Address: 505 Columbus Avenue, New York
Michael Psilakis and restaurateur Donatella Arpaia are known for their one Michelin star Greek restaurant, Anthos in midtown New York City. Anthos is actually one of the two only Greek restaurants in the world that has received Michelin star. That shows how skewed the Michelin rating system is towards French and Italian food. I have also heard that even in Greece, the higher end restaurants are dominated by French and Italian cuisine. So Michael Psilakis should be proud of what he has accomplished so far. Not only did he bring Greek food to the next level, he is leading a wave for more refined, world class Greek restaurants opening in New York City.
We went to Anthos last year and it was definitely an introduction to high end Greek food for us. Michael Psilakis and Donatella Arpaia also own three other restaurants in the city - Kefi, Mia Dona, as well as a gastropub, Gus, that is opening soon. A few days ago, we decided to check out the more affordable Kefi that just reopened at a bigger location in Upper West Side, due to popular demand. Reservation is definitely recommended for dinner as the place was packed when we got there, given that it was during the middle of the week and the restaurant has 200 seats and 2 levels.
The food looks/tastes like Greek to me. According to Chef Psilakis, whenever he created a dish, he would do a “blind fold” tasting test on his mom. As long as she says it tastes like Greek, he knows he is still staying true to his cuisine. But of course, he is known for more refined and creative food. For instance, he created the pickled fries, so instead of having to sprinkle malt vinegar on the fries, the vinegar taste was already “pickled” onto the potatoes pre frying. They were delicious and crispy.
I am not sure how traditional Sheep’s milk dumpling is, but Kefi’s Sheep’s milk dumplings with tomato, feta and spicy lamb sausage dish was amazing. The sauce was wonderful with pine nuts and feta cheese, and the sheep's milk dumplings just melt in your mouth. Their signature meatballs and grilled octopus bean salad were also some of my favorites.
In Kefi, you’ll also notice an all Greek only wine list. It was my first time trying Greek wine and I thought the white wine from Santori region was nice but slightly stronger in taste compared to other wines I am used to. But still delicious. Gan and our friend had Greek dessert wine as well and they liked it.
For desserts, we ordered the walnut cake & walnut ice cream, yogurt with kataifi, almonds, quince, honey & mint, and pomegranate sorbet from Anthos. Other than the walnut cake and walnut ice cream, I was not familiar with the two desserts we ordered. Especially the yogurt, it was creamy, flavorful and unsweetened (well honey sweetens it on the side), so it might not be for everyone.
It was a nice dinner, and I liked most of the dishes we ordered (avoid the grilled sardines salad if you can). It's definitely more Greek comfort food style here at Kefi, but it's nice to have some dishes from Anthos showing on the menu from time to time. Kefi is affordable and you will leave the restaurant feeling full and satisfied, like you’ve just been to a Greek friend’s home for dinner!
Sheep's Milk dumplings, Tomato Pine nuts, Spicy Lamb Sausage anikta tyropitakia, tomates, koukounaria, kaftero loukaniko arniou