Thursday, August 16, 2007

First NY Night Out at Kefi-Upper West Side

Tomato, Green Bean and manouri salad at Kefitomato, green bean, and manouri cheese salad

New York Magazine's annual Cheap Eats issue arrived right before we left LA, and it's the one magazine that made the move cross country. Some have taken issue with the mag's definition of "cheap", and I'll admit my first sample of the list was not a $3 falafel joint. Instead, J and I headed to Kefi, a Greek meze spot run by Michael Psilakas where our tab for two ran about $50.

Though our single income/grad student budget will ensure we visit the $3 places more frequently, the subterranean Kefi was an excellent value. We feasted on three sizable meze plates, shared a pasta dish, and sipped a glass each of a decent Greek red wine. (Though if you include the white wine that entertained us while we waited for a table, you must add another $13 to the tab).

After two moving days filled with unhealthy beige/brown foods, I needed to start with some summery veggies, and Kefi's tomato, green bean, olive, and manouri cheese salad packed a perfect punch. Dressed with a pungent vinaigrette, the salad disappeared quickly as J had to fight me for his share. Not that he minded much--he was distracted by the crispy cod served over garlicky mashed potatoes, which he compared to a less salty brandade, unmixed. I snuck a few bites of the lemony, moist fish which would have only improved if I'd eaten it on the shore of some Greek island.

hearty winter dishes at Kefiflat pasta with lamb in the foreground, sausage and sheep's milk dumplings in the background

Our second round was perhaps more suited for winter, but delicious nonetheless and the air-conditioned, windowless room helped us ignore the summer weather. We shared one more meze and my favorite dish--fluffy sheep's milk dumplings with spicy lamb sausage. With every bite I marveled over the sausage--sweet at first taste, then the spice hits you, with a hint of cinnamon. At this point I was fairly full, but still managed to enjoy our final dish of flat pasta, braised rabbit and graviera cheese. Topped with crispy shallots, this hearty dish was pleasantly gamey and rustic, and as we lingered over our wine, we polished it off.

The menu continues on to a list of main dishes, with a heavy dose of seafood, including a lovely-sounding pan fried striped bass and a grilled branzino. These courses top out at $16, while the meze, which easily provide 3-4 people substantial bites, range from $6-10. There are also plenty of Greek wines by the glass for only $6.

We didn't have a reservation and waited about 10 minutes at 9ish on a Wednesday night. The front bar area is quite cramped, but a decent place to sip some wine while you wait.

222 West 79th Street
between Broadway and Amsterdam


Rachael said...

I was half way through this post, thinking how nice it is to hear you are getting settled and scoping the local scene...when I got to "sheeps milk dumplings."

Oooooh. Tell me more (I'm leaning in, with big eyes) that sounds SO good...mmmm. Must go find a recipe...mmm...distracted...

Kate said...

Sounds like the next installment of Erin's Kitchen will be a good one. I look forward to reading all about your NY adventures.

annie said...

Sounds like you are getting settled into the food scence, if not at home too.

Erin S. said...

rachael--they were tiny, about the size of gnocchi, but light and fluffy with a smidge of salt. I'd like some right now in fact :)

kate--Thanks! I hope so.

Annie--yeah, people always ask "how do you know about the restaurants when you just moved here?" -- but it's just reading and research, nothing special!!

traderjanki said...

that salad looks delicious. i must check out this restaurant!

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