It takes a certain courage to open a vegetarian restaurant in this carnivorous city and even more courage to do so in times of severe belt tightening, on a street, nonetheless, where the shops around have shut down, victims of the financial plague. Avocado’s owners did it though, right in the heart of Syntagma, on Nikis Street.

Avocado has a pared down design, characterized mainly by light wood seats and tables and a Spartan, but friendly, feel. The food is a potpourri of vegetarian dishes inspired by international cuisine, from guacamole (a little on the bland side for this chile-loving palate) to vegan sugar-free apple pie.

We went for lunch and sampled just a few things. The guacamole, for example, was bland, missing in the complex spices and heat of a true Mexican avocado puree. We passed up Flora’s carrot patties for the falafel, only to be disappointed in what arrived: fritters as solid as stones, flavorless fresh tomatoes that were too coarsely chopped to be spooned comfortable over the patties, a tahini sauce that needed more flavor, too, and, finally, pita without pockets, so you couldn’t really assemble this classic sandwich. Another dish, “fried” rice with vegetables and mango chutney, was flavorful but not…fried!

OK, so I am being harsh, especially in these times, when restaurant operators are really suffering. I do love the idea of a vegetarian restaurant in the capital of a country that has one of the foremost vegetarian repertoires in the world. I don’t mind the international cocktail of dishes, whichinclude dahl (Indian lentils), bagels, fettucine with four cheeses, and wheat-free spanakopita. I just wish there was more skill turning out those dishes. The riches of the garden, Mediterranean or otherwise, can be truly divine when done right.

Nikis 30, Syntagma

Tel: 210 323 7878

Prices: 10-20 euro a person

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