If you either know me, or have been following me, then you know, my best friend is Greek. Unfortunately last month she passed away from a hard fight with cancer, leaving a huge hole in my life. Even though she was from New York City, has grown up in Park Slope and Whitestone, she was Greek all the way through. She spent lots of time on the island of Ikaria, where her family was from, and she loved Greek food. So. I’m dedicating this blog to her, I know she would have loved all three of the following restaurants.
This gorgeous eatery is located on 55th Street off 5th Avenue, and is probably the most upscale Greek restaurant in the city. It’s sunny, it’s bi-leveled, it’s white. It’s definitely not cheap, but if you want to watch your wallet, do visit during lunch hours, because they have a special that is impossible to beat. For $32 dollars you will be served a three-course meal that is dreamy and delicious. I went with one of my long time friends, that I know since the 80’s through my Greek friend Georgia. We toasted her with some good wine, and devoured our meal.
Our choices were: a Romaine Salad with dill, spring onions, Manouri cheese and Milos dressing, Grilled Octopus with Santorini yellow spilt pea fava; grilled Dorade Royal with steamed broccoli, a Roasted Organic Chicken Breast with roasted eggplant, peppers, mint yogurt and herbs; and for dessert we had Karydopita, which is a Greek walnut cake with honey and lavender ice cream, and a Greek Yogurt with crumbled Baklava. Besides the immaculate service, I can’t say enough about the freshness of the food, the clean and authentic flavors, it was a true treat.
For more info on Estiatorio Milos click here
Elea doesn’t stand much behind Estiatorio Milos. Located on 85th Street on the Upper Westside, it is equally elegant, yet with a more rustic touch. Running on 2 floors, it’s busy and bustling. I went with a girlfriend to catch up with each other on our busy lives, all keeping my friend in mind throughout the dinner. Elea is warm, candle lit, elegant. Diners are sophisticated and engulfed in quiet conversation. It’s not stuffy, it’s not wild, it’s perfectly set in the middle, it’s a comfortable night out. My friend and I decided to go with a few small plates, accompanied by some good wine.
We started out with Loukaniko (Greek Villange Sausage, braised gigante beans, and Arahova Feta, a perfectly delicious beginning. It was followed by Sesame Feta (sesame crusted feta with dried figs, thyme, pink peppercorns and honey). That was something I never had before, and I have to add to my all time favorites, I couldn’t get enough. The combination of the warm saltiness of the cheese and the honey was just perfect. We then had the Pork Souvlaki (marinated pork tenderloin with tyrokafteri, roasted onions and toasted pita) and some really, really delicious meatballs called Soutzioukakia. They were spicy while marinated in spiced tomato sauce with Manouri cheese, accompanied by toasted pita. It was a tasty meal, very reminiscent of the Greek Islands.
For more info on Elea click here
KIki’s is almost nondescript. There isn’t much social media presence, which in and of itself is rare these days, not much advertising, no drums and fanfares. You find out about Kiki’s through word of mouth, foodies talk about it, seasoned diners know about it, neighbors rave about it. I went by myself, stlll gloomy about my friend’s passing, thinking about how much she would have loved this place. It’s located on the Lower Eastside, close to Chinatown. The little sodas and souvenirs on the shelves ooze Greece, it’s dark and lively, diners are from all over the world, settled into the the L.E.S.
I ordered some stuff to eat, some stuff to go, munching on it later and the next day. Of course the Tsatsiki was a must, this one with dill, it was so fresh and delicious. Next was Saganaki, a pan seared crispy phyllo sesame crusted kefalograveria cheese, drizzled with honey and lemon. Lord have mercy, it was unbelievably delicious! I followed up with Mama’s Oven Roasted Chicken with Yia Yia’s lemon potatoes, It had a bit of gravy on top, salty and lemony, it was comforting, balanced, just really, really good, The Pastichio came home with me, but not before I tried a couple of bites. It consists of layered eggplant, potatoes, ground beef and pork, fused by a béchamel sauce. It was sweet and savory, warming and delicious, a taste of Greece. This place earned its stripes, it’s just what the Lower Eastside needed.
For more info on Kiki’s click here