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Why is it impossible to find really good food on the UWS?

Just had dinner at Cafe Kefi (West 79th St) which replaced Onera and heralded in these posts. Food was passably akin to the Greek diner, it was assembly-line: no imagination, murky in taste, The worst part was the rush: rush with our orders, food arrived miracoulsy less than 3 minutes after ordering, finished dishes were dispatched literally seconds upon placing the final fork bite to the mouth, with busboys hovering over tables, as if starving to change the table. No question, staff has been ordered to get patrons in & out, for at least 5 (i figure) sittings per evening. How insullting, especially since I had been remembering delightful, relaxed, sensuous meals I savored in some taverna along the coast of a Greek island, sipping frosty Retsina ...

So my question, why is it impossible to find a really good neighborhood eatery on the Upper West Side offering tasty food carefully prepared in a relaxed (if not refined and quiet) setting for a lovely night out? Locals certainly have money, taste, and sophistication and we DO HAVE Zabars & Fairway.

Sorry,Fairway Cafe, Quest, Aix,Picholine (last 3 overated & expensive) don't cut it. The only places I can consider close (for now) is Earthen Oven (72nd St/Columbus) and Yuki Sushi (91st/Columbus) and perhaps, Shun Lee Cafe.

why do I have to travel to the Village (West & East) and Queens and Brooklyn for fresh, well-prepared and lovely dining?

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  1. I really enjoy Cesca on 75th and Amsterdam. It can be on the expensive side, but the food is delicious and the atmosphere is incredible.

    1. I don't like Cesca, I think the food is highly overrated and the service is obtrusive.

      You seem to have missed a few of the UWS "hits" in your list. What about Compass or Telepan? Both are highly praised on this board for having great food at reasonable prices. Compass, for example, has a wonderful $35 prix fixe dinner every night of the week.

      I agree that Earthen Oven is excellent and I really enjoy eating there. The chaana pindi is my favorite dish - the tangy sauce for the chickpeas is unique and tasty.

        1. re: citified

          Had a terrible brunch At Telepan (burnt food & lackadaisal service); Cesca lunch was awful, Compass pretty uninteresting, Calle Ocho can be fun but very loud with an emphasis on the scene over the food.

          1. re: 4 seasons

            Hahaha! I am laughing because, much as I hate to admit it, being a tried n' true UWSider, now that you put it in black and white, I find myself agreeing.
            It's not that these places are not good. It's just that there is nothing really "Wow" IMHO.
            I guess that's why we keep going back to Shun Lee (which isn't really "wow" either)
            Having said that, I wouldn't hesitate to take certain friends who visit us to a place like Compass which is safe, pleasant enough and generic.

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          1. I have gone to Kefi a few times when it was really busy and I was never rushed, I had to track down the waiter. I agree the food is so so.
            My suggestion is Aloutte on Broadway between 97th and 98th Street. The food is excellent, the people are friendly. It is not, however, a palace.