I'm usually not a big fan of Mediterranean fare, (too much feta and too many olives), but I was pleasantly surprised by this cozy Upper East Side restaurant. Although the decor is modern, the cheerful, solicitous staff, accompanied by live traditional music, give it a distinctive old country feeling.
The cold appetizer platter was amazingly well done. Standing out was the melitzanosalata, a puree made from smoked eggplant with a smoky, almost meaty flavor. It lacked the sourness and creaminess of typical babaganoush. The squid was tender and fried to perfection, not one bit chewy or overly salty.
I also enjoyed the loukaniko sparta, char-grilled Greek sausage, which had a well done, citrus flavor -- an impressive surprise compared to similar dishes I've tried in Spanish and Portuguese restaurants.
The gigantes fournou, giant lima beans baked
with tomatoes and scallions, were tasty, and they made me seriously rethink my preconceptions of lima beans in general, the canned, flavorless variety of school lunches.
The keftedakia, seasoned meatballs, were lightly broiled and tasty, with just the right hint of lemon.
The Greek salad was well prepared and fresh; I could not taste a trace of the feta, which was easily and promptly removed.
The arni souvlaki, marinated cubes of lamb with tomatoes, green peppers and onions, was excellent. They managed to infuse the sweet flavor of onion throughout the entire dish, and the lamb was grilled so as not to be rare or tough and overdone.
Dessert, loukoumades, a Greek take on Italian zepolis served with a honey walnut syrup, was a delightfully sweet ending to an impressive meal.