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  Occasion: Cuisine: Area: Cost: Rating:
  Night Out Greek Upper West Side Moderate Good

The last time I ate at Kefi, Michael Psilakis and Donatella Arpaia’s inviting Greek Taverna, I had never actually been to Greece. But last summer, I traveled to Greece for my honeymoon, and I returned with a more intimate knowledge of what Greek food should taste like, especially when eaten with the midday sun shining on the Aegean overlooking the sheer bluffs in Santorini. Granted, pencils would taste good in this setting, but Greek food is particularly suited to this climate. The steady heat of the summer days mixes quite well with platters of simply grilled fish and bowls of briny feta tossed with crisp cucumbers, luscious tomatoes, fat salty olives, and sweet grassy olive oil and a bottle or two of Mythos beer or Asyrtiko wine (a crisp white wine that I lived on for two weeks).

While Kefi, which recently relocated to a lofty duplex space from its relative cramped quarters on West 79th Street, cannot offer the heartbreakingly beautiful sunsets of Oia, or lazy days on the beaches of Paros, they do their best with what they’ve got on a busy stretch of Columbus Avenue. The setting is rather predictable for a Greek restaurant, but that’s not a bad thing. In fact, it’s quite nice: raw wood-beamed ceilings hung with baskets and urns, hand-painted plates adorning walls, with stretches of stone and exposed brick balancing bright white washed walls, and the sounds of Greek music playing overhead.

The upstairs room is reserved for mostly smaller groups of two or three, with the spacious windowed bar and tavern area saved for walk-ins, while the downstairs is reserved for large parties, which makes it quite a boisterous setting, one in which you might expect a spontaneous communal dancing or plate-throwing to begin.

As for the food, most of it is familiar territory for those who were fans of Kefi: reasonably priced variations on meals that include staples from the Greek pantry: olives, feta, tomatoes, capers, and potatoes. This flavor profile is repeated in almost every dish, and as Frank Bruni pointed out in his review, this redundancy may lead a sort of palate fatigue, but for me, it tasted like Greece. And that was just fine.

To pair up with dinner, there’s a fun selection of cocktails including the Athenian, mixed from Maker’s Mark, with mavrodaphne, and spiced syrup ($9), an Ouzo Sour made from Metxa ouzo, grapefruit, sugar and lemon ($8), and a Greek Margarita made from ... [more, click below]

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Other restaurants in Upper West Side :
+ 'Cesca   + Asiate   + Blue Hill Stone Barns   + Per Se   + The Neptune Room   + Spigolo   + Telepan   + Aix Brasserie   + 'Cesca   + Bar Boulud   + Dovetail   + BarBao   + Dinosaur Bar-be-Que   + Kefi   + Bar Luna   + Ed's Chowder House   + Red Rooster, by Rachel Barbarotta   + Loi by Dara Pollak   

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