Whitewashed villages with contrasting marine-blue doors and windows replicating the surrounding sea feature on most postcards from Greece’s southern islands. It’s rather more unusual to see such a replica inside a restaurant on the Danube embankment, and one could accuse Taverna Dionysos of being cheaply stereotypical in advertising its Greekness.
But the smooth curves of the clean white walls and the deep-blue wooden frames turning red or green in some parts, the (barren) vine running by the door, the Poseidon head-shaped spout feeding a perpetual water basin and the small tables neatly arranged with light blue and white checkered tablecloths manage to create a light and relaxed feel while avoiding the tacky.
Rooms above and below the main floor are more simply decorated but keep the same white, sunlit quality. The light background music mixing traditional and modern tunes is unobtrusive. The staff, smiling and pleasant, seems willing to provide explanations for the items on the menu and translations of the Hellenic proverbs inscribed on the walls.
Unlike the geographically identifiable wall decorations, the lengthy menu does not present a regionally specific cuisine and is rather a compilation of a lot of what one can think of when referring to Greek food in general.
The range of starters is very appetising, making the question of choice a thorny one. One way of avoiding a dilemma is to go for a mixed platter where sharing is encouraged.
The cold dish of fried aubergines and peppers is juicy, fresh and delicious and a personal favourite, but the tzatziki (left), the two different types of feta, the aubergine cream and the cold mash of potato and garlic (creamy and well seasoned, and much less odd than it sounds) all make for a good start with the accompaniment of the fresh, yeasty flat bread.
The choice can also extend to meat- or fish-based starters, such as the calamari rings fried in very thin batter or the large shrimps (tender but not chewy) served in garlic butter with a side of fried rice, salad leaves, tomato and wedges of lemon (below).
Kotopoulo saganaki (above) comes as two dishes, one a bowl of pilaf rice, a little crunchy and dotted with a very few bits of onion, the other an oven pot containing cubes of soft chicken breast and chunks of feta in a sauce seasoned with olive oil, oregano and coriander. A top layer of melted kefalo cheese interrupted by a couple of cooked tomato wedges rounds out the whole. It’s tasty but it does make for a rather heavy dish.
The Mediterranean salad (below) is lighter though plentiful, a large bowl filled with a variety of salads (ruccola, Romaine lettuce, lamb’s lettuce), bean sprouts, carrot slices, celery, onion, tomato, olives and grated cheese drizzled with a lemony dressing and served with black and white sesame seed-dotted crackers.
For those with a sweet tooth and a large appetite, saragli comes as a helping of strudel-like thin, crispy and tightly folded pastry, filled with ground walnut and flavourful honey with an extra sprinkle of sliced almonds. In itself it’s delicious and doesn’t need the scoop of average-quality vanilla ice-cream.
The latter is perhaps the only downside of a pleasant and attractively priced lunch meal served with a genuine smile in a relaxed environment.
Starters: HUF 540-2,890
Mains: HUF 2,520-11,990
Salads: HUF 980-3,790
Desserts: HUF 770-1,150
District V, Belgrád rakpart 16
Open daily 12noon-midnight
Tel. (+36-1) 318-1222