Last Sunday, in between coffee at Joe and a wonderful trip to the theatre with my friend Miya and her mom, Judy, I stopped into Kefi for a bite to eat.
Kefi is one of those rare success stories - a tiny neighborhood restaurant that flourishes to the extreme. In Kefi's case, that's meant a move to a larger space and attention from the Times, New York Magazine and the major food blogs (no, I don't mean Queenie). And with good reason. Kefi's food is simple and delicious - it's rustic Greek done very, very well and presented with friendly service for a reasonable price.
I'd eaten at Kefi for dinner a couple of times - the lamb chops are stupendous - but Sunday was my first time there for lunch. I decided to try a couple of the mezze, since I was feeling peckish and in need of variety. As it turns out, the two mezze were way too much food for one person, but not quite enough for two - if you're paired up, I'd recommend trying three!
My first choice was the homemade cypriot sausage, which came with a tangle of radishes, cucumbers and scallions tossed with lemon juice, herbs and olive oil. The sausages came nestled in a little pool of creamy Greek yogurt with a little stack of fresh pita triangles alongside.
The crispy calamari, my next choice, came complete with crispy lemon slices (battered bits of sunshine) and Greek yogurt for dipping. The calamari itself was simply cooked - lightly battered and then fried to golden - but the yogurt was seasoned with parsley, garlic and bits of fried shallot. The two combined were utter happiness on a plate. Seriously - I could eat this every day and not be bored. It was like having little fireworks go off in my mouth - like Pop Rocks of the sea.
In short, if you're in the market for a tasty Greek meal north of 59th Street, Kefi is the place to be. And you should get the calamari, lamb chops - oooh, and the sweetbreads, if they're still on the dinner menu. The sweetbreads, too.
505 Columbus Avenue
Between 84th and 85th Streets