May 21, 2007

Cinco de Mayo in the Greek Isles...

Greek cuisine is having a revival in New York City, according to a recent New York magazine article. However, the current surge in Aegean restaurants seems to be centered around so-called “modern” or “Greek-inspired” restaurants that are not kind to the wallet. Ethos, by contrast, is the real deal, without fusion flash, just fresh, delicious and affordable delights.

A recent Saturday night with a favorite neighborhood Mexican a total mob scene (well it happened to be Cinco de Mayo!), and after fruitless waiting on line to see "The Gates" documentary at the Tribeca Film Festival (at a Kips Bay movie theater, not quite as cool, but still), hunger pains had taken over. Jill suggested Ethos at 3rd Ave and 33rd. There was a line, but the smiling host quickly found us a table - Jill was a regular! Preferential treatment, I dig it, but still felt a tad guilty as we were whisked ahead of the couple in front of us; the twinge quickly passed. Various objets adorn the brick walls and colorful lamps hang from the ceiling, but somehow it avoids being kitschy; and the lighting is flattering.

We started with Taramosalata, fresh and creamy with just the right amount of lemon and garlic, a great substitute for the guacamole deprived. The menu offers all the classic mezze- tsatziki, skordalia, etc. A basket of warm pita and olive-studded bread arrived promptly after our server took the order (and he was very cute too, always a plus, G - just your type). We shared everything, as portions are huge. Next came a classic Greek salad. I’d have preferred a few more chunks of feta, but it certainly wasn’t stingy and the dressing was perfectly seasoned. Charcoal-grilled baby octopus followed (a big baby!), with delicious smoky flavor, hints of oregano, and just enough snap. Still desirous of comfort food, aka something gooey, we embraced tradition and moved on to Moussaka "baked in a clay pot". Layers of delight... Other standouts include whole grilled fish, priced by the pound and filleted table side. The souvlaki looked yummy too, and juicy.

Ethos has a full bar and decent selection of Greek and other wines. A glass of crisp Robola paired well with all the dishes. At the end of the meal, a flaky cheese “Danish” with a drizzle of honey arrived at the table; it was on the house and came with a smile. All for $36! Yum. A Greek Cinco de Mayo, now that's my type of fusion.

Will try to get in one more post before my whirlwind trip, but with my lame blogging track record, I won't promise anything.

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