Sunday, November 12, 2006

Shop of the Week - Danas

Danas opened in 1962 and for forty years was run as a specialty Greek delicatessen by Agatha and Dimitrious Danas. They raised their four children here, living in the apartment above the shop. When I first moved to Marrickville in 2000 this was my local for fetta, olives, taramasalata and dolmades. My only problem with the area was that there was nowhere really close by for coffee - I had to walk up to the Post Cafe on Marrickville Rd, which despite its many awards I find a bit impersonal. So I was really pleased when I heard in 2003 that Agatha and Dimitrious' two daughters, Tina and Olga, were planning to renovate the shop and turn it into a cafe. However, I was a bit sad about losing the deli.

I've ended up with both cafe and deli. With some clever interior design the deli remains intact in the back half of the shop while the front has become a charming cafe space. The girls didn't go for anything trendy or slick in the redesign - instead there's lots of Fedeterranean blue - including the crockery - and Greek flags and posters.

Dimitrious still looks after all the fettas, olives, oils and other Greek specialty lines. He also distills his own vinegar and red wine from fruit he grows on vines in the backyard. "I get a lot of pleasure from making the vinegar" he tells me, "looking after it, watching it ferment. It's a natural medicine - it reduces cholesterol and clears the veins." I left there yesterday morning bearing gifts from him - a bottle of his homemade red wine and one of the vinegar, which is the most amazing ruby colour.

Agatha still cooks pasticcia, spanakopita, soups and pastas to sell in the cafe and the two daughters run front-of-house. They serve great coffee, beautiful fruit salad, a fantastic dips platter, Greek salads, etc. The deli section has five different fettas - Australian, Bulgarian, skim milk and two Greek ones, Peperati and Dodomi. I'm not sure which of these are made from sheep's, goat's or cow's milks but I know they sell all three. Dimitrious cuts them with a piece of fishing line. There are nine types of olives: the tiny ones from Samos, three different sizes of Kalamata, green cracked ones, the round fleshy ones from Volou and those salty dried ones from Thassos. The jar of olives is unheard of at Danas - they're kept in big metal tubs of brine, strained and scooped out to order.

Danas Grocer and Cafe
416 Illawarra Rd Marrickville
9591 1589


Ms M said...

I love your "shops of the week". Just dropped by your blog spot to see what is happening in Marrickvillia and to see if you have any more vegies.

Meredith Jones said...

Hey Ms M,
the vegies are going well... corn & sunflowers getting tall. Thanks for dropping by!

Dean said...

When do we get to see the next lot of vegie photos? And how's Hugh doing with his facial injuries following the attack? (It is Hugh, isn't it?)

Jill said...

Hi Meredith,
Danas has very good olives and many other things (try the Cretan honey), including Agatha's spanakopita. I'm not as regular there as I used to be so I miss chatting to Tina (and her husband George) and the rest of the family. Jill.

Anonymous said...

When are you skips going to learn, huh??

It's taramOsalata..mO...mO...mO!!!
Not taramAsalata!

Other than that, good post.

DARIAN ZAM said...

I've never understood the fuss about the Post Cafe. It has been average at best from day one. The food is definitely "take it or leave it" as is the service, and back when it was basically the only cafe, you would just take friends there a courtesy.