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
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