36 East 20th Street
City: New York, NY
Phone: (212) 777-8448
Hours: brunch: sat and sun 11am-4pm lunch: 12:00 am-4 pm dinner: sun 5-11pm mon - sat 5pm-12:00 pm bar: opened till 12:00
Site: Visit the restaurant site
Area: Flatiron District
Sometimes, wishes do come true – even if they’re not ones you made on your birthday cake. For example, ever since my first visit to Kellari Taverna, the excellent Greek restaurant on West 44th Street, I had secretly hoped they might open a branch closer to my workplace in the Flatiron District, for when those Hellenic cravings suddenly hit. So imagine my joy – and surprise – when walking to the office one morning to discover the Kellari group had taken over Parea, a recently opened nouvelle Greek spot that I had yet to sample. Now that I’ve made my first visit to the renamed Kellari’s Parea, I know it won’t be my last. Like the uptown branch, Kellari’s Parea is an unusually stylish and warm spot – in fact, being smaller and slightly more casual than the Taverna makes it feel even cozier. The menu is a tad less expensive, and most notably, less focused on seafood; there are no whole fish available. But there are so many excellent choices – including some first-rate fish preparations – you won’t notice or care. Indeed, the menu is so vast that you’ll need plenty of time to make your decisions, so start with the house’s Pikalia platter of mixed spreads, including a remarkably fresh tzatziki and an intriguing combination of softened feta cheese and red pepper. Take note, many of the appetizers are large enough to be light entrees, and entrée portions are huge enough to be shared by two, so order with caution. We didn’t know this, so our party of four ordered four starters. Perhaps the biggest hit at the table was katsikio saganaki, an irresistible dish of baked goat cheese flavored with apricot and topped with almond. The keftedes – Greek beef meatballs in a rich wine sauce – were perhaps the best version of this dish I’ve ever had (and a most generous portion); lamb riblets were extremely tasty, and the grilled octopus was meltingly tender. The house’s sure hand with seafood came through with perfectly grilled salmon atop a rich and luscious and artichoke fricassee and sushi-quality, sesame-crusted tuna accompanied by delicious roasted beets. An evening’s special of pan-roasted duck breast in a fig sauce paired with a potato-leek gratin was delicious but quite rich. As for the finales, perhaps only a family of 12 could finish the extraordinarily overflowing platter of admittedly yummy honey-covered fritters. A prettily-presented dish of rice pudding studded with poached quince is decidedly lighter, and you can never go wrong with the fresh sheep’s milk yogurt with Greek thyme honey and toasted walnuts! Opa!
Review By: Brian Scott Lipton