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May 01, 2006

Dinner at Ela

Ela We went for dinner in a restaurant called 'Ela', which is on Kondilaki in the backstreets behind Hania's Venetian harbour. The weather hadn't been great on Saturday, and so we picked it because we didn't think it was warm enough to dine al fresco. Which was ironic, because it turned out that once you go through the front porch and bar area, Ela is housed in the shell of an old Venetian building. So without aiming to, we ended up eating outdoors anyway, in a really lovely location.

Pat & I both had an exquisite dish of roasted lamb in olive oil, whilst Claire had Mousaka which was introduced as "the best in the whole town". We later overheard the proprietor introducing another dish as "the best in the whole world". For dessert we were given complimentary ice cream with cream and chocolate sauce, and the obligatory raki.

The only thing that spoiled the ambience slightly was a large group of people near us. They weren't a problem themselves, but one of the women from the table kept trying to take group photographs. In order to get everyone in shot she kept having to walk back from the table, practically into my lap without so much as a by-your-leave. I kept making sure my elbows were digging into her butt as she tried to get everyone to pose, but she didn't seem to get the hint and came back three or four times whilst I was trying to eat.

Another strange thing happened. I looked up and saw a table of people in the far corner. "Is that the guy we saw in the restaurant on Thursday" I asked Claire. "No, I don't think so" she said. She nearly told her mum the whole story about these people from the restaurant we went to on Thursday, but for some reason bit her tongue. Just as well, for about five minutes later we realised that the people we had been talking about were actually sitting next to us!

They are a forty-something son and his late-sixtysomething mother. When we saw them before she was causing a right fuss in the restaurant - "That's black. That's not lamb. I'm not eating that" whilst her son patiently tried to come her down and at least convince her to try the food. He looked absolutely mortified, but you couldn't help feeling that her gruffness and awkwardness had the air of pre-senility about it.

The last weird thing was taking a trip up to the toilets in Ela. You went inside to a bit of the building that was still intact, and what a change of atmosphere. It was set out as another part of the restaurant, but instead of the cool white-washed walls with old bottles and trinkets that served for decoration downstairs, it was covered in gaudy murals. On one wall they depicted an overly buxom mermaid enticing a lecherous looking old man from his fishing boat, and on another wall there were scenes of what looked like the chasing and lynching of a hooded man by some villagers. Very odd indeed.

We loved it though. Ela is well recommended in the guide books, and we could understand why - definitely on our list of places to dine again.

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