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Apr 12, 2009 06:44 AM

Kellari Taverna Review

Three of us went after a Saturday matinee. Both food and service was excellent. I made a reservation although at that early hour it was not necessary. The host was very nice and as he walked us to our table at the back of the restaurant, he inquired whether we were pre-theater and we said no post-theater. We had a great table far away from the noise and had a great meal.

We had two of the three-course prix fixe and an assortment of spreads. The spreads were caviar roe, eggplant, red pepper feta and cucumber dill yogurt with a hint of jalapeno. Eggplant was too bland and my least favorite next to the feta but only because I dislike feta. Only taste of jalapeno on the yogurt was the big jalapeno sitting on top of the yogurt. Caviar roe was excellent and not too salty as it frequently is. The other 2 apps were grilled sardines and roasted beets with greens and garlic almond mousse. The entrees were a grilled lavraki, meditarrrean sea bass which was delicious, simply grilled with some capers on top and fabulous and vegetable moussaka which was quite good too. Desserts were vanilla custard with phyllo dough and baklava. I loved the custard and not the baklava but then I never like baklava. Always find it too hard and too sweet. We told the waiter that we were sharing everything and he brought us plates and put all dishes in the middle for each course. He also brought us serving spoons with each dish. Really a good meal and I can’t wait to go back. Lastly, when we left it was quite busy with many people waiting out front which I did not notice until I went to the front to go the restroom and we were never rushed at all. As a matter of fact, we had to request the check after dessert and coffee was finished which we said was an added credit to their service.

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  1. Thanks for the report, G3B.

    While we have not been to Kellari Taverna, our current favorite Greek spot is their sister restaurant, Kellari's Parea, on 20th St., b/t Park Av. S. & B'way. Delicious mezzes and one of the best moussakas I've had anywhere. Their specialty is whole fresh fish, and they have a very wide selection displayed on ice. As you have noted at Taverna, Parea's kitchen does an expert grilling job, keeping the fish moist and flavorful. Like at Taverna, service at Parea is friendly and efficient. Very attractive, comfortable atmospherics as well.

    One caveat. On Friday nights, they have live entertainment, and it is LOUD! It is set up in the back dining area. If you're sitting there, it's *very* hard on the ears, and conversation becomes totally impossible!

    7 Replies
    1. re: RGR

      It's funny. I have only been to Parea once for weekday lunch last year and did not especially like it and thought that I would like it much better given that I like Taverna. I chose Parea because of it's affiliation with Taverna and we needed to be in that area. Well I guess I will have to give that one another try if if is your favorite Greek. Perhaps I went on an off day. It was quiet though, I remember there only being a few tables, not sure which day I went, except that it was pouring so maybe that had something to do with it.

      1. re: G3B

        We've only had dinner at Parea. Several times just the two of us, but also twice with large groups, and everyone praised the food. The one dish I would avoid is the 24-hour lamb because it's been inconsistent -- first time quite good, but the next, dried out. Sad for me because I love lamb.

        Ethos used to be our "go to" Greek in the Gramercy/Murray Hill area. But to be honest, while the food's very good, the seating is extremely cramped (unless you can catch a booth), and when it's full, the noise level can be excruciatingly high. Also, while they take reservations, when you get there, I've found it doesn't mean much. Parea accepts reservations, the welcome is warm, and they seat diners promptly.

        1. re: RGR

          I love Ethos too and usually go for an early dinner or at lunch time to avoid the crowds. I totally agree that the seating at both Parea and Taverna is much better than Ethos. Although some of the two tops at Taverna are close together, there are only about 3 or 4 in a row, so not as bad as Ethos.

          1. re: RGR

            You are so right about the cramped seating and noise level at Ethos. Hard to enjoy the dining experience.

            1. re: City Kid

              Has anyone here been to the Ethos on 51st and First? And........????

              1. re: erica

                Yes, I have been to the 1st ave outpost and happy to report that the food is good. Similar menu items to the third ave branch but a little more expensive but MUCH less cramped and more comfortable.

                1. re: Farfalle

                  Thanks very much! It is in my area and I am delighted to hear any reports of good food nearby! We are so deprived!

      2. Kellari is one of my favorites and the prix fixe is an incredible bargain. I also love the squid appetizer -- grilled with lemon -- and the Greek cookies for dessert. Other nice features: relaxing ambiance and great service. If you just want to grab something at the bar they have huge hunks of beautiful cheese and bread plus cookies to have with drinks.

        1. I am a fan of the 44 Street Kellari so thought I would try Kellari Parea for friend's recent birthday lunch, advising waiter to "do something" if she orders dessert.

          The spanikopita (sp) had one of the best fillings ever, the dolmas were just okay, the
          salmon quite moist. However, she ordered the balavah which was delivered by
          2 singing waiters AND the owner who had previously come over to introduce himself.
          Then two flutes of champagne arrived w/blueberries.
          Then two shots of something I can't pronounce.

          Thought they went beyond the pale to appreciate their customers so I definitely
          will be back.

          1. Good food, but not great food. I found the fish to be fairly expensive, even for midtown. The digs are comfortable though and while the service is warm, it is not particularly competent. I have been twice and both times I was forced to wait for quite a while for a table since they overbooked my prime time slot on Thursday evening.