Our second destination of our restaurant exploring adventures was Aris Souvlaki- the legendary Greek eatery that’s decorated Sea Point Main Road since before I arrived here.
I’d survived the burping incident after the 1st restaurant. (See the previous blog post), but I was told in no uncertain terms that it would be the first and last time it ever happened. Now every burp, while Helene’s with me, gets quickly swallowed. This doesn’t help my new found flatulence problem with even my friends mentioning that I have a distinct aroma constantly hanging over me and the invites to join them for beer definitely on the slide. But hey…a small price to pay for love.
I finished Grade 11 and 12 at Sea Point High – the best 5 years of my life. It was in a time when 10 bucks could get you much more than a half hour parking in the city, like today. 10 bucks back then got you a couple of beers at the King’s Hotel or a famous Ari’s Souvlaki, lamb Shwarma followed with a full week of garlic breath, or best described as a green fog that oozed from every pore. It was only the unsuspecting fellow passengers on the bus ride home – after school, who’s Brylcreem melted, and make-up ran, after experiencing the fuming wrath of a full-blown garlic-laden Tzatziki burb, unleashed like only a 17-year-old could be surrounded by mates from an all boy’s school. Charming we weren’t and now I realise why I was single most of my teenage years.
This I didn’t mention to Helene as we discussed dates and times for the next venture. As week two gave us a new found confidence and familiarity and noting the dated stories about our affordable eatery Helene decided that this was the time to change the rules slightly and add a bit of a theme – a dress code was mentioned. I thought of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” as a little cross dressing never hurt anyone but Helene has a pair of red, suede stilettos, distinctly 80’s which she’d been dying to wear so she suggested an 80’s theme. She won.
Besides the tight fitting “little black number,” partnered with the pair of red, heeled stilettos – dateless, but decidedly “Back to the Future-esque,” everything fitted and looked perfect. Helene looked great too!
As we stepped over the threshold of Ari’s entrance – we time-travelled into the past tense. Excited kitchen on the left and a few subdued tables and a booth on the right it felt like floating into someone’s house, in Greece – before cell phones were invented. It’s not modern but it’s definitely homely. We took the stairway to heaven option which led upstairs, around a corner and into space where one would expect Zorba the Greek and the Old Man and his dog, slumped over a wooden table – arguing about austerity measures and tackling the last gulp of Ouzo floating in a bottle. A bearded musician strumming a guitar, in the corner, wouldn’t be out of place. If this was heaven I’d be happy to retire here…if I wasn’t such a sinner of course!
The small balcony was occupied so we planted ourselves right in the middle of the room. The table of 3 opposite us and the one patron to the right of us did look up from whatever – if just for a glimpse of the little black dress and the shiny red- stilettos. They gave Helene an admiring once over too.
Dated pictures clutched the walls, fake vineyard leaves grasped the ceilings, and the doily cloth curtains masked the windows – making it feel as if we were confused in time – long before interior decorators existed.Love children from the 60’s, Rockers from the 70’s, Yuppies from the 80’s, Art Critics from the 90’s and current Millennials wouldn’t be out of place here, it was exactly as it was meant to be – oozing ease. With the street sounds – hooting, laughing, shouting and banging, underneath the small balcony, floating through the spreaded doors and into the intimate dining room, made dancing on the tables – liquored to the hilt, or playing chess or cards in the corner, or sneakily making out with a lover, all the norm. Nothing would have been out of place. This is where you could be exactly as you wanted to be.
The vegetarian platter we ordered was placed before us very shortly after we’d let the very attentive waiter know what we wanted. He blended into the corner of the intimate room – eagerly monitoring if a glass needed re-filling or a dish replaced. He was very good, spy-like! Not much was said as we eagerly dipped torn shreds of pita bread into the hummus, tzatziki and taramasalata.
Besides the gracious groaning of each memorable mouthful, no sounds came out of our mouths while we munched on the moist falafel balls and the sumptuous dolmades. This was Greek food at it’s simple best. Keeping to my word and fear of being lover-less no burp passed my lips but Helene did mention the fleeting odd smell that floated over us. “Probably just a garbage truck moving along Main Rd,” I lied.
The shared piece of Baklava, accompanied with thick Greek coffee was greeted with hmms and aahs of appreciation. The sugar and caffeine rush almost resulted in us tossing plates all over the place, but we decided to leave quietly instead.
To describe the experience in 4 words…Otherworldly, we loved it!