My dad was in NYC last night visiting his “favorite daughter” (I am his only daughter…). We were discussing our dinner plans, and I mentioned that our favorite neighborhood spot, Kefi, had moved to a new location. I took my dad to Kefi on a prior NYC visit and he loved it so off we went to the new Kefi.
I knew that Kefi had expanded (and was now taking reservations and credit cards with plans to open for brunch), but I had no idea that the new space was so large (130 seats!). Cozy neighborhood spot no more…the new Kefi is a behemoth. I was anticipating a change for the worse, but I was surprised by the Olive Gardenization of my favorite restaurant – with endless staff zipping around the cavernous restaurant serving throngs of families.
For all of my gripes about the new restaurant, Kefi remains a great value with very good (if no longer excellent) food. The biggest change in the prices was that the cost of drinks has increased – what used to be a $6 beer is now $7.50 and margaritas went from $7 to $9. I also noticed that portions were scaled back on some dishes; most notably, the serving of calamari was half of what it was at the old Kefi (for the same price).
We ordered a few of my standbys – Greek salad, meatballs, calamari – which were good, but not quite as good as at the old Kefi (and I have eaten each of these dishes many, many times so I think I’m a good judge!). The salad had too much dressing and the meatballs had clearly been sitting in the kitchen window before being retrieved by one of the 80 or so runners who were jetting about the restaurant.
The biggest disappointment of the meal (aside from the aforementioned scale of the restaurant), was the chicken souvlaki, which was the only new menu item that we tried. At $12, the souvlaki was no bargain and my dad declared “you could get a better souvlaki on the street.” The fries served with the souvlaki were deemed inedible by my dad – that’s a strong word, but these fries were soggy, greasy and lukewarm. When I vocied my displeasure to the waitress she explained that the fries are pickled in vinegar before they are cooked (explains the sogginess) and that they are not meant to be served hot. Eww.
I am sure that we will go back to Kefi, but it’s fallen from “go to” neighborhood spot status. I miss you already Kefi.
On a related and brighter note, I pulled the Michael Psilakis one-two punch and had lunch with a client at Anthos today. This was my second visit (both at lunch), and I’ve been delighted both times. Because of the midtown location and the somewhat stuffy décor, I would opt for lunch at Anthos over dinner. The $28 prix fixe lunch is a great deal (particularly when someone else is footing the bill!).