"I have the simplest tastes. I am simply satisfied with the best." - Oscar Wilde

"I came, I saw, I ate." - Au Gourmand

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Kefi - July 3, 2010


Each civilization has its day: The Greeks had it when Plato walked on Earth; when the Parthenon was built; and when Nike of Samothrace was placed, well in Samothrace. A great civilization also leaves a great culinary tradition (OK, with the exception of the Egyptian). While simple salads, grilled seafood and stewed meats were probably the haute cuisine that the creme of the society enjoyed in 500 B.C., but in 21st Century, the Greek cuisine lacks the sophistication when compared to, for example, Tournedos Rossini,* Tuite de Mer Pochee Sauce Verte,** kaiseki, or even a Peking duck.

As for desserts...the word, "dessert," in Greek is singular. I know this without speaking a word of Greek because there is only one kind of dessert in Greece: Baklava. It is the evil pastry drenched in sickly sweet syrup - which, if you attempt to cut with anything less than a laser beam, will spill the sticky syrup all over the plate, table and yourself as a sort of self-defense mechanism. Wait, this is not the worst. After all the trouble you go through to reach the center, what do you find? This indestructible dough only hides a green monster made of little green nuts - which are perfectly delicious if roasted and salted, but when ground and sweetened and hiding in baklava and dropped and forgot in syrup...sigh. First of all, why would anyone drench a good flaky pastry to unflake it? A good pate feuillete is made of 144 layers so that we can enjoy our share of mass destruction when we bite into all 144 layers of pure bliss. Now, a phyllo is not pate feuillete, but...sigh. People are so difficult to understand sometimes...
*Steak with foie gras and truffle.
**I solemnly swear that I only looked up the spelling in my Le Cordon Bleu book. For the benefit of illustration, it is poached trout covered by transparent cucumber scales with green sauce. No, I did not make it up, and yes, it looks a little scary.


I have to say one word (or many words) about the bread: It was seriously good. Moist and full of the savory wheat flavor but with a nice hard crust. This is the kind of bread that a restaurant should be proud to serve, which people will enjoy eating while waiting (instead of killing time by rolling them into little balls).

Lamb Burger

Whatever you have read about Kefi's lamb burger, believe it. So, read other reviews, and come back here.

Preliminary hurdle: Tactile Test - Pass

What does a good burger need? It is not a trick question. You think it is meat? Well, that is more like an assumption: We cannot even start a semi-intelligent discussion about burgers without good meat. So, try again. OK, let me tell you, then: The biggest hurdle, which throws off many, in fact, most burgers, is the buns. Allow me retract the word - "buns" - because it is associated firmly in my mind with that soggy, sloppy, soft weakling of baked starch, which if called "bread," I am sure, most of the boulangeries in France will either have a riot or a heart attack. Yes, it is that piece of yellowish carbohydrate you usually get, which cannot withstand the liquid goodness of the meat without disintegrating.

Thankfully, Kefi uses real bread, which is of well-balanced firmness to stand up to the juice emanating from the lamb (I refuse to use the word, "patty." Don't you think it sounds rather, well, idiotic?). Now, I can proceed with the taste examination.


Meat: Good - Juicy and very tasty, but was it lamb? You could have fooled me. I am not complaining, but was it lamb or veal or beef or what? Or has genetic engineering advanced to a stage to breed a hybrid of all three?

Meat with bread: Good - Bread had enough good wheaty savoriness but not so much to fight against the lamb.

Meat with bread, plus feta cheese - Outstanding. Feta, feta, feta, where have you been? Blue cheese is delicious, but you are lovely on my palate, too.


Refreshingly cool salad: Good.

Home-made potato chips: How can it be bad?

Sheep Milk Dumplings

At Kefi, sheeps and lambs are very well-behaved (or genetically engineered) so that the typically sheepy, lamby, tangy smell or taste do now show at all. Had the dish been bad, you would have heard me going on on the lack of sheep forever, but you are spared this time because the dumplings were delicious.

Despite dubious contribution from the sheep milk in terms of taste, the soft texture of the dumplings (well, they were gnocchi) were infinitely accommodating to the strong sauce of sun-dried tomatoes, spinach and spicy lamb sausages (here, I could actually taste the lamb). The dumplings' mildness went perfectly with the boldness of the sauce. If I say, I will order it again, is that enough said?


The Kefi menu starts each dish with the English name, then follows it with the Greek name in italics: For example, Sheep Milk Dumplings are "anikta tyropitakla" something something. However, when it comes to Galaktobouriko, it is "galaktobouriko." Very helpful. The mystery, however, was soon solved by the waitress: "Oh, it's like a flan." A flan! To a flan fetish, there was no other choice. I had to have it. The liquid look put me slightly on guard, but, it is a flan, right? Bravely and blindly, I took a bite: "You too, Kefi?" (Sorry, it is the wrong country, but I had to do it). It is an eggy baklava...

(The only edible baklava, edible meaning, I would condescend to eat more than an obligatory mouthful if someone wants to share, is Milos Estiatorio's. Other that this, keep them away from me, please.)

1 comment:

  1. Totally agree with the bun part of the burger. I'd use good thick pieces of toast over burger buns any day.