As you travel from the port of Tinos to Kato Meri and the Komi valley, at one of the turns in the road above a ravine, you’ll come to Krokos, a tiny village which today boasts a mere 10 inhabitants. Above the ‘horseshoe’ formed by the road and the bridge over the ravine, on your left, you’ll see Kyra Lenis ’ little coffeeshop. Tastefully decorated, with pleasing colours in the courtyard and interior, the place welcomes you with pots full of flowers and sweet-smelling herbs, while a wooden sign near the garden, written in chalk, tells you that the main specialities of the café are ‘fourtalia spesial (special omelette), salads and appetisers’.
This coffee house has a long history. It first opened in 1950 and in 1970 Kyra Eleni Delatolas took charge and called it the ‘Rematia’ (Ravine) Café/Grocery Store. For as long as she lived, Kyra Leni made it famous, both for her personality and her cooking skills, especially her famous omelette. In 2007 her grandson, Antonis Zalonis, inherited it, while Kyra Kalliopi, Leni’s daughter and Antonis’ mother, helps out in the kitchen, and his father is responsible for the fresh vegetables grown in the café’s garden.
The Leni’s café (‘Kafeneio Tis Kyra Lenis’ in Greek) is a place where passers-by drop in to quench their thirst or have a cup of coffee to wake them up, but also to have a bite to eat, quell their hunger pangs. The café’s kitchen offers simple Tinos dishes. To accompany an ouzo or the local raki flavoured with wild fennel, the best choice might be a platter of various Tinos products like local cheese, artichokes preserved in olive oil, louza (preserved pork), garlicky sausage, homemade kopanisti, capers and vineleaves stuffed with rice. Antonis, engaging and polite as he waits on you, may also suggest a delicious omelette (fourtalia) – single or double (made with more than the usual number of eggs) – in various versions: with preserved meat, sausages, potatoes, vegetables; as well as mouth-watering keftedes (meatballs) and fried bread stuffed with various tasty fillings. Also on the menu you’ll find courgette pies, salads, and other treats that go nicely with the café’s homemade wine.
Open from March to November, the Kafeneio Tis Kyra Lenis is well worth a stop.