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[Cheap Eats]

Athan’s
Sweet surrender

BY RUTH TOBIAS

on the cheap
Vici Koreana Real Pizza Blue Plate Express Deluxe Town Diner

Even the owner’s name — Aristides Athanasopoulos — is a mouthful at the Washington Square bakery/chocolate shop Athan’s, where the spectrum of delectables is so wide it boggles the taste buds. And all the goodies here are entirely homemade, whether your choice is jam-packed, chocolate-filled, fruit-topped, nut-crusted, brandied, or candied. For C Liners, Athan’s is a real luxury — from rush hour to teatime and beyond.

A classic chocolate or generously nutty almond-and-Bavarian- cream croissant ($1.75), accompanied by darned decent coffee ($1.25), improves vastly upon the usual flavored water and production-line doughnut. If savories are more your style, the meltingly rich feta-and-spinach pie ($2.50) takes the cake, so to speak. Come afternoon, when your sweet tooth wakes up in a fuss, any one of more than 20 kinds of cookies serves as a tasty pacifier: try the elegant sesame florentine that Aris " grew up with " in his native Greece (about $1.25 or less each). Then there are the 10 or so varieties of baklava, filled with pistachios, dates, chocolate, and so on, each more honeyed than the one before (about $1 per piece). If that overwhelms you, you might try a cup of chilled ekmek ($3.95) — essentially liquescent baklava, refreshingly topped with Chantilly cream (and infinitely more appealing than the Cup o’ Pizza Steve Martin praises in The Jerk, I assure you).

Perhaps most impressive, however, are the mousse-filled pastries ($3.95 each): sumptuously decorated mini-cakes containing fig cream, caramel, white chocolate, and the like. Many are dusted with Callebaut chocolate sprinkles. They’re absolutely made for sweethearts sharing one of the place’s few cozy little tables. And what with the wood paneling throughout, this charming spot has the feel of a bygone era. (Oh! Did I mention the chocolate? How about the gelato?)

Athan’s, located at 1621 Beacon Street, in Brookline, is open daily from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Call (617) 734-7028.

Issue Date: April 5-12, 2001