Thursday, February 25, 2010

Birthday bites at Kefi

Let's travel back one more time to the pre-Vegas days, if you'll come with me. As I mentioned, the Saturday before we left was AV's birthday. We had a bunch of things to do for the upcoming trip, for which we were leaving at the crack of dawn the next day, but we also had to celebrate, of course. We had been talking about Greek food recently, and so I scoured the interwebs for some good, not too formal Greek places. It dawned on me-- Kefi was perfect. There was a reservation available, which I grabbed. We were off.

You may recall an unsuccessful foray I had to Kefi with BL a while back. Usually I hold grudges, but this time I put my personal feelings aside in favor of some good food. Fortunately, this time our reservation was accepted and we were led to a small table in the back. Let me echo the other reviewers on this point: Kefi is not a romantic restaurant. It's loud. There are screaming babies and kids swarming the tables next to you. The servers rush around, and there are a few too many tables for the space. But nonetheless, the bright farmhouse decor creates an upbeat atmosphere, and the place never lacks energy. A search for the bathrooms downstairs revealed that there's another, classier and quieter-looking dining room downstairs below the main dining area upstairs. If you want a calmer experience, ask to be seated there if you can when you make a reservation.

But more importantly, how is the food? Pretty darn good, it must be said. We started with bread, which was hearty and tender but was shoved awkwardly in a metal cup. Why do restaurants do this? It seems almost deliberately to be devaluing the bread. At least give it a loving, gentle basket of some sort.

Bread: disrespect

We didn't have too much time to dwell on the bread, though, because our entrees arrived promptly. I had chosen a standard Greek salad. Note the extremely generous portion-- Greek salad is uncommonly filling due to all the cheese anyway, and this plate had me stuffed. Yes, I know that's pathetic. There was finely chopped lettuce, fennel, onions, and cucumber; some halved tomatoes, olives, and some peppers; and of course, a generous shower of salty feta. The dressing was flavorful, if a bit heavy-handed, and it brought the salad together well. A true bargain for under $7.

Copious and filling

AV went with the chicken souvlaki, another surprising bargain. A generous street-food-style pita held chunks of chicken, lettuce, and assorted other veggies, and cool tzaziki sauce. A dish on the side held a smaller portion of the same Greek salad. And a handful of housemade herbed potato chips completed the trifecta. AV loved it-- a complete, well-composed, fresh three-course meal (sort of) for around $12.

Rockin' souvlaki

We may or may not have had surprise birthday cupcakes waiting at home (ahem), so we skipped dessert and headed back to the home base. Kefi, while atmosphere and upscale service may not be your overwhelming strong suits, your food is noteworthy. Reluctantly, I'd be back-- considering the value pricing, it's a commendable three Offset Spatula place.

505 Columbus Avenue, between 84th and 85th Streets

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