When I went to Mani Mani for the first time a few years back, I thought that it was a good idea but not well executed. The food was overpriced, there was too much oil and the service was a bit pretentious.
A while ago, I read somewhere that they started to offer half-portions for lunchtime and a friend told me that the food has become delicious and their prices got better. Additionally, the reviews showed that what I heard and read was true so I was looking for a chance to go and try it again.
The chance came after a long day full of fun and shopping and laughing all around downtown Athens. It was hot, we were tired, we were hungry... Mani Mani was calling our names and we heard the calling.
It was late afternoon when we arrived, the restaurant was half-empty, there was a light breeze coming from the windows and the light was paying the best compliment to the space.
As soon as we sat down, we got bread and olives in plenty of olive oil; good way to start!
The half portions would give as the chance to do a testing menu, so we opted for them with the exception of one dish that wasn't available in half portion. We chose the green salad with katiki cheese (traditional Greek cream cheese), homemade ravioli with vegetables, feta and tomato sauce, pies with cheese and pastourma (spicy cured ham), steamed mussels with fennel and lemongrass, traditional pasta with fried grated cheese and fried egg, (that was the full portion) traditional pasta with Greek truffles and pork, meatballs with smoked aubergines and lentils with cured ham and orange sauce.
All the above, with a bottle of beer and 3 large bottles of water were 49 euros. Not too bad for 3 people who left the restaurant more than full and happy!
The service was very good. Kind and prompt but subtle, quick and efficient. The food was great. The pastas were cooked al dente (pasta is the weakness of many restaurants in Greece) so were the lentils. The salad was lighter than air, the pies were crispy (if they were fried, there was no sign of oil), the mussels were fresh and their sauce was oh-so-velvety and the meatballs were crispy and soft at the same time. My only objection was the amount of the oil (or was it butter) used to fry the grated cheese in the pasta with egg but it is the normal for that recipe so I won't complain.
Bottom line, it was an excellent meal. Mani Mani gets the perfect 10 from me. It is as it should be from the beginning, a good idea well executed. Being so close to the radio station I work at once a week, I will definitely go back again and again. I can't wait for another tasting menu of half portions and a full one: the slow cooked pork belly that I missed seeing (and ordering) this time.