Pine Tar & Summer Whites

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Andrea’s View:  I recently finished John Green’s exquisite book The Fault in Our Stars, a book that is set here in Indianapolis.  No, I’m not going to review books now, but one line in the book struck me as particularly appropriate for our most recent food adventure.  Green is describing Spring in Central Indiana and how we react to the first warm days of the season.  The line goes like this:  “We Hoosiers are excessively optimistic about Summer.”  So Dave and I, on the first warm day of the season, set out to Athens on 86th Street dressed in our summer whites.  (Yes, Dave and I have summer whites.  Laugh, joke, mock, whatever.)

When we arrived at the restaurant, we asked if we could sit outside.  The staff said, “I suppose so, but it’s a little dirty.  Let us clean off a table for you.”  I replied, “It’s no dirtier than the patio set we’ve been sitting on at home.”  But the staff swung into action, wiped down a table and chairs, and even put a white tablecloth down for us.  Our very friendly server told us that she was so excited because we were the first patio diners of the season.  It was a beautiful day, and like most restaurant patios in Indianapolis, we had a gorgeous view of a parking lot.  I even mentioned to Dave, “I had my appendix removed right across the street.”  He replied, “Very nice.”

We ordered an appetizer and drinks.  I’ll let Dave describe the appetizer, he’s pretty good at that.  Not to say that I didn’t think it was good, I enjoyed it very much, by my story will take a different path.  I’m actually going to talk about the wine.  I ordered a glass of Greek white wine (the name escapes me) that had the description of being filtered with pine tar resin.  Pine tar resin,  a product with many uses, one being that baseball players put it on their bats for better grip.  And apparently, it is a wine filter.  I could not pass up the opportunity to try pine tar resin wine.  The staff looked sceptical, they even poured me a little taste to see if I really wanted it.  I took a sip, and my mind and palate was blown!  It tasted just like what a Christmas tree smells like.  I told our server, “Yes, I really would like a glass of that.”  She brought out a full glass, and I sipped merrily away.  Dave took a sip and agreed that it was a surprising and delightful wine.  He then said, “You probably shouldn’t be drinking that, you’re allergic to pine.”  He’s right, I’m allergic to pine.  I replied, “It won’t be too bad, I may need a little Benadryl later, but I doubt I’ll require an EpiPen.”  Besides, we were right across the street from the hospital that skillfully removed my appendix, so I wasn’t that concerned.

As for the food, it was pretty good.  I had the lahanodolmades, which is a stuffed cabbage roll with green beans and potatoes.  It was pretty standard Greek fare.  After dinner, Dave and I shared another glass of the pine tar wine and enjoyed the sunshine and warm air.  A few more patrons joined us on the patio.  It was a beautiful evening.  And, I didn’t even need Benadryl.

Dave’s View:  As we walked up to Athens on 86th Street restaurant, there were three servers folding napkins outside on the patio and as we approached they all stopped.  One said, “Wow, you’re all dressed up!”   I was just wearing a white shirt, Andrea on the other hand looked like she just stepped off the New York runway.  Andrea always gets the compliments, I just ride on the coattails.  Andrea then says, “Can we sit on the patio?”  There’s a slight silence and the three servers look at each other.  “It’s  a little bit dirty.” See, I’m a guy, I don’t care, but since Andrea looks like she just stepped off the New York runway, the servers had to make that statement.  The restaurant didn’t want to hear a woman complain about how her white dress got dirty from sitting on patio furniture.  The thing is Andrea and  I, don’t care.  That’s why laundry detergent was invented.  Clothes are meant to get dirty.  Plus, I can always have a laugh later on while walking to the car and seeing the dirty wrought iron ass print on Andrea’s backside of her white dress.  An added bonus for the day.

Andrea and I sit down and then a white table-cloth comes out and blankets our table.  There’s something about being the only people on the patio and a white linen table-cloth.  It’s like you’re majestic.  Like it’s my patio people, stay off of it.   The majesty wore off because in about ten minutes there were three to four patrons enjoying the 70 degree temperatures.  Oh, well, we were king and queen for ten minutes.  Andy Warhol would be proud.

We ordered some drinks.  Andrea decided to order a white wine filtered by pine tar resin.  She asked me, “Should I order this?”  After she tells me the description, all I could think was the dirty nasty filth on a baseball player’s helmet.  That’s pine tar.  It gives batters  a better grip on the bat.  It’s that ooze that comes out of pine trees when the tree is trying to defend itself from enemy insects.  It’s that sticky crap that gets on your hands when you’re picking out a Christmas tree.  And the worse thing is, that crap takes days to get off your hands.  A nuclear bomb couldn’t destroy pine tar resin, it would just thicken it.  But then I took a deep breath and I thought of oak barrels.  Oak barrels are used to basically filter and give taste to wine, why not pine tar resin.  My response to Andrea, “Go right ahead.”  Your face my swell up since you’re allergic to pine, but yeah, go ahead.

It turns out, the wine was fantastic. (I embezzled a half glass while Andrea wasn’t looking.)   I should have dumped my Keo Greek beer and ordered a glass, but I didn’t.  Andrea and I drink a lot of wine and this is the first wine in a long time that was incredible.  We have tasted 90% of all wine wines in the world, but this white wine with pine tar was something that smacked you on the side of head.  Really different and many people in Indiana will not appreciate it.  It’s dry and you’ll be drinking a Christmas tree.  No, I’ve never had Christmas tree wine, but that’s what it tastes like.  Go get it, it’s not cheap, but it’s definitely adventurous.

For the appetizer, we ordered Gigantes, roasted beans in a tomato garlic sauce.  I don’t know what bean it was(I’m not a bean expert), but the beans had a slight spicy kick and were delicious.  For the main entrée I had Yemista.  Yesmista is the greek version of a green pepper stuffed with ground beef.  Unfortunately, the pepper had no taste and the plate started to pool grease from the beef.  It wasn’t a horrible dish, it just lacked any “kick” or orignal ingredient to stand out from the crowd.  On the other hand, the potatoes and green beans sides were incredibly well done.   They both had special ingredients to make them stand out from the crowd.  The potatoes were cook to perfection and the green beans were not over cooked.  Both sides will impress you.

As we were getting to the end of our meal,  I believe the owner came out to inspect their patio tables.  She picked it up and the foot broke off.  She looked at me like, ” How can this happen?”  Well, when you keep your tables out all winter time, salt from the parking lot will eat your table.  To the restaurant:  Bring them in.  They get lonely in the winter time sitting all by themselves,  nobody caring about them,  nobody to talk to.   Then they get dirty,  and Andrea and I have to come by and we have to sacrifice our summer whites for the wrought iron Gods.  So, please, put the patio furniture inside for the winter, so they will not be lonely.  It’s the only dignified thing to do.

Service:  9.5  Food:  7.5  Ambiance:  8   Total:  25 out of 30.

$50-$60 with adult beverages.

Note:  I don’t wear summer whites.  Only Andrea does.
Athens on 86th on Urbanspoon

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