Thursday, August 16, 2007
First NY Night Out at Kefi-Upper West Side
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.
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