Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Taverna Kyclades

Thursday of wedding week I went to dine with my in-laws at Taverna Kyclades, the popular Greek restaurant in my hood.

The lineup wasn't that bad when we got in around 6.30, which subdued hubby's mom concern about the wait. We were seated inside in a table of four, although I really wanted to be outside to get some fresh air.

The menu is pretty standard with the usual Greek fare. But what is unique is their seafood, in particular their market fish. I've walked past this place many a time, and have always seen giant platters of fish flanked by sides of beets, rosemary potatoes, garlic bread, rice...

Here's a (sideway) look at their seafood menu. I was pretty tempted by the scallops, but it was kind of pricy. The stuffed fillet also looks very tempting, but unfortunately I wasn't really hungry that day to become even more stuffed. So I settled on the obvious choice - the grilled baby shark.

Hubby's dad is a carnivore, and loves his meat. He ordered some pork chops. Mom is more of a regimented dietician, so she opted for the grilled whiting. But unfortunately they ran out (at 6.30?) of the whiting, so she went for the shark. Seeing this, I changed my entree to the quail.

I really wanted to order an appetizer of pan-fried Greek cheese, but judging from the portion size I knew we'd be way too stuffed. Oh well, maybe next time.

Our garlic bread came in prompt time as we were waiting. The golden loaves came drizzled with a thick layer of olive oil and pesto. It looked really tempting, but I resisted from grabbing the whole loaf in the spirit of family sharing.

This bread is amazing. I would come here for the bread alone. The crust gives you a bit of a bite and chew, but then you're rewarded by a complex flavor of soft starchy bread inside, which is even better when you dip it in olive oil.

Hubby's mom told us not to eat too much of it lest we lose our appetites for our entrees, which looking around we could only guess how stuffed we would be.

So I killed some time by looking around the decor inside the restaurant, like this painting of a dock. Everything about it is evolved around the sea and fishing it seems.

And although I haven't been to the similar Greek restaurant across the street, I can already tell by the Zagat reviews why this is the go-to place for authentic Greek cuisine. The reviews lauded the chef for his authenticity and ingenuity, while remaining true to the freshest ingredients.

Our dishes came about 15 min later. Hubby was quite happy with his stuffed fillet with crabmeat. I really liked the presentation, because it looks rustic and hot off the grill. I tried a bit of it, and it was just as I expected - full of chunky meaty goodness.

Stuffed fillet with crabmeat

Of course, my quail was more elegant. It came in three pieces, charcoal grilled and all (wings included!). I gave one to hubby's mom, who traded it for five pieces of baby shark, and one to hubby's dad. I actually had trouble finishing mine because the ashy charcoal was a little too pungent, and it was hard to get the meat off the tiny bones.

BBQ Quail

Hubby's dad's pork chops also looked pretty appetizing, even I who don't eat pork wanted to try some.

The entrees are all accompanied by a generous side. I ordered the rice, hubby and his dad ordered hortas which is a Greek green, and hubby's mom got the beets.

Wow this rice was the most tender, creamy, well-seasoned rice I have ever tasted. It was so smooth and tender that I could just eat this for my dinner. Everyone loved the rice. (And the carrots made it look healthy too!)

The hortas was kind of bitter and tasted like mush. It was almost as if someone collected leaves and steamed them. Although I didn't enjoy this dish, I tried to eat as much of it as I could to appear like I'm a healthy eater.

I really liked the sliced beets. Beets are naturally sweet in its own right, but I think they probably marinated it a bit in sugar because this was extra sweet.

Unfortunately I didn't get a picture of the baby shark, which turned out to be my fav dish. It was surprisingly tender and chewy, contrary to my vision of a rubbery meaty texture. And it came with a side of garlic mashed potatoes, the only potato dish of the meal (I should have asked hubby to get the roasted lemon potato as his side).

While dining, the table next to us filled with a Greek family of two uncles and a small girl. They ordered some feta tomato salad as a starter, crumbling the giant block of feta into cubes before eating, which made me want to ask for a bite. Then they ordered some fried sardines, market fish, grilled salmon, the whole shebang. It was then that I understood the true nature of Greek hospitality - that even with three people, you still have to eat to your fullest.

I also learned something from the table to the left of us, which appeared to be two newbees like us with a Greek tour guide. She explained to them to wait until the olive oil has fully been settled into the bread to eat it. I made a mental note of that for next time.

In the end, the only true finisher was hubby, who somehow ate all of his dish. Even hubby's dad, a champion plate-cleaner, didn't finish his pork chops because he was busy eating the rest of the stuff. Hubby's mom rationed most of her shark away, and I just ate the rest of her shark and the rice and beets. We had a lot of hortas left over because everyone got sick of the medicinal herby taste after a while.

Then to top it all off, they gave us free on-the-house desserts, which is a creamy cinnamon ricotta pudding.

Warm ricotta bread pudding

It was so heart-warming and rich that it was almost a little too much especially after a loaded meal. I managed to finish half of mine, stopping halfway mainly because hubby's mom was saying it was a little too much cholesterol to handle in one day.

I also really wanted to take some of the bread home, but hubby resisted, saying "who takes bread home?" A good food critic that is!

This is a restaurant for family get-togethers, so bring your love and a really really empty stomach!

Taverna Kyclades
** (3/5)
Kids-friendly (with reservation)

No comments:

Post a Comment