Kokkari, pros, cons, comparisons?
Wondering if this place is worth a try. It seems quite expensive for Greek but maybe the room is much nicer than usual or necessary for this cuisine.
It seems to have a high rating but I am very skeptical. Can anyone compare it to Greek food in NYC(which is pretty poor and overrated with very few or maybe even only 1 exception)?
How about to some of the better joints in Greece, itself? Yes, food in Greece has been on the very slippery slope for the last 5/10 years but still has plenty of goodness.
Greek food is very simple to prepare and the dishes here are not some nouveau twists and thus it comes down to ingredients which perhaps are so great they justify the prices but it all seems a stretch. Simple but proper execution is necessary but it ain't that hard, though that has not stopped the majority of restaurants from screwing it up.
Previous Kokkari posts
Sep 18, 2005
I need the scoop on Kokkari
May 09, 2004
Kokkari - yum!
Jun 08, 2003
Kokkari - report
Nov 27, 2002
Ever been to Kokkari Estiatorio?
Aug 29, 2002
Kokkari and Alma - updates
Jun 07, 2002
Kokkari Greek in SF--long
Feb 17, 2002
Weighing in on Kokkari (longish)
Sep 05, 2001
Dinner at Kokkari Estiatorio (long)
Jan 25, 2001
Kokkari a BIG Disappointment
200 Jackson St., San Francisco, CA 94111
I've always had very satisfying meals there. I've never been to Greece, so I don't have that to compare to, but I love the breads and spreads, the appetizers are all delicious, and I've had great lamb and fish dishes there. I tend to leave there very full, and they've always given out lots of bread (the pita is excellent), and more if I've asked.
I like Kokkari and Evvia its sister restaurant in Palo Alto. I love the gigantes, and I've enjoyed the lamb shank. I consider taramasalata the test, and theirs passes. I've never noticed that they were stingy about bread and I've certainly never left hungry. I don't know what your "one exception" is in New York. The only Greek restaurant I've been to there lately is Pylos, on East 7th street. The food was unmemorable, and we had a table near the door which meant that our feet froze every time somebody opened it. It wasn't worth the price and I wouldn't go back. If you want good old plain Greek estiatorio cooking in the bay area, try Athena Grill in Santa Clara.
The reasons this place is so expensive have to do with location, style, size, and the crowd it caters to--IMO.
I like it quite a bit though I've posted about several disappointments in the past.
It's got a special occasion feel to it and, unless this has changed--I haven't been there in over a year--its bar's a hangout for folks like Mayors Brown and Newsom.
It is very expensive.
If I was going, I'd do my best to find out when and till what (likely) hour it was offering fireplace-cooked local lamb, far and away the best thing I've tasted there.
As your special occasion comment alludes to, Kokkari can have a bit of a stuffy feel to it, especially at lunch. This is a restaurant dominated by an older, moneyed crowd, and it has the professional service and stultified atmosphere to match.
Your table placement at Kokkari can go a long way towards determining whether you enjoy your experience. After my third or so lunch there, I began to be given two-tops in their main room with the lit fireplace - definitely a nicer room to sup in.
In terms of food, I rarely stray from their lamb rib chops. Cooked extra rare as ordered, they never arrive without a nice char or a judicious coating of herbs. The thermosalata, fried smelt, and gigante beans are some of the best appetizer bets. As Fine mentioned, your meal here won't be cheap. But nor will it be rushed in any way, take place in drab surroundings, or be marred by subpar food.
I've always enjoyed my meals at Kokkari. It's upscale Greek with a contemporary flare. The service is always spot-on, and I always leave very satisfied. I've never eaten Greek food in NYC, but I've had it elsewhere, and I feel the experience at Kokkari is miles better, BUT you also pay more.
Nothing thrilling. Nothing from my meal stands out as good Greek food or a good interpretation even. I left hungry, and glad I was being treated. Some of the flavors were right, and the room is very nice, but it just misses the mark. If I have to nibble on my bread to ration it off because theyre handing it out like it's gold, then that's not going to make for a good Greek meal. In terms of the nouveau approach, the only thing I really noticed was the portion size, otherwise, pretty traditional.
I've only eaten there once -- a lunch hosted by someone else just under a year ago.
We were there for a couple hours and dined very leisurely. The bread was replenished numerous times without our having to ask. The food server had noticed that we were using it to sop up the last droplets of sauce on the platters.