222 West 79th Street off Amsterdam Avenue
$45 for two people, with one drink, without tip
I was really surprised at how Onera had changed. The navy blue and white walls remained so I was taken aback when I walked in the lower-level space of Kefi. I was even more shocked when our bill was delivered. Sure, I didn’t have any wine that night and we made a meal out of several mezes, but it’s been a long time since the Dr. and I have spent less than $50 on dinner.
Chef Michael Psilakis’ Onera was one of my favorite places during its heyday. Gone are the long tables and nice chairs but the straightforward taverna food is still on the menu. I was recovering from being sick and when my appetite came back, I was pining for warm pita and an octopus. (I’m weird like this often.) When the spreads were served, I couldn’t stop myself from eating them. The yogurt was tart, the caviar salty, the eggplant mushy and the hummus garlicky–four sensations I wouldn’t ask less of on any given night. The sweetbreads were crispy with breaded onion rings and an addicting sauce with giant capers. I’m not the biggest fan of capers but they were excellent with the offal. (Oh, the offal tasting menu of Onera!) I would have wanted the octopus with a crispier crust but I absolutely loved the bed of chickpeas and black-eyed peas with parsley. If not for the overwhelming garlic in the mashed potatoes, the cod would have been one of the best fish dishes I’ve had as of late. Not that all the garlic stopped us. Everything tasted like they were done out of love; like a Greek grandma was in the kitchen telling us to “Eat, eat, eat!” because all our dishes were served all at once. Greek food I must say, is a cuisine I started to love as soon as I started taking photographs of my food, and it will be in New York City to stay.