It's a Date!
by Fiorella Valdesolo, New York Observer contributor, 12/08/2008
222 W. 79th St. • 212-873-0200
When you're craving authentic Greek cuisine, Kefi might just save you a trip over the bridge to Astoria. Chef Michael Psilakis cut his teeth at Dona and Onera, cooking a more avant-garde variety of Greek under the tutelage of restaurateur Donatella Arpaia. But there is nothing highbrow about what he is serving at Kefi—Greek food here is steadfastly traditional. That doesn't mean, though, that it is expected, because one taste of Psilakis' interpretation of dishes you considered yourself familiar with, will have you rethinking every meze or moussaka that has ever passed your lips. And the prices are so reasonable that you will have to resist the urge to re-tune your Greek palette by sampling everything on the menu. Every meal should commence with the selection of spreads ($9.95), a platter that includes four habit-forming dips (my favorite of which is a creamy chickpea puree) and a stack of pita triangles. A dish of warm feta ($6.95) topped with tomatoes, olives, and a puddle of olive oil tastes totally unlike that cheese they call feta at your regular lunch joint, and a meatball appetizer ($5.95)—they are made here with a combination of beef, pork and lamb, then baked in a cast iron dish with a garlicky tomato sauce dotted with massive olives—is hefty enough to be an entrée. Among those, standouts include a mouthwatering broken moussaka ($11.95), a deconstructed version of the Greek-style lasagna, and a massive braised lamb shank ($15.95) with meat so tender it falls off the bone with barely a touch of your fork, and served on a bed of lemony orzo sprinkled with parsley. The best accompaniment for the food is one of the many Greek wines on the list—a glass is available for $6 or $7—and no meal is complete without a cup of molasses-thick gruek coffee.
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