Monday, July 7, 2008

More birthday celebration at Uncle Nick's

If it hasn't become clear already, Sunday was my birthday, and for my actual-birthday dinner, I headed to Uncle Nick's, on 9th Ave in Hell's Kitchen. My dining companion was my very own "lovely date" (footnote: NYCFoodGuy), who has chosen the amusing handle BS for the purposes of this blog. We arrived at the restaurant and asked to sit in the garden, so we were led through the dining room and out the back door. The back area was a small patio wedged in between the neighboring walk-up apartments, with views of fire escapes and shaded windows. For some reason, maybe because I was still in a giddy birthday stupor, on such a lovely night the patio was perfect.

The metal table was covered with paper placemats depicting the geography of Greece. If a cartoon rendering of the Venus de Milo doesn't get you in the mood to eat Greek food, nothing will.

Mmmm, Greece

We looked over the extensive menu and made our selections. As we waited for the appetizers to arrive, the bread basket came. It was a half-loaf of standard Italian bread accompanied by small packages of softened butter. It got the job done-- I'd call this bread "standard," but then again, I'm a bread snob. If you like Italian bread, you'll like this bread.

Good ol' Italian bread

We chose a small order of stuffed vine leaves to start. There were six sizeable pieces to the small order, in addition to a bed of romaine lettuce, a few olives, and a large, intimidating pepper. The grape leaves were stuffed with rice and spices and were delicious-- and not too oily, as grape leaves sometimes can be. Mmmm.

The pepper sort of looks like a mouse. No?

Interior shot

With the appetizer gone, we ordered wine in preparation for our entrees. There was a solid selection of reasonable wines by the glass, and (of course) I chose a glass of Sauvignon Blanc. No-nonsense glassware, but a good portion and a good flavor. BS chose a glass of red. It

Wine and demolished grape leaves

Our entrees arrived shortly after. BS had ordered the veggie kebab, which came as a large amount of veggies on a huge pile of rice. The requested side of tzaziki was the highlight-- tangy and delicious. BS pronounced the rice very good but the vegetables only okay. He'd been to Uncle Nick's several times before and said it was the least favorite dish he's gotten here.

Veggie line-up

I ordered the small Greek salad. It was huge. Truly. I ate about two thirds of it, which is a sad, sad showing, even for me. It was full of romaine lettuce, chopped onion, tomato, peeled cucumber, olives, and two grape leaves and a huge chunk of spiced feta on top. The ingredients were fresh and the feta had an interesting flavor-- definitely unlike any feta I had ever had before. This salad was ridiculously filling-- and it was only a small. Really good value.

There are so...many...veggies in there

There was birthday cake to be eaten, so we skipped dessert, but we did stay long enough to watch the table of tourists next to us take an extensive photo series of our waiters, who as a result were clearly having the best day of their lives. If nothing else, it made me seem less weird for taking pictures of the food. Sort of.

Uncle Nick's is a solid neighborhood place with tasty Greek food. It's also a really good value, especially for Manhattan. Since there are a lot of good Greek places in the city, I wouldn't necessarily trek across town to hit up Uncle Nick's, but if you're in the 'hood, stop on by. For the ambiance, the fresh food, and the good value, I'll award Uncle Nick's a solid three Offset Spatulas.

Uncle Nick's
747 Ninth Ave, between 50th and 51st Streets


Grant Miller said...

Looks good and veggie friendly.

Janine said...


Definitely veggie friendly! We went there at least partially because of that. Give it a try!


Anonymous said...

You need to go to Afghan Kebab House across the Street.
Have the potato bolanee appetizer.
And their rice and okra for entree.