19. June 2005 Greek, Upper West Side 0

222 West 79th Street between Broadway and Amsterdam
about $200 for two, with two drinks, with tip
♥ ♥ ♥

Updated, 2007: Chef Michael Psilakis has turned Onera into cash-only Kefi. He has also opened Anthos at 36 West 52nd Street off Fifth Avenue, 212/582.6900

My party was forty minutes late but the Onera staff was very accommodating. Perhaps I was already sitting and consuming alcohol at the bar and they had no other choice but to wait for my seven other diningmates. When they finally showed up, our table for eight was situated perfectly in the back of the tiny basement restaurant.

When my friends wanted to try something different without paying for a ridiculously expensive omakase at a sushi restaurant, I thought of Onera because Greek is not always the first thing in people’s minds when they think of dinner, so it can only be a curious choice. My friends’ filet mignon were all done the way they preferred. A couple ordered pork tenderloin and they were both delicious, served with fennel and toasted garlic velouté. I went off the too-familiar list and started with two dishes from their meze menu, or small appetizers. The sea urchin came on top of pickled beets and cheese. Everyone wanted to taste my uni and unfortunately, I had to give up three out of the five on my small plate. The scallops came with yogurt cucumber sauce and a whiff of anise. I only had three pieces so I devoured them before anyone said anything.

For my main meal, I divided my attention between the chilled roasted octopus and the crispy sweetbreads. Again, everyone’s forks were attacking my plates and I could not help but scold them for choosing the steak and the pork belly without thinking of the other items on the menu. But even though I did not have enough, the octopus was nice and tarty and the sweetbreads divine. Even with foie gras and sheep milk fraiche, the sweetbreads were not overly decadent to turn me off.

Onera did not disappoint me, nor my picky friends.