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Matyson or Kanella

c
chestercountygal Aug 10, 2009 11:08 AM

I've been drooling over the reviews of these 2 restaurants the past few days and it's time to make a decision.

It's clear to me that I will need to return soon (hopefully) to try whichever one I do not choose, but if you needed to pick a place for a "get away from the kids" overnight in the city (Saturday dinner), which would you choose? Help!

And if you have a nice red wine recommendation (honestly, we like anything that is not sweet) I'm all ears .

Been reading this board on and off for a few years but this is my first post.

  1. c
    chestercountygal Aug 16, 2009 11:15 AM

    well, we went to Kanella. Had a reservation for 7pm but had to wait a bit for a table (a table of 6 had called and was told they could come but only outside was still available. Well, they showed up with a 90+ something year old and said they *had* to eat inside. I hate people like that...) Anyway, it wasn't a problem for us, and the hostess opened our wine and was very gracious and apologetic (but we had not problem waiting - I wasn't up for sitting outside or we could have been seated immediately). I think we were seated by 7:30ish and had a nice little cozy table for 2 against the wall. With a good view of many dishes that passed by from the kitchen :).

    Overall, we enjoyed the dinner just as much as we have others that have cost far more $. The whole meal was wonderful, there was nothing that we didn't love; granted we didn't try anything too off the beaten path.

    We started with the trio of dips (baba ganoush, potato garlic and lentil) and enjoyed them (for me, the potato one was just okay) and the pita. Also sampled the bureki which was served with a wonderful beet & onion type of salad that was a great complement to the sweetness of the honey. My husband had the moussaka - I would have bet money he would have ordered that - and it was totally delightful. I wish I could get the recipe. Yum. I had the fish filet special - tiger fish? served on a bed of brothy black-eyed peas and diced veggies mixture . It was very, very good. We ended with a trio of ice creams - cardamom, mint and lavender. Exceptionally creamy and very nice. Sigh.... we want to go back...

    1 Reply
    1. re: chestercountygal
      f
      feklar42 Aug 17, 2009 05:53 AM

      I'm glad you had a good experience. I wish mousakka had been an option for our dinner--I love it. Maybe I'll give them a second chance for that.

    2. f
      feklar42 Aug 12, 2009 01:05 PM

      I think you are asking about two places with such distinct styles and philosophies, that there's not much comparison or overlap.

      My experiences at both places has been mixed. I don't know the menu, but went to a huge multi-course feast at Kanella a month or so ago. The apps, sides and desserts were wonderful--the salas/dips platter was better than the "8 salads" platter at Zahav IMO. The desserts were some of the best mediterranean style desserts I had in the US. However, I found both meat dishes very unappetizing. I rarely like skin or fat on my meat--I didn't even like bacon until the last 10 years, I still can't eat chicken wings--and the chef takes a 'naturalist' approach to meat.

      At the party this translated to a) half a piglet head on our table (I sent it back, some of my tablemates looked like they were going to vomit--another table hid theirs in a corner of the table) and b) poorly butchered, fatty and slightly gamey chunks of meat. The chunk of lamb I had still had so much muscle sheath, I could barely get at it. And when I did saw through it, the meat was greasy and not particularly flavorful. The piglet was covered in a thick layer of fat and skin, again there was little seasoning and minimal butchering. I understand the 'eat the whole animal' philosophy and I can even agree that I'm a selfish meat eater since I find so many cuts (forget offal) inedible, but that doesn't mean I have to accept it or eat foods I find unpleasant. The irony is that large piles of meat were left untouched or rejected at several tables when they might have been eaten if the presentation had been a bit less 'natural'.

      Matyson is the complete opposite. They have offal dishes, but everything is very precisely and delicately prepared, as opposed to just quartering a limb and calling it a day. I have had dishes I thought were great there and others I was indifferent to, but nothing that I wanted to just get off the table. So far, I like the apps, soups and sides better than the mains.

      3 Replies
      1. re: feklar42
        c
        chestercountygal Aug 13, 2009 08:29 AM

        hmmmm, thanks for your interesting reply We don't eat pig and I was thinking more of fish anyway but I'm glad to have your warning! (Zahav's is on my list to try soon too.)

        1. re: chestercountygal
          b
          barryg Aug 13, 2009 08:47 AM

          Kanella is also known for their whole grilled fish, I've heard its great but never tried it.

          1. re: chestercountygal
            joluvscards Aug 15, 2009 05:11 AM

            If you like fish I would definitely go to Matyson. We may be biased because we love Matyson and were very underwhelmed with Kanella.

        2. sockii Aug 11, 2009 03:03 PM

          I love Matyson so my vote would be for that, but have not been to Kanella to compare (I'm not a big fan of Greek food in general so the menu hasn't inspired me to want to check it out). That said I usually like Matyson on weeknights when they do their tasting menu along with the regular menu...my SO and I go when there's a tasting menu that strikes our fancy so one of us gets that, the other orders off the menu, and we get to sample a lot of different things.

          1. c
            chestercountygal Aug 10, 2009 06:50 PM

            Thanks for your replies. I have a call in to see if I can get a table at Kanella - that may make the decision for us (it's this Saturday we're talking about. Matyson had tables on opentable). if I can't get in for dinner we may have to go for breakfast/lunch the next day :).

            My husband loves Indian and Greek food. I think he'll be happy at Kanella.

            As for wine - in recent years it became clear to us that we could not tell much difference between many $7-12 bottles of wine and $20 bottles (now, the pricier stuff, we CAN tell a difference but for now we don't often spend a lot on wine) so yes, actually Red Guitar is one of our stand-bys. I was thinking of getting something a bit more of a splurge but maybe I'll just grab something we have sitting here. Or maybe we'll look downtown and see what we see :)

            3 Replies
            1. re: chestercountygal
              caga tio Aug 11, 2009 06:43 AM

              Keep in mind that Kanella is not Indian, but Cypriot. Still delicious though.

              1. re: caga tio
                c
                chestercountygal Aug 11, 2009 12:56 PM

                oh, I know. I was just trying to say that he loves all kinds of food. I myself am not the hugest fan of Indian food though I have enjoyed a few meals. But I do love Mediterranean influenced foods. DH esp loves moussaka and eggplant in general. Even when I cook it :).

                1. re: chestercountygal
                  j
                  jaba Aug 11, 2009 02:30 PM

                  Kanella's moussaka is quite good.

            2. k
              Karen K Aug 10, 2009 03:57 PM

              Was at Kanella last week and enjoyed the food AND the service very much. My vote goes to Kanella.

              1. k
                kmsue Aug 10, 2009 02:49 PM

                I would have to say my vote goes to Kanella- overall I had a much more enjoyable experience there. But truthfully, you really can't go wrong with either place.

                As for a red wine, have you ever tried Red Guitar? It's a nice mellow, cheap wine from Spain (I think they go for about $11-13/bottle)

                1. s
                  sylviag Aug 10, 2009 01:35 PM

                  My choice would be Matyson.
                  Although I loved my appetizer at Kanella - and dessert - both my husband and I were not thrilled with our entrees. The carbs (grains?), and also the general flavor of my husband's stew kind of dish, had a strong flavor that was not to our taste.
                  There was nothing wrong with the food, and most people probably love it, but we also are not big fans of Indian cuisine. I don't even know which seasonings were giving us trouble. I left half my platter.
                  I certainly want to go back another time and order differently - probably grilled fish with nothing accompanying it.
                  We have other friends who tried Kanella and don't love it. As I said, it's not that there is anything wrong with the food - it's probably excellent - but as with many ethnic cuisines, it has to suit your taste.
                  If you always like everything, then go for it.
                  At Matyson, I can eat anything on the menu and enjoy it.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: sylviag
                    r
                    rocknroll52 Aug 11, 2009 07:07 AM

                    Kanella is Greek cypriot not Indian!

                    1. re: rocknroll52
                      s
                      sylviag Aug 11, 2009 07:18 AM

                      I understand that it is Cypriot, not Indian. I probably didn't make it clear - I just added that we don't care much for Indian food to make the point that we don't love all cuisines.
                      We love sushi; some people won't eat raw fish. I'll try just about anything, and often end up liking something new.

                      I know that not appreciating certain cuisines is a loss on our part - I would like to enjoy everything. But - there is enough stuff I love to send me back to Weight Watchers!

                  2. p
                    padovana Aug 10, 2009 12:00 PM

                    I'd actually go with Matyson over Kanella in general, but I think that Kanella might be better for a summer dinner... something about Greek (ahem, Cyriot) in this weather that is very attractive. I don't know when you intend to go, but I'd check out Matyson's menu ahead of time as they change it every week.. see how interested you are in their offerings.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: padovana
                      r
                      rocknroll52 Aug 10, 2009 12:26 PM

                      I'll put in my vote for Kanella. I thought the service was extremely welcoming Kanella...my experience as Matyson was not as good, thought the server was pretty stuck up and it really affected my enjoyment of the meal..make sure you order the dips of the day.

                      PS For the wine, I would choose a California Sauvignon Blanc.

                    2. b
                      Buckethead Aug 10, 2009 11:34 AM

                      I'd choose Kanella personally, but that's just me.

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