Cafe Ferlucci Villeray — Overhyped Hole in the Wall

I had a meeting with my new editor and she told me of a marvelous boutique cafe in Villeray. I looked at the website and saw rave reviews and how it was cozy and for all, and how Italian it was but with a twist. What got me was the “boutique” part of it.

I’d first fallen upon a boutique cafe over a decade ago on the world’s most captivating island —Manhattan, where else? I had decided to stay at a boutique hotel in Chelsea. It all made so much sense. You get this faux hipster feeling while feeling like you’ve achieved something higher than the average Joe just by understanding what a boutique hotel was. A boutique cafe is something different, artsy, postmodern. You know.

As I finally managed to see the entrance, I walked in. There was 20-year-old postmodern mood music playing. Boutique? Not really. The young lady at the cash looked at me and turned away quickly. I verified I wasn’t asked and went and found my editor in an adjoining room.

The main room looks somewhat normal. Passable, anyway.

This is the most attractive area of the cafe, which is where I was ignored by aforementioned lady.

The first room has very few tables. It feels very run-of-the-mill. The most unattractive part is the paper napkin case from 1970s diners, napkin cases that belong with those old quarter-for 1 song jukeboxes. No jukeboxes here. Mr. Ferlucci, or whatever your name is, a small table jukebox, even a non-functional one, would be boutique-like. There were two female university students sitting on chairs facing outside. They had their computers on a one-piece table. That looked fine, at least.

Would you sit at this table for longer than you needed to? There’s the napkin holder along with a matching ugly sugar holder. Maybe the sugar being brown makes it boutique-style? I’m trying, reader. I’m trying. I can’t help but feel like I need to eat a cheap greasy burger. But I digress.

My editor was having an Americano. Ergo, she knows nothing about coffee. I felt like ordering a cortado, but I decided to make it easy and order a double cappuccino. I started being treated well when they saw me sitting with my editor.

The cappuccino was good, but nothing to make a special stop in this hole in the wall for. The desserts, I tried three, were above average. Again, nothing like the reviews. The crowd consists mostly of female university students who are studying silently. Then you have these artsy types who are having serious discussions about something. They are more my age.

The way I would describe this would be retro-diner. Nothing artsy about it. Nothing boutique about it. It is a highly exclusive place the would make a first-time outsider feel very unwelcome.

Atmosphere: 6/10

Food: 7/10

Coffee: 8/10

Service: 5/10

Methoni — The Overlooked Upper Road (Πάνω Δρόμος)

Methoni, the town where I grew up, has grown into a primo vacay destination. So much so, that I’ve overlooked some pics I took of places because, frankly, there were just too many to choose from.

Take the above, for example. Zoom on in and you’ll see a cute menu catered for tourists. It’s mostly a local winter or low- and off-season staple. Then again, off-season is the time to go. Even pre-season of May-June is great. My favourite time is post-season of mid-September to early November, where you can enjoy all the amenities at bargain prices and temperate weather (as opposedto the 52-degree Celsius feel of Juky and August. The water will have few swimmers and you’ll be sure to eat without a reservation. Even though most restaurants are closed in the winter, pre- and post-season finds almost all of them open. And you’ll be treated like a king.

Although he deserves a separate article, and will get one soon, Andreas runs a great place. The owner of an organic olive orchard, Andreas Diles has the liveliest place away from the beach. In the evening, the main Methoni street, made of mostly cobblestone, is closed to traffic. Mind you, there are only two streets long enough to traverse the whole town. This is the “upper” street where the “market” is. In relaxing wooden chairs and old-school tables, Andreas and his wife, introduced as a chef from Poland, offer sumptuous nouveau-Greek cuisine. Or is it fusion. You have the old favourites your Greek grandm used to make but with an Eastern European twist. I never knew how many different versions and name ratatouille really had. When asked if this was ratatouille, Andreas says “I can’t say if is, since our version is a lot better”. It’s this proud spirit and Andreas’s constant interaction with the tourists taht makes this an unbelievable dining experience.

With its colourful non-matching chairs, “το καφέ της Φιλιως” or Filio’s Cafe, is a hit with the locals. A traditional coffee shop in the morning (above), quiet WiFi and contemplation spot in the afternoon (although the owner will try to outdo herself to make sure you’re continuously comfortable), and bar at night, there’s always something going on here. This is a surprising hotspot to meet people.

There you go. And not a beach in sight. It’s about a 10-minute leisurely walk away.