217 W 85th St (between Broadway and Amsterdam)
New York, NY 10024
Hooray! The Upper West Side has a fantastic new Greek restaurant on West 85th Street. Eléa.
As the restaurant says, It's a true Greek Experience. Well, not being Greek nor have I ever been to Greece (bucket list) I'll have to take their word for it. But what I do know is that this casually elegant eatery is a welcome treasure in this densely populated residential neighborhood in Manhattan.
Airy and light, Eléa encompasses three floors. Friendly hosts and servers abound and while the menus are on the short side they offer a great variety of dishes.
For an appetizer my dining partner, Bud, and I decided to try their 5 tastings of spreads...1. chickpea hummus - smoked paprika, marinated chickpeas, and micro cilantro 2. Taramosalata - roe of grey mullet, capers, red onion, and extra virgin olive oil 3. Tyrokafteri - spicy roasted pepper & feta 4. Skordalia - Greek almond and garlic 5. Tzatziki - Greek strained yogurt, garlic and cucumber. And all 5 were served with a heaping pile of tasty, toasty pita triangles. It was so delicious I had to remind myself to slow down and take human bites.
Bud ordered the Yemista - oven roasted tomato, bell pepper & zucchini stuffed with herbed rice and served in a cast iron skillet. Rich and flavorful, this hearty and earthy dish challenges the concept that a vegetarian entrees aren't satisfying.
And I surprisingly ordered the Lamb Paidakia - taverna style lamb chops with fresh but Greek fries. Surprisingly because I don't recall ever ordering them or cooking them in my adult life. My mom was a wonderful cook and often she would serve lamb chops, remember with that mint jelly from a jar? And honestly, I think it was my dad's preference to have mom over cook everything so the chops tended to come out like gourmet shoe leather instead of the perfectly cooked medium rare lamb that I ordered at Eléa. The meat had a delicious marinade and melted in your mouth. Yes, I did breakdown and pick the chops up and gnaw on the bone, they were that good. Oh and not one single Greek fry was left on my plate.
I can't wait to go back and try their Youvetsi - Xinomavro wine braised short ribs with baked orzo & kefalograviera cheese or any of their whole grilled fish or possibly their Mussels Avgolemono - Dekoning family Dutch style mussels with Greek herbs and avgolemono sauce.