A mere twenty minute drive away from central Athens lies the port of Piraeus – a town that thinks it’s independent but in reality acts as a satellite suburb of Greater Athens. With a long history stretching back to classical times as the chief port for the Golden Age of Athens, Piraeus as a town has gone through many ups and downs.
At the moment, it’s in a Renaissance period of relative prosperity. Chinese cargo ships anchor at Piraeus as their gateway to the European market, cruise ships with thousands of foreign tourists dock in its harbour every day, old warehouses have been turned into hip clubs and bars for the young and cool Athens crowd, and local families stroll along kilometres of harbourside paths to enjoy the fresh breeze of the Aegean sea.
We joined the local crowds one sunny Sunday afternoon (20 degrees in winter!) and strolled for a while along the harbour before turning into the nearest cafe for a quick and casual lunch. This was actually one of the few establishments on the Marina Zeas that actually offered a minimal food menu – most places are coffee and cocktail bars where locals linger on the outside patio for hours sipping a single drink. FloCafe at least offered a dozen sandwich and salad options for their customers alongside an extensive drinks menu.
Needing some cool refreshment after the absurdly warm winter’s stroll, we ordered a cold drink each – a Freddocino for K, and a house-named Floshake Mandarin for me. A Freddocino is not dissimilar to a iced frappe but in this case, with the addition of a little bit of chocolate powder to soften the bitterness of the coffee – very drinkable on a warm afternoon.
My Floshake Mandarin was very sweet and refreshing – I only wish they hadn’t advertised it ‘with brownie pieces’. Chocolate sprinkles do not equal brownie pieces! I’d been hoping for a chocolate orange jaffa style of smoothie drink – this was anything but. If they had simply described it as a mandarin sorbet smoothie, I’d have been much more satisfied – as it was, I felt like I’d been lied to!
First rule of thumb when ordering off a sandwich-only menu – always order the Club Sandwich if it’s on offer. For me, it’s all about the variety in the sandwich, with (usually) chicken, bacon, lettuce and tomato, sauces, maybe some slices of cucumber, definitely some cheese…it basically ticks off all the food groups.
The chicken club at FloCafe was a little bit uneven in bits, with a chicken fillet that didn’t quite cover all four corners of the sandwich. The tomato and lettuce was extremely fresh though, and the turkey slices helped to make it slightly healthier than the usual bacon variety. With some plain potato chips/crisps on the side (curiously served with ketchup and sour cream, as though you were supposed to dip the chips in the sauces), it was quite a filling meal, and good value.
We also ordered a sandwich off the vegan menu – a Baguette with Vegetable Kebab. Vegan food is hard to find in Greece…and well, this explains why. The kebab was like a Quorn faux-chicken tender, but very limp and not as crunchy and crispy as it could have been. With nothing but lettuce in a soft white baguette, it made for an awfully plain sandwich without much to recommend it.
There’s not much to FloCafe, other than the fact that it’s one of the few places in a 1km stretch of the Piraeus waterfront that offers more than coffees and cocktails. If you can hold onto your hunger and walk a kilometre and a half down the waterfront back towards Athens, there’s a half dozen or more restaurants serving proper food that you can choose from. However if you’re just after a sandwich to go with your Greek coffee as you wile away hours of a sunny afternoon, FloCafe will do the job.
FloCafe is located on Marina Zeas in Piraeus (Athens), but has multiple other locations elsewhere in Greece. Check their website for more details.