Coziness, culture and comfort at L ‘arrêt du temp, Athens Greece

by Samantha Bacchus McLeod

L ‘arrêt du temp is quite European in its own way, with just a hint of the traditional Greek. It is French-bistro atmosphere, with a Viennese café kind of vibe.

L ‘arrêt du temps (pause time) is a small French bistrot in the centre of Athens, where they serve up amazing coffees, chocolatey and not, teas and beers, plus the best in Greek wines. The food menu has a scrumptious selection of brunch dishes and delectable desserts, right alongside salads, flatbreads and pasta dishes.

The location is in the popular belt known as the Hilton area, and is just a 20 minutes’ walk from Syntagma. To get from Syntagma to L ‘arrêt du temps, one will be able to visit the many museums along the way. Pay special note to the Museum of Cycladic Art. What I love about the location is that although fairly close to the touristy area, it is most definitely a more graceful part of Athens. It’s also a quiet place where they play mostly jazz and classical music, and some oldies (1980s.)

L ‘arrêt du temp is quite European in its own way, with just a hint of the traditional Greek. It is French-bistro atmosphere, with a Viennese café kind of vibe.

Although this restaurant has been around for decades, it is all new now. The previous owner sold the business and retired to his home-island. The new owners relaunched with their new décor and menu, but kept their wonderful team.

It is not often one hears of this, where staff and customers agree on great food and service and then vote owners out, and run the business the way it should be ran. The bistrot is essentially owned and operated by former employees and one customer-investor. They are known as Andreas and the 2 Dimitris.  

There are more choices on the menu now than with the previous owners. Before it was a typical Greek café, which worked well for those times and for the neighbourhood the way it was then – Greece is more of a café culture where people spend hours drinking coffee.

The new owners wanted to bring their own upscale and updated brand of dining to the establishment. Now, it certainly offers more dishes, as well as brunch, which is a moderately new trend to Greece.

I love brunch, and being Canadian, where brunch is a thing we do all day, every day when possible, I was ecstatic to find L ‘arrêt du temp.  In Greece, it is not easy to find eggs on a menu, this is because Greeks are not big into the big morning breakfast. But they do love to eat so brunch caught on quite well at this bistrot.

“We source mostly local. I mean this is Greece, we have an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables, and meats. We try to have mostly Greek wines, which are gaining a lot of attention. If you are here for a wine, we wouldn’t claim to be a wine bar but we do have a fantastic selection of Greek wines that are outstanding,” said Andreas, one of the owners.

I spent many days at this bistrot in the Ilisia neighbourhood and what I noticed was the clientele. There were always business people having quiet meetings, an accidental tourist or two working their way through the menu, ladies who brunch seem to brunch all day, and professors and PHD students frequent the place too. But mostly, the patrons all seem to be locals, neighbours and friends, and the crème de la crème…industry people from the many hospitality businesses in the neighbourhood.

Morning coffees are best enjoyed here on their patio, evening drinks are also great on the patio. I find, when I sit indoors in their beautifully appointed room, the mouthwatering aromas from the open kitchen leaves me in a constant state of hunger, and one can only go through the entire menu once in a day, at least for appearances sake. The upper floor is usually busy too but it is available for private functions.

A final word from Andreas, “What I have been told is we are very much above average. Others offer some brunch but we are significantly above average according to the chefs’ foray into other establishments.”

I concur, but may I add a small note? the menu is not large but every single item is on point, the food is not only above average, it is a fantastic bistrot taste experience. A combination of coziness culture and comfort at L ‘arrêt du temps, in the Ilisia area of Athens, Greece, describes the place perfectly.

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