Michael Psilakis' Upper West Side Greek restaurant Kefi has always been wildly popular with locals, right from when it first opened on 79th Street in 2007, replacing Psilakis's high-end Onera. Since then, Kefi hasn't had an easy time of it.
Kefi's "rustic Greek" concept of big flavors and cheap prices proved to be such a winner that Psilakis moved into much larger digs on Columbus about a year later… only to get immediately shut down by the DOH. Twice. Then last January, just as things seemed to be falling into place, a water main broke in the basement. This put Kefi out of commission for almost a year, until FINALLY, about two months ago, Psilakis re-re-re-reopened Kefi, much to the delight of his ever-faithful fans.
The New and Improved Kefi
I went to the new Kefi right after Christmas and was kind of blown away by how good the food is now. Full disclosure: I did not enjoy the original Kefi, with their reliance on garlic and raw onion to do all the work. Frank Bruni in the NY Times called it "messy, obvious cooking". That was six years ago, so I figured Psilakis and his crew deserved a do-over, and I'm so glad I went back! Service was a bit ragged, but based on the two dishes I wolfed down before hurrying out to the movies, the kitchen at Kefi 3.0, while still cranking out bold and heavy dishes, seemed far more nuanced and balanced in its creations.
Two Delicious Options on Kefi's Menu
From the Meze section of the Kefi menu, my Grilled Octopus and Bean Salad was perfectly charred on the outside, tender within, complemented rather than overwhelmed by the cephalopod's seasoning and oily, lemony dressing on the beans. Even better, from Kefi's Macaronia options, was the fat and fluffy Sheep Milk Dumplings, which is a kind of casserole that also featured spicy lamb sausage, generous chunks of salty feta, bright tomato sauce, spinach, crunchy pine nuts, and ample amounts of garlic, all of which somehow hung together. And it was only $14.50! No way am I again waiting years before heading back here for more.
More Information: Kefi on The Upper West Side
Kefi is located on Columbus Avenue between 84th and 85th Streets, in proximity to Glenwood's Grand Tier and The Regent buildings. They start serving dinner every night at 5:00 p.m., until 10:00 on Sunday through Thursday, and until 11:00 on Friday and Saturday. Weekday lunch is from 12:00 noon to 3:00 p.m.; weekend brunch from 11:00 until 3:00.
If you've recently been to the reopened Kefi on the UWS, tell us what you thought in the comments or on our Facebook page!