April 29, 2007 | BITE: My Journal

Sunday at Kefi

Kefi Photo Steven Richter
Of course we start with the intense Greek spreads at Kefi. Photo: Steven Richter

      Maybe Sunday is not the best night for Kefi.  Clots of territorial west siders are pawing the pavement outside, waiting a summons to table in this cute little no-reservations taverna.  We’ve eaten exceptionally well here three times for a pittance – about $35 cold cash (no plastic please).  And I’d come more often, if not for that daunting queue and the simple fact that I love Michael Psilakis' simple Greek food better than my guy does.

       It’s easy to get carried away with the savory spreads – eggplant, taramasalata, garlicky yogurt tzatziki, spicy red pepper – on toasted triangles of pita or the house’s very good baguette.  Then just an appetizer or an entrée or a shared pasta makes it a dinner.  I like the mussel and gigante bean salad with a snowfall of feta, the stuffed cuttlefish, grilled octopus or Greek salad to start, and afterward, mousaka or the rustic pastichio, baked noodles with beef ragout.  The chef’s feta fetish - or is it a tic? - makes everything taste richer.  (As a young cook, I used to put sour cream on everything to the same effect.)
Tonight I order the mussel salad I’ve been fantasizing all afternoon, but I don’t mind at all when I get baked mussels and clams in a tomatoey broth instead.  And given the excess of spreads on our table, I barely make a dent in the starter-size meatballs that come as my second. But someone – chef’s Sunday night out? – is over-salting. My friend’s swordfish tastes salted at least twice and the hanger steak on its bed of over-salted onions is so tough, the Road Food Warrior abandons the battle  half-way through.

        The evening ends on a happier note: fabulous walnut cake with maple ice cream and irresistible chocolate halvah torte.  And the other-worldly check, gentle as always.  Kefi is walking distance from our door…I know we’ll be back.

        222 West 79th Street, just east of Broadway. 212 873 0200
Insatiable, The Book, Bby Gael Greene