BIRTHDAY DINNER: 12.26.11 @ 5:45 PM
The day after Christmas and the streets of Financial District were mesmerizing with dazzling holiday lights. Enrique and I admired the holiday scene that surrounded us. The evening was cold, quiet and breathtaking, almost magical.
The nice stroll set the mood for what was yet to come--an equally magnificent birthday dinner at Kokkari. His birthday, not mine; but I wanted to make him feel special. And Kokkari provided the perfect venue.
Kokkari was beautiful, old-world and rustic. The interior was decorated in earth tones with thick wood, exposed wooden beams, high ceilings, copper pots and brick walls. It was a nice treat to be seated with a full view of the wood-fire oven where a whole lamb and 1/2 dozen chickens were slowly roasting in the open fireplace. The chairs were luxuriously comfortable padded seats.
Kokkari was divided into 2 sections and bi-leveled. We sat in the dining room where the wood-fire oven and bar were located. It was cozier than the bigger although equally handsome dining room. A private dining room is located in the lower level.
While the venue was classy, the friendly service made one feel comfortable and relaxed. Service was very attentive, professional yet accompanied by genuine smiles. Our glasses were never half empty, dishes were removed as if on cue and our server even helped us to our coats at the end of the meal.
I had a Cosmopolitan ($11) pre-dinner and a glass of Napa '08 Cabernet with my lamb. The Cosmo was well-made, not sweet and strong while the Cab was generously poured and silky.
MUSHROOM WITH FRIED KEFALOTIRI CHEESE $12: Sauteed fresh mushrooms served with fried Greek cheese.
*The tenderness of the mushroom was a nice compliment to the slighly chewy cubed cheeses. A nice 2 in 1 treat!
GRILLED ARTICHOKE AND EGGPLANT SKEWERS (AGINARES SOUVLAKI) $12: Served with Greek yogurt - $12
*Delicious in its simplicity. This dish celebrated the earthy tastes of the vegetables.
LAMB ROTISSERIE $32: Spiced lamb skewer grilled with roasted potatoes.
*Probably the best lamb dish that I have ever had. Simply grilled, big tender chunks of slow-roasted lamb cubes. Moist with the faintest hint of the natural gamey taste of the lamb. The potatoes were a meal in themselves. They were big chunks of crispy on the outside but tender on the inside roasted potatoes. I really enjoyed this meal.
DRY-AGED RIBEYE STEAK (MOSHARISIA) $42- charcoal-grilled, dry-aged rib-eye with braised greens and Kokkari potatoes.
*The Birthday Man's meal. His eyes turned big when he saw the big piece of steak and potatoes placed in front of him. He enjoyed every bite and had to take home the rest. I even got to try the steak when I turned them into a steak sandwich the next day. He enjoyed it the second time around. I gnawed on othe bone and fatty parts-- tender perfectly medium rare oozing with its natural juices and perfectly seasoned in subtle Greek spices. A perfect piece of Ribeye!
KOKKARI SUNDAE (COMPLIMENTARY) - chocolate & vanilla ice cream with hot fudge, whipped cream & toasted hazelnuts - $10
*Just a simple sundae but well-made and nicely presented with a blue candle on top. This was the Birthday Man's requested birthday dessert. Nothing exotic but a sweet way to end a perfect birthday meal!
Since the important person in this review was the Birthday Man, his opinion was heavily solicited. He said it was a perfect meal and enjoyed every aspect of it--from the classy venue to the gracious service to the perfect piece of steak.
Kokkari does know how to make one feel special on their special day. They comped us the Kokkari Sundae and every staff who dropped by our table greeted him "Happy Birthday." Thanks, Kokkari.
CHECK: $175 with 20% tip, 2 Pellegrino and hefty