HOME > Chowhound > Manhattan >
Apr 1, 2009 07:57 AM

Kefi Review -- Mediocre

Went there last night for the first time, w/ my father and two of his friends...

While it wasn't bad, i wasn't terribly impressed either...

When i called to make the reservation, the woman who answered , while very pleasant, sounded rather clueless, like she was completely new to the whole concept of taking reservations: "Wow, huh! Well, uhhhh, what TIME? 7:30? Cool. Lemme check. Uhhhh, maybe more like 8:15? Wow i should check and make sure!"...kind of odd...given her confusion and having heard about the crowds there, i asked her if she was really sure 8:15 would be fine, because my dad's friends would be driving into the city and prob wouldn't be the kind of folks who are used to standing in a hectic long-wait kind of situation...she answered that we absolutely would have a table waiting for us at 8:15...

As it turned out, the place was packed and we had to wait about 25+ minutes for a table...no biggee for me, but not so good for my dad and the others...

Food was average/mediocre...i didn't care for their take on the Greek salad, which is shredded and chopped, and has a dressing that's faintly sweet -- tasted like something that would be dished out from industrial-size quantities in a giant cafeteria...not authentic, and bit mushy...i had the grilled branzino: preparation was solid (crispy skin, moist flakey flesh) but the fish didn't taste particularly fresh...neither item was "bad" but neither item was anything i'd ever order again...

Another annoying thing: two of the other people each ordered the Greek salad, followed by a chicken souvlaki...when the chicken souvlaki came, we were surprised to see that it came *with* a side Greek salad...did it say so on the menu?...i don't know...but any even half-decent waiter would have pointed that out when he took the order...(especially since i cheerfully told him when we sat down that it was our first visit to Kefi and we were excited to try their food, etc)...

i didn't try the dishes the other people got, and i have to admit that they didn't order particularly adventurously (roast chicken, a feta appetizer, etc)...i wish i'd gotten to sample a wider variety of what Kefi offers, so my review of the place could be a bit more thorough...and i do know that the best way to eat Greek food is order an array of appetizers and entrees and share everything (i actually lived on a Greek island for several years when i was a kid)...and, the grilled octopus w/ chick peas appetizer that i saw sitting on another table looked very tasty...

Totally subjective and non-food related, i also wasn't crazy about the crowd, which felt like a scene from the Hamptons (lots of argyle, various other ugly preppy sweaters, and quite a few particularly awkward-looking first-date two-tops)...it's also a fairly loud place...

I'd almost be tempted to go back sometime and try that octopus appetizer at the bar, but given my overall "meh" feeling about the place, i'm unlikely to return....

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I haven't been to the new one yet. You would have enjoyed the original in its early days...and probably its predecessor, Onera.

    1. Simon, I couldn't agree with you more in re to the food and the host. I went only once approximately 2 years ago before they moved. Host, who very well may have been different back then, was also clueless bordering on uninterested and rude. The service and food were just barely okay. I never could quite understand the rave reviews of this place. Having been to Greece and after growing up with a close friend whose mom cooked amazing Greek food for us all the time, I really don't get it. Your entire description, right down to the crowd, is entirely right on. For one reason, someone deemed it as an in-place and the rep somehow spread. Lucky for them. I'd much rather trek all the way down to Pylos even though I live near Kefi.

      1. If your food was mediocre you went on a good night..

        2 Replies
        1. re: Daniel76

          If you didn't get the food thrown at you, you went on a good night...

          1. re: Cpalms

            you've both been on here for quite some time. glad to see we all agree. i thought i was crazy.

        2. "when the chicken souvlaki came, we were surprised to see that it came *with* a side Greek salad...did it say so on the menu?...i don't know...but any even half-decent waiter would have pointed that out when he took the order"

          This is an issue I've noticed.

          I've only ever been in Greece briefly, with a stomach flu or something, and therefore limited in what I could eat at that time. But that said, I haven't experienced any of the other things you or the other participants in this thread are talking about. My food at Kefi has without exception been at the very least solidly good every time, and more consistently good than Pylos (by the way, talk about a mob scene on weekends!). I don't care about what the other diners are like, and I've never had a problem with any of the staff, either. To paraphrase nativeNYer, lucky for me.

          6 Replies
          1. re: Pan

            I'm with Pan. There is a lot of Kefi backlash happening these days, and I don't doubt that the OP had a negative experience, but I've also had consistently good food every time I have been to Kefi. I also enjoy the atmosphere. I understand feeling like it doesn't live up to the considerable hype, but for my money its a place to which I will continue to return.

            1. re: prdct

              fair enough...like i said, i didn't hate it or anything -- nothing truly awful...just didn't care for it...

              1. re: Simon

                I also want to make clear that I believe everyone in this thread actually had the experiences they say they had. They just are quite different from the experiences I've had, and as long as my experiences are good, I keep going to and recommending a restaurant.

                1. re: Pan

                  Yes--me too. I did not mean to imply otherwise. I just wanted to add my two cents in a thread that had gone from Simon's very balanced review to a bit of bashing--just to let people know that my experiences have actually been quite postive.

              2. re: prdct

                Has anybody ever been for brunch? Their website really isn't functional yet and I can't find a brunch menu anywhere else.

                1. re: jinglejangle

                  There really isn't a brunch menu. It's just lunch items.

                  I'm with Pan. I've been to both the old and new locations multiple times and have never once had any problems. Service has always been attentive and our waiters have offered to change sides or give suggestions. In fact when my friend was deciding on souvlakia or the salad, the waiter actually told her the sandwich had salad on the side. I also tend to stick to my favorites - the spreads, meatballs, lamb shank, dumplings, and the rabbit pasta.Which have never once disappointed me.

                  It's unfortunate some of you had some terrible experiences. I guess I've been lucky then.

            2. Sorry you didn't enjoy your experience. I hope it was an isolated one because I had a great time there last night. I made reservations about an hour before we showed up and had no problems with the reservationist. When we got there we were seated right away. I was surprised how busy it was on a Sunday night.

              I really liked our waitress, and she steered us to some of the more popular dishes. We ordered the calamari, sweetbreads, lamb shank and sheep's milk dumplings with sausage. The calamari was well-fried and served with a really thick yogurt dill sauce and some crumbled fried black olives. I loved that they fried a slice of lemon. The sweetbreads were wonderful, served in a tangy lemony sauce with caperberries. Yum! I never had caperberries before and they were quite good! Lamb shank was tender and delicious. And I LOVED the dumplings. Thy were so tender. Tasted similar to ricotta gnocchi. Served with a sauce made of sun-dried tomatoes and very spicy sausage. Would say that these dumplings are a must-order. We shared a galatoboureko which was served warm with some candied orange peels on top. Not the hugest fan of Greek desserts, but this was prepared well.

              Talking about crowd, I was stuck next to a pretty obnoxious loud guy throughout my meal. No argyle, but he did scream that he thought this woman was hot but that she was 30 and she's got too much mileage on her p***y! I thought it was amusing, and tried my best to not start cracking up, but I can find some people getting offended. For those of you who are claustrophobic, Kefi wouldn't be the best restaurant for you. It is pretty crowded and loud there. But if you want a very good meal (especially at the relatively inexpensive price point), I think it's a gem.