Last updated on March 26th, 2018
Serbetia at Psiri is my ultimate Cafe-Dessert place
Roaming around Athens city centre should be on every visitor’s list. This is how I ultimately find new places to explore. Although I have lived here, I always enjoy exploring because I know Athens never disappoints me. This is how I stumbled upon Serbetia at Psiri. A true Oasis for those addicted to sweets, at the centre of one of the most happening areas of central Athens.
Just off the main square of Psiri, (see map-bottom of page), you will find Serbetia at Psiri, (‘Τα Σερμπέτια στου Ψυρρή‘ in Greek). Its exterior has a welcoming atmosphere that connects the present with the past. A typical Greek setting, with cast iron round tables and wooden chairs. Comfortable pillows, inviting you to sit and enjoy your coffee and delicious dessert. It is the perfect place to do some people watching while indulging in some strong coffee. You should not miss this place after a great meal around the corner.
The kind of place where you can end a perfect evening with a sweet dose of guilt-free dessert.
Their menu has a huge variety of sweets. You can enjoy all-time classics, such as Cheesecake with various flavours, Tiramisu and Carrot cake. Experiment with flavours originating from the east such as ‘Bougatsa Constantinople’ and for those that have a hard time deciding, the helpful and very knowledgeable staff will tailor to your culinary taste buds with a mixture of sweets and ice cream.
They will take their time and find out what flavours you enjoy the most and depending on the number of people in your party, they will present you with the ‘Platter of Sins’.
This is what I called this on our last visit there. It was a perfect mixture of tastes that we all enjoyed, accompanied by mouth-watering ice cream. There is nothing better than diving into a sweet abyss with those you love. Sharing sweet tastes that are good for the soul and literally make all your troubles go away. Trust me, your day will evolve a lot better after indulging in the Platter of Sins.
If you have a hard time deciding what to order, a visit inside the store will certainly help you. Two different displays of sweets will challenge your resistance levels here. If this is not enough to test your desires, the staff will explain in scrumptious detail the tastes and ingredients used in any dessert that may flirt with your taste pallet.
Serbetia at Psiri has three different rooms that you can choose from for the cold winter days
The third room is a new addition on the 1st floor of the main room and adjacent to the actual workshop. This is where I met with Maria, the owner and daughter of the founders, (Aliki and Andonis), of Serbetia at Psiri on my last visit there. She is responsible for all the delicacies that have made this place famous over the past 20 years. With a small team of 2 helpers, she puts her heart and soul into every dessert she makes on a daily basis.
I watched Maria in action in her workshop, and our casual conversation went like this:
So when and how did Serbetia at Psiri start?
Maria: My parents put this place together, back in 1997. My father’s roots are in this area of historical Psiri. My brother and I worked alongside as a family business, helping them during holidays. We started it as a cafe and back then we had only 5 different desserts on our menu. This number greatly increased throughout the years and we now proudly offer between 45-50 different desserts.
How did you decide to become a Confectioner?
Maria: I actually studied German Language and worked for many years as a teacher in schools. Despite my full-time job, I never missed a weekend or holiday season working here. I used to be in charge of the morning shift for about 17 years while my parents were still in charge of Serbetia at Psiri. During that time I always had a keen eye to learn the tricks and skills of the trade. My mother and our helper, (who is still with us), were great teachers and mentors and I managed to learn most skills and processes through them. Since my parents’ retirement 3 years ago, we took over the store and my full-time journey as a confectioner began.
What about your family connection with Constantinople and the gastronomic influences from there?
Maria: Our direct connection stems from my grandfather and his family who lived there.There are some family portraits from that era that you can also see in our shop downstairs. My grandfather first moved to Constantinople, (today’s Istanbul), because of my grandmother. The influence of the area in our desserts is evident. However, in this trade, you have to really like experimenting and trying different recipe variations. We fused that influence with my husband, (Andreas) when we took over the store 3 years ago and moved it to the next level. We never stopped seeking perfection in our recipes and figuring out what works best for our loyal customers.
What does ‘Serbetia’ actually mean?
Maria: The word ‘Serbetia’ comes from the word ‘Serbet’, which means something sweet, like the syrup. It’s not uncommon for young lovers to be in ‘Serbetia’ mood, full of love and sweetness. It only makes sense that we called this place ‘Serbetia at Psiri’.
What is your ideal customer?
Maria: I like customers who come here to experiment with different tastes. You should definitely try
- Ekmek Politico with kaimaki from Buffalo milk
- Kiunefeh with kaimaki from Buffalo milk
Of course, anyone can try desserts that are more known and popular, (like cheesecakes, kataifi, etc.). This is why we do have such an extensive menu after all.
How do you cope and manage with such an extensive menu?
Maria: We work 7 days a week, 365 days per year. We never keep our desserts for days on end but replenish them daily. Our aim is to always have fresh sweets with flavours that are kept to their maximum. This is the reason I come here every single day. With the help of my staff, we prepare desserts to make you happy and keep you coming back!
Throughout our chat, Maria kept preparing a storm of delicious looking desserts; multi-tasking at its maximum, showing off her skills as a Confectioner and never stopped impressing me.