Thu Jun 29 2006
Photograph: Ben Rosenzweig
Time Out Ratings :<strong>Rating: </strong>0/5
36 E 20th St between Broadway and Park Ave South (212-777-8448). Subway: N, R, W, 6 to 23rd St. Mon--Thu, Sun 5:30--11pm; Fri, Sat 5:30pm--midnight. Average main course: $26.
This sexy newcomer’s sleek leather chairs and white walls with undulating waves suggest a place where scene trumps cuisine. But appearances are misleading. Award-winning chef-restaurateur Michael Symon—who made a name for himself in Cleveland at Lola and Lolita—has crafted an upscale Greek menu like nothing else in this city. Most of the dishes stick with traditional Mediterannean ingredients: yogurt, feta, olives, lamb and fresh fish. But each displays something clever, original and delicious. The goat meat in crispy goat dumplings was a luscious, gamey confit. Grilled lamb loin came with a sauce of pureed roasted figs, shallots, honey and thick Greek yogurt, and a wonderfully bracing arugula and fresh-mint salad—the spiciness of the arugula paired beautifully with the invigorating freshness of the mint. Saganaki, a spongy manouri gratin appetizer with fig-and-wine relish and candied walnuts, could have been dessert. By the evening’s end, it was clear that Parea elevates what is all too often a predictably rustic cuisine to one that is truly modern and refined.—TONY