been seduced by the quality of food and friendly, efficient service.

Theresienstr. 17 Tel. (089) 289 96 689 Hours: daily 17:00-01:00

When hearing the words “Greek restaurant” most people think of rustic wooden tables and wicker chairs in whitewashed rooms, generous portions of Tsatsiki and stuffed grape leaves, as well as endless variations on the theme of grilled food. Kapari is all this — and much more. Its rustic interior adds an artistic touch thanks to a shelved back wall reminiscent of a Dan Flavin neon-light sculpture: the tiers are filled with multicolored bottles dramatically lit from behind. To the endless Greek sitar tunes played in most tavernas Kapari adds funky jazz music.

A first glance at the menu might make you think you have ended up in the wrong restaurant. Dishes that you would normally expect in a Bavarian establishment, such as white asparagus with spring vegetables (DM 18.60) or oven-baked pork with potatoes (DM 21.90), are part of the daily menu at Kapari. However, the spices remain typically Greek: the pork is spiced with oregano, while the asparagus is served with a tarragon sauce. The menu is equally strong with more traditional fare. But before you can delve into your chosen starters, you may be served a cold octopus salad on the house. Cold starters include eggplant salad, lentil salad, olive paste and tarama, a fish roe paste that has a white color here, rather than the pink version served in many places (DM 4 for each or DM 14.60 for a mixed platter). A mild garlic purée tastes rather like garlicky mashed potatoes, while the whipped goat cheese is too runny to spread.

The warm starters are mouthwatering and may suffice both in taste and in size as a main course for lighter eaters. The menu changes daily. Included during our visit was a scampi dish in a tomato and goat cheese sauce (DM 14.90). The use of ripe garden tomatoes, instead of tasteless hothouse varieties, make this a superior entree. The Kefalograviera cheese baked in the oven with tomatoes and red bell pepper (DM 11.40) was rather dull and rendered unappetizing, with its incorporation of overpoweringly large chunks of onion. The quail, on the other hand, was absolutely wonderful. It came boned on a thick layer of garlic-infused chick pea purée topped with snow peas. The peas had been marinated in vinegar and provided a nice contrast to the slightly sweet taste of the fried quail.

If you make it to the main courses, the choices include numerous grilled fish dishes, such as swordfish with wild rice (DM 28.90). Rabbit is also often included on the menu.

Kapari is what you might call a sophisticated Greek restaurant. If you wish to part with the typical holiday image of Greek cooking, this is the place to go. You will discover a varied and creative cuisine where you might never have expected it.

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