April 29, 2007 | BITE: My Journal
Sunday at Kefi
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