Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Kefi


Eatmywords
 Share

Recommended Posts

Dropped in on Kefi Friday night around 9:30pm w/no res (I don't think they accept them). It was full w/several waiting in the cozy front room & bar. We were lucky to score a 4 top immediately as the wait apparently was for parties smaller and larger than ours. A nice start.

The townhouse decor is simple and doesn't scream Greek. More so a country-cafe vibe with its dark blue and white walls, thick blonde wood tables and clunky green backed chairs. We sat in the back (main) room. The space was a little tight but once seated, we were quite comfortable. In the end, the decor and layout became completely irrelevant. The food and drink (for the prices) overshadowed everything else.

Service was casual and efficient. Courses were timed nicely, a sign that Mr. Psilakis and his staff were prepared. (I'm guessing this was their busiest service since opening. -The first wknd night after a very good NYT (Meehan) review and couple previously from NY Mag and TO)

We started w/the sprd sampler; tzatziki, taramosalata, fava and melintzanosalata w/warm (addictive) pita. All pretty good and very fresh as if made to order. All had a twist, an extra spice, a different texture, something differentiating from standard sprds which I appreciated though we weren't wowed by any in particular. My fav was the taramosalata. I thought the portions were to be a bit of tease. I'd probably skip it next time for the simple reason there were so many other interesting options.

Also shared the Cuttlefish stuffed with spinach and Manouri. This app was insane. Stuffed, tentacles at the end, with a soft, marscapone-like cheese and spinach over rstd tomatoes and lightly vinigrette'd salad to the side. This is a must repeat. (I wanted to try the sweetbreads as well, but the idea was not well received by all......next time for sure).

For entrees, my girl and I shared the braised rabbit dish and the shrimp and scallops over orzo. The rabbit (bolognese) came over parpadelle-like noodles w Graviera (a mild Greek swiss cheese )and topped with tiny breaded/fried onions. A strong hint of cinnamon was in the sc which we loved. Though any gaminess from the rabit was lost in the ragu. This dish was one of the better (and more unique) pastas I've had in a long while.

Next we shared shrimps and scallops over orzo in a red sc of fresh tomatoes and feta, that when melted, had a creamy whipped butter texture blending into the dish making it even more fantastic. Laden with a nice qty of large scallops and med shrimp (much more than expected) and fresh herbs. It was fantastic. A close competitor to the rabbit. My friend's wife had the leg of lamb which was done correctly; the huge portion was moist and fatty and also over orzo. I'd say the rabbit and shrimp/scallops at their price pt, $11/$14 are two of the best dishes for the price pt in NY.

We had a couple Greek whites by the glass. Both pretty light, Pinot meets Chablis, both fine and nicely priced at $6. (I believe all wbg were this price). My friend chose a beer from the all Greek list. 6 or 7 varieties which I think is awesome esp at $5. After dinner we sampled 2 ouzo's. Another nice selection (aprx 8 choices), all at $6 a pop. This is a crazy good deal esp considering the generous pours

Throughout the meal, I kept thinking, finally, there's a casual place to eat up here with really good food at astronomically low prices. I hope the UWS appreciates and understands that very few are serving this level of food at these prices. Really, they have a gem on their hands. This is my new goto when in the hood.

That wasn't chicken

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I ate at Kefi last night with my mother, sister and husband. We were concerned that we weren't going to make it in time because we were coming from the E Village and they close at 10 (left the EV at 9). However, when we got there they were still bustling. We started with the octopus and the mussels to share. Both were really delicious, and next time I go I'm not sharing the octopus. I was disappointed to see that the swordfish preparation that was listed on menupages was different and much less interesting. I really wanted to try the pasta with the rabbit, but they were out, so I had the swordfish. It was tasty and perfectly cooked, but not very exciting. Mom had the shrimp (which I believe was just shrimp, no scallops) with orzo, sister had the branzino, and hubby had the lamb shank. Everything was delicious, but I felt that the two fish dishes were a little dull. They have wines by the glass listed on the back of the menu, and they did not offer a list of wines by the bottle, but I saw another table with a bottle of wine. I'm sure you just have to ask, and I will next time. We ended with the walnut cake and the chocolate mouse with halva. The mouse was not light and airy, it was very dense and barely sweet...perfect for me. The cake was good, but I really don't like cake. Hubby loved it though. With a glass of wine and a beer, the meal was $110 before tip. I wish Kefi was in my neighborhood.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I hope the UWS appreciates and understands that very few are serving this level of food at these prices.  Really, they have a gem on their hands.

We do, but it makes us miss Onera even more.

I want pancakes! God, do you people understand every language except English? Yo quiero pancakes! Donnez moi pancakes! Click click bloody click pancakes!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I went to Kefi that night to meet eatmywords and his friends. But they didn't know I was meeting them (or pretended not to know), and the place is much too cramped to have permitted a seat to be added to their fourtop. So I ate at the bar. Kind of perfect for a misanthrope like me: I get to go out with friends, but still eat alone.

Since they were finishing up and we were going to go to a bar afterward, I just had one dish. It was the paparadelle-like pasta, except by the time I ordered it, they were out of rabbit and I had it with lamb instead.

It's obviously impossible to judge a restaurant by one dish, but I'm going to go out on a limb and do it anyway:

This place is ridiculously good for what it is. It's priced like a neighborhood Greek place, but the food exceeds what you get even in most places in Astoria. The careful, schooled cooking; the unexpected touches and flavor accents: it's neighborhood rustic food done by a guy who's a seriously excellent cook.*

The price/value ratio is off the hook. I honestly can't think of another place like it.

If Kefi were in my neighborhood, I'd be there every night until I got sick of the food. As it is, I'm going to go out of my way to go there for late after-work dinners. That's how (relatively) cheap and good it is.

__________________________________________________

* No, this isn't "New Paradigm." Nobody's serving haute dishes here. What it is, is cheap ethnic taken to a whole other level owing to schooled cooking techniques. Like what Franny's would be, if it were cheap instead of fairly expensive.

Edited by Sneakeater (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Went for dinner tonight. After a 15 minute wait for 2 at around 7:30, we enjoyed a delicious meal. I had a glass of red, boyfriend had a beer. We started with meatballs, spanikopita and breaded cod with skordalia (whipped potatoes). All were scrumptious - the meatballs were perfectly flavored, the cod very mild and the spanakopita unique - open-faced with spinach and a creamy sauce over phyllo dough. For entrees, boyfriend had the pork souvlaki. It came with rice and greens. He needed to ask for more tzatziki but other than that enjoyed it. I had the rabbit pasta dish mentioned above - it was outstanding. For dessert, I had the cheese flan with rice pudding ice cream. The ice cream was great - smooth, creamy and sweet. The flan wasn't really what I was looking for. All in all, a great meal for a terrific value - $75 including tax and tip!

Edited by elicious (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Planning on going to Kefi on Saturday night with some friends. Given the recent press, I'm sure we'll be in for a wait anytime near prime time. Is there a bar (or bar area) to wait in comfortably and have a drink? I'm gathering that it's a pretty small space...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Went to Kefi on Saturday night to see what all the fuss was about. And fuss there was -- a packed bar area and people waiting outside (30-60 minute wait at 6:30!). Amazing what good publicity will do! We were a party of six and the host told us they have one round top for 6 that was seated at 6, so they should be done between 7:15 and 7:30. Seemed to be a little amibitious to get a 6-top in and out in under 90 minutes, but we weren't worried -- we had arrived early expecting to wait. Went next door to Blondies for a beer (took all the will power I had not to order some wings!) and went back a little after 7 to wait for our table as we were told if we were not in the restaurant when our name was called, would be taken off the list.

Surely enough, at 7:30 our table was ready and we were seated. Had the 6 top in the back right hand corner of the room which was great -- round table, and the fact that it was tucked into a corner made it much quieter (it's a packed room) and very comfortable. The wine list was filled with Greek wines, which we knew nothing about -- good descriptions on the wine menu and our server recommended one that was very food friendly with some nice character to it -- at $29. Lot's of very reasonable wine selections starting at $18 -- can't vouch for how good they are, but the one we had was very reasonable and very nice.

Appetizers were the star of the show -- we had a variety. The much discussed spreads lived up to the billing -- wonderful, bold flavors. Meatballs were very nice, a spinach pie was not your typical fast food version -- almost Cream Spinach in Phyllo -- bordering on decadent -- a highlight. A grilled octopus was tender and welll spiced. Sweetbreads were lightly crunchy on the outisde and creamy on the inside -- only wish the outer crust had held up a little better -- but can't argue too much with a $7.95 good order of Sweetbreads!

Entrees were solid, although didn't blow us away. A lamb chop special that we had seen come out while we were walking to the table, was already gone by the time we were ordering (7:45 or so). Our waiter said they had 25 orders and almost every table had ordered them. Oh, well -- they looked good). Our table had 3 lamb shanks -- which were a nice rendition, although nothing special. The rabbit pasta was better, rich and not overly gamey. And the grilled Branzino was very good -- nice grilled flavor, very fresh, perfectly cooked and lightly seasoned.

Greek desserts are not my favorite -- but the table seemed to enjoy them.

Service was very efficient -- too efficient in fact -- appetizers were out less than 10 minutes after we ordered and entrees came out before we had finished the appetizers. It was too chaotic too ask them to take them back and hold them for 5 minutes while we finished. Dessert and coffee were equally efficient. Actually remarkable considering how swamped the place was -- clearly they are still getting used to the crush, but would have expected them to error on the slow side! I know they want to get people in and out, I think they'll get the timing down better as they adjust to their new-found popularity. At these prices, it will be crowded for awhile.

All in all a very nice neighborhood Greek restaurant, and a great bargain ($42 a person -- amazing for what we ate!). Not a destination place and the food isn't transcendant. But very, very solid food at extremely reasonable prices. UWSers should be very happy to have this wonderful neighborhood Greek -- and probably a lot happier when the hype dies down and things get more back to normal. For now, I'd avoid it on peak time on weekends -- until after Memorial Day anyway...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I was there on Saturday at about the same time Jon was. Alone, on a quick break between installments of The Coast of Utopia.

When I peeked in at the bar area, it was scary crowded. But nobody was eating at the bar. Everybody was having a few drinks while waiting for their table. I figured that turnover would be fast. I also figured that, if I made it clear that I actually intended to eat dinner at the bar, the bartender and maybe even my fellow patrons would try to make sure I was accomodated with a seat. I was correct on both counts (thanks to everybody who offered to give up seats for me!).

I think the kitchen was stressed. Compared to the last time I ate there -- when it was only crowded but not scary crowded -- the food seemed marginally less well prepared. The slightest bit gloppier (to use a famous chef's term). But still very good.

Indeed, I remain astounded by the value of this place. This neighborhood should be VERY happy to have it (and if the enormous crowds are any indication, it is).

NOTE TO BAR DINERS: You can only eat at the actual bar. They will not serve food at the tables in the bar area. Those are only for waiting (with drinks).

Edited by Sneakeater (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

The place was monstrously packed on Friday night around 8 PM. There was barely any space to move around in the entire front space. We walked up to Spiga and ate there instead, but we're planning on returning to Kefi sometime this week.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

They won't be getting my dollars any more. I feel the owner made it very clear that he values making the most bang per head over customer loyalty or experience. Monday night around 6:30 my husband and I showed up with my parents and our 4 year old and 11 year old. We told them we needed a table for 6 and because the inside of the restaurant was so crowded most of our party waited outside.

The maitre'd said it would not be very long. After 15 minutes he asked if our party was all there and I said yes. He said OK and we all started filing through (including my parents who are in their 70's). When he saw we had kids he stopped dead in his tracks and said Well if you have kids I have a table for 5 that would fit all of you but it will be AT LEAST another 30 minutes. in a v discouraging fashion.

Then he said he had a party ahead of us (w/one more adult than us) but they weren't all here yet and that is why he WAS going to give us the table. My son orders his own entree and appetizer, BUT he does not drink liquor and my younger child would be only doing a half order (the four other adults all eat and drink.) But having had my whole family file halfway through his restaurant and then to have him kick us out because he wanted every single seat to be ordering a full entree and then some left a very bad taste in my mouth. As it is we always over order and would have been glad to order an extra entree to share if that was the case. But the way he handled it left a very bad taste in my mouth. We specifically went early and on an off night ... a night our entire family typically eats out. And felt we were treated very badly. This is an uws restaurant so he ought to rethink things if he thinks a 4 year old will be dining on his/her mother's lap.

Edited by LilianNY (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 month later...

finally got around to Kefi last night.

for a Sunday night...it was packed...we ended up eating at the bar.

this is very good, rustic food, prepared at an insanely low price point.

although I'm kind of getting over the whole sweetbreads thing (do I really need to see them on every menu?)...these were very good...the caperberries were a perfect accompaniment...texturally and taste-wise.

another app was somewhat forgettable...but pleasant enough.

the pappardelle was also quite good. the dried fruit sauce (with shreds of braised rabbit) reminded me of a similar mole -- Machamanteles Amerillo.

grilled shrimp with orzo was fine...the price was beyond a steal though.

I really liked the pork medallions...they came with loads of fennel, onions, whole cloves of roasted garlic. there was nothing sophisticated or nuanced about this dish. it didn't have to be. just throw some strong flavors on a plate and enjoy. (the pork was a little overcooked though....I imagine they might have difficulty in the neighborhood serving it medium rare or rare).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

They won't be getting my dollars any more. I feel the owner made it very clear that he values making the most bang per head over customer loyalty or experience.  Monday night around 6:30 my  husband and I showed up with my parents and our 4 year old and 11 year old. We told them we needed a table for 6 and because the inside of the restaurant was so crowded most of our party waited outside.

The maitre'd said it would not be very long. After 15 minutes he asked if our party was all there and I said yes.  He said OK and we all started filing through (including my parents who are in their 70's).  When he saw we had kids he stopped dead in his tracks and said Well if you have kids I have a table for 5 that would fit all of you but it will be AT LEAST another 30 minutes. in a v discouraging fashion.

Then he said he had a  party ahead of us (w/one more adult than us) but they weren't all here yet and that is why he WAS going to give us the table.  My son orders his own entree and appetizer, BUT he does not drink liquor and my younger child would be only doing a half order (the four other adults all eat and drink.) But having had my whole family file halfway through his restaurant and then to have him kick us out because he wanted every single seat to be ordering a full entree and then some left a very bad taste in my mouth. As it is we always over order and would have been glad to order an extra entree to share if that was the case. But the way he handled it left a very bad taste in my mouth.  We specifically went early and on an off night ... a night our entire family typically eats out. And felt we were treated very badly. This is an uws restaurant so he ought to rethink things if he thinks a 4 year old will be dining on his/her mother's lap.

This isn't inconsistent with an experience we had recently there as well. Just after the restaurant opened, we stopped by and got some food to take out. Chef Psilakis was sitting in the bar and my wife chatted with him, as he indicated that takeout was something they were planning on doing. Fast forward a couple of weeks. The manager (not Michael Psilakis, to be clear) informs us, now that the restaurant is so busy, they will not be doing takeout, they have never done takeout, and that if we desire takeout, we should be somewhere else.

The guy is, frankly, an asshole, which it pains me to say since the food is great and the couple of times I have spoken with Chef Psilakis, he seems like a genuinely nice guy.

I want pancakes! God, do you people understand every language except English? Yo quiero pancakes! Donnez moi pancakes! Click click bloody click pancakes!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

They won't be getting my dollars any more. I feel the owner made it very clear that he values making the most bang per head over customer loyalty or experience.  Monday night around 6:30 my  husband and I showed up with my parents and our 4 year old and 11 year old. We told them we needed a table for 6 and because the inside of the restaurant was so crowded most of our party waited outside.

The maitre'd said it would not be very long. After 15 minutes he asked if our party was all there and I said yes.  He said OK and we all started filing through (including my parents who are in their 70's).  When he saw we had kids he stopped dead in his tracks and said Well if you have kids I have a table for 5 that would fit all of you but it will be AT LEAST another 30 minutes. in a v discouraging fashion.

Then he said he had a  party ahead of us (w/one more adult than us) but they weren't all here yet and that is why he WAS going to give us the table.  My son orders his own entree and appetizer, BUT he does not drink liquor and my younger child would be only doing a half order (the four other adults all eat and drink.) But having had my whole family file halfway through his restaurant and then to have him kick us out because he wanted every single seat to be ordering a full entree and then some left a very bad taste in my mouth. As it is we always over order and would have been glad to order an extra entree to share if that was the case. But the way he handled it left a very bad taste in my mouth.  We specifically went early and on an off night ... a night our entire family typically eats out. And felt we were treated very badly. This is an uws restaurant so he ought to rethink things if he thinks a 4 year old will be dining on his/her mother's lap.

This isn't inconsistent with an experience we had recently there as well. Just after the restaurant opened, we stopped by and got some food to take out. Chef Psilakis was sitting in the bar and my wife chatted with him, as he indicated that takeout was something they were planning on doing. Fast forward a couple of weeks. The manager (not Michael Psilakis, to be clear) informs us, now that the restaurant is so busy, they will not be doing takeout, they have never done takeout, and that if we desire takeout, we should be somewhere else.

The guy is, frankly, an asshole, which it pains me to say since the food is great and the couple of times I have spoken with Chef Psilakis, he seems like a genuinely nice guy.

I don't get your point. So they changed their minds. BFD. They're probably busier than they ever hoped to be and can't do it (it's not like a restaurant would turn down additional revenue otherwise). Besides, it's not like the food would travel well.

edit: of course, an attitude on the part of the staff (if he gave you one) is inexcusable. but I'm beginning to see why serious restauranteurs are so adverse to opening on the UWS...it seems like the neighborhood expectations (for things other than food) are pretty high.

Edited by Nathan (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don't get your point.  So they changed their minds.  BFD.  They're probably busier than they ever hoped to be and can't do it (it's not like a restaurant would turn down additional revenue otherwise).  Besides, it's not like the food would travel well.

edit:  of course, an attitude on the part of the staff (if he gave you one) is inexcusable.  but I'm beginning to see why serious restauranteurs are so adverse to opening on the UWS...it seems like the neighborhood expectations (for things other than food) are pretty high.

I don't think it's a particularly high expectation to assume that when a waiter/manager begins to walk you to your seat that you will actually be seated. There's absolutely no reason that a table with children should be treated any differently than a table without- provided that the parents/children are being considerate of the people around them. I have a small appetite and don't always drink, but I know I'd throw a fit if I were asked to sit on someone's lap because I'm not drinking or ordering a large amount. It's a terrible business policy to make UWSers feel like they can't bring their children to a restaurant at that price point. And LilianNY is correct, 4 years old is WAY too old to sit in a lap comfortably for an entire meal.

Takeout, on the other hand, is a wily thing. I remember an article in the NY Times a few months after Chinatown Brasserie opened that was about gourmet kids and one example was kids dining on dim sum takeout from CB. I called and tried to order later that week only to be told that they don't do takeout or delivery (but apparently they do PR and NYTimes name dropping). Even though dim sum would likely travel even worse than greek food, I want to be able to order from CB!Sadly, the delivery/takeout option still hasn't come to fruition.

That being said, if they want to discourage children from dining in the restaurant (which I think would be a TERRIBLE idea in that neighborhood), they might want to reconsider their delivery/takeout policy. It's not like I'm not aware that restaurants discriminate (and I appreciate it when I am seated immediately at a place that I give a ton of business to or where I am friendly with the owners/staff), but refusing to seat people with children at a table of the appropriate size is completely unacceptable.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I was specifically responding to the takeout post...but I think one aspect of this illustrated by your post is that restauranteurs will have far more family diners on the UWS than in other parts of the city (since I've moved to NY I've virtually never seen children in a restaurant). its certainly something they need to consider when opening up there (and its especially something they need to address in FOH training).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

(since I've moved to NY I've virtually never seen children in a restaurant).

That's more a function of the kind of neighborhoods you've lived in and frequented, and the kind of restaurants you go to, than any kind of reflection on the reality of restaurants in NYC. I would guess that the neighborhoods in which you see children in restaurants outnumber those in which you don't. (Although I'd also guess that, on the whole, they tend to have worse restaurants.)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I was specifically responding to the takeout post...
I think the poster's complaint was the attutide with which the message was delivered, not the message itself. Obviously, any restaurant can change their minds based on their perception of market demand. It's how you communicate the change that counts.
but I think one aspect of this illustrated by your post is that restauranteurs will have far more family diners on the UWS than in other parts of the city (since I've moved to NY I've virtually never seen children in a restaurant).  its certainly something they need to consider when opening up there (and its especially something they need to address in FOH training).

Coincidentally, I just saw a high chair in Insieme the other night. But I agree, it's not that common, except in a few neighborhoods (UES, UWS, Theater District).

The irony here is that Psilakis deliberately took Onera down a notch, based on the kind of neighborhood he was in. To do that, and then act surprised when a family with children comes in, is mind-blowing.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Coincidentally, I just saw a high chair in Insieme the other night. But I agree, it's not that common, except in a few neighborhoods (UES, UWS, Theater District).

Chinatown? Neighborhood places in Tribeca?

People with children take them to restaurants all the time. Just not fine-dining restaurants.

Although I agree with oakapple that, if there ever was a restaurant that should have anticipated having family groups eat there, it's Kefi.

Edited by Sneakeater (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

(since I've moved to NY I've virtually never seen children in a restaurant).

That's more a function of the kind of neighborhoods you've lived in and frequented, and the kind of restaurants you go to, than any kind of reflection on the reality of restaurants in NYC. I would guess that the neighborhoods in which you see children in restaurants outnumber those in which you don't. (Although I'd also guess that, on the whole, they tend to have worse restaurants.)

that's my point though.

for better or worse, today's NY dining scene is concentrated downtown...precisely the area where you don't see too many kids. (there are actually a fair amount of toddlers in my building (no one of school age that I can see)...but I don't see them at local restaurants).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Coincidentally, I just saw a high chair in Insieme the other night. But I agree, it's not that common, except in a few neighborhoods (UES, UWS, Theater District).

Chinatown? Neighborhood places in Tribeca?

People with children take them to restaurants all the time. Just not fine-dining restaurants.

Although I agree with oakapple that, if there ever was a restaurant that should have anticipated having family groups eat there, it's Kefi.

which neighborhood places in Tribeca?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...