Kefi is owned by Michael Psilakis and Donatella Arpaia, two very successful and passionate restaurateurs. The food at Kefi is the food that Chef Michael Psilakis loves to cook - the Greek food of his childhood and he serves this food at extremely reasonable prices. All of the starters are under $10 and the most expensive dish on his menu is $17. Kefi is the perfect neighborhood restaurant - affordable and very approachable it will bring you back again and again.
The bread at Kefi is not as interesting as you would hope, but it still is enjoyable. The bread itself is very rustic and it is served with a delicious Greek Olive Oil. However without the addition of the salt and pepper shaker the bread is quite bland. Kefi should serve pita and tzatziki sauce instead of their current bread - the warm pita and cold tzatziki go great together. That would go over really, really well.
Left: House-made Cypriot Sausage, Cucumber, Radish, Olives, Tzatziki
Right: Grilled Octopus, Bean Salad
Lets start out with the sausage, which was super moist and had TONS of flavor. You were able to taste all of the ingredients put into the sausage - oregano, lemon zest, spices, etc. The sausage on it's own would have been delicious, but there was more. The sausage was served with a cool tzatziki sauce that contrasted beautifully with the hot sausage. Warm pita was served with the dish to slop up all of the left over tzatziki. This dish was simply tasty and had a great balance of salt, heat, and acid.
The octopus was a huge hit as well. It was so fresh and sweet - it tasted like the essence of the ocean and was melt in your mouth tender. Again there was tons of flavor in this dish - oregano, lemon, tomato, etc. were all clearly tasted. The charcoal grilled octopus was served with a cold bean salad which was the perfect accompaniment. The beans (chickpea and pinto) were cooked perfectly and seasoned with great precision. There was great acidic notes in the bean salad that worked great with the rich, meaty octopus. I loved this dish and could have ordered seconds and thirds of it.
Shrimp, Orzo, Spinach, Tomato, Feta
After having those great appetizers I was so excited for my main course, but worried that it would not live up to my previous dishes. I was so wrong about that! The shrimp was butterflied and cooked flawlessly, and served along with a tomato sauce that was so light and fresh, it was sublime. The addition of the salty, acidic feta cheese added great depth to the dish. The orzo was cooked to a perfect al dente and soaked up all of the heavenly sauce. I adored this plate of food, it was great.
Galaktobouriko, Orange Spoon Fruit
I have heard many people rave of how good galaktobouriko is - the flaky filo dough contrasting with the smooth, rich custard, so I was very excited to have my first galaktobouriko at Kefi. But to be honest the galaktobouriko at Kefi was not good. The filo dough was soggy and their was way too much candied orange zest. Also, the custard was very bland and was not smooth, it had the texture of ricotta cheese. This was the first time I ever had galaktobouriko so maybe that was a good galaktobouriko, but I just do not enjoy it. I don't know, but I do know that this was the only disappointment of the night.
Overall the experience at Kefi was great. Chef Michael Psilakis does not care about putting dots on a plate, he cares about making sure everything is extremely delicious. Kefi is the place that you can go to every week and get delicious food at very affordable prices. I know that I will be back to Kefi soon and am looking forward to it.
505 Columbus Avenue, New York, NY 10024
184 8th Ave, New York, NY 10011