Restaurants , Greek Upper West Side
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Photograph: Jeffrey Gurwin


Photograph: Jeffrey Gurwin
Photograph: Jeffrey Gurwin


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Michael Psilakis (Anthos) has made himself the face of Greek cuisine in New York City. His latest endeavor, Kefi, launched two years ago as a tiny hideaway on the Upper West Side, and again last December in a larger space a few blocks from the now-closed original. The first version was a charming find, but the latest smacks of a dining factory. The two floors exude chaos from arrival (a 30-minute wait for a reserved table) to ordering (spreads and pita showed up an hour after we requested them). All this despite the fact that it's run by front of house talent Donatella Arpaia. It's hard to complain, however, given that Psilakis offers often excellent food at bargain prices. No starter runs more than $10, including moist beef-and-pork meatballs in a sauce that crosses marinara with tapenade. The entres, meanwhile, stay under $17—even the perfectly charred grilled branzino fillets. More standard Greek offerings, like chewy octopus and bland braised lamb, were often dull. Antithetically, Psilakis is at his best with pastas (macaroni and feta cheese bound with bchamel, pillowy sheep's-milk dumplings with lamb sausage). A dessert (galaktobouriko) that must translate into "phyllo-wrapped custard" was another winner. Given the prices, the misfires are relatively painless, the hits revelations. Whether anyone wants to spend two hours here is another question.

Venue name: Kefi
Address: 505 Columbus Ave
New York

Cross street: between 84th and 85th Sts
Opening hours: Mon 5–10pm; Tue–Thu noon–3pm, 5–10pm; Fri, Sat noon–3pm, 5–11pm; Sun 11am–3pm, 5–10pm
Transport: Subway: B, C to 86th St
Price: Average main course: $13. AmEx, MC, V
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lily r

Reasonably priced with a very vibrant, bright and authentic atmosphere, Kefi is a great Upper West Side brunch or dinner spot. My favorite portion of the restaurant is the downstairs, which, I imagine, feels like an island restaurant in Greece. This is a great escape in the winter - it has transportive powers. Everything on the menu is very fresh and flavorful; you can't go wrong!