Thursday, March 09, 2006

we have a winner.

Yesterday, SwatchMan (yep, he gets his own alias) came to California to visit us from Kentucky. He's never been here before, so we're going to show him a good time. Mr. Cupcake's sister is coming on Friday, so our place will be uncharacteristically full.

After SwatchMan arrived, we headed to San Francisco to meet up with MM. who is also from Kentucky. She came with her boyfriend, C. who had to attend a conference. SwatchMan, MM., Mr. Cupcake, and I use to work together in Kentucky, so it's very strange that we're all on the west coast at the same time. Anyway, SwatchMan, MM., and I did some sightseeing before eventually meeting up with Mr. Cupcake and C. for dinner. MM. did some research and made a reservation for us at Kokkari. She is a big fan of Greek food.

Our reservation was set for 8:30. When we arrived, the hostess told us it'd be a few minutes because they were waiting for a group to leave, but it shouldn't take long. After about 20 minutes, the manager came up to us and apologized profusely. Apparently the group occupying the table had paid a half an hour ago, but didn't leave. He then brought us a basket of bread and some olives. We all thought this was a nice gesture and were very happy to see the bread because everyone was starving.

We were seated about five minutes later, and the manager promptly sent out an order of Dolmathes (grape leaves stuffed with rice, currants, and pine nuts) and the Epiros Feta (Greek feta) on the house. We were definitely impressed with the service. I really liked both of these dishes. I don't enjoy cheese all that much unless it's hard like Parmesan. I liked the feta because it was dry and crumbly and had a very nice flavor. It went well with the crusty bread that was provided. I also enjoyed the dolmathes. It seemed as though this was going to be a very promising meal, so we ordered a couple more appetizers.

We ordered the Aginares Souvlaki. It was grilled artichokes, onions, and eggplant that came with a side of Greek yogurt (orange stuff). I'm not sure what the orange stuff was on the yogurt, but it was very nice. The yogurt was very thick and went great with the grilled vegetables. My only nitpick was the onions were a little over powering.

Here we have the Saghanaki. MM. was very excited for this dish. It's fried Kefalograviera cheese with lemon and oregano. Everyone loved this dish except for me. The outer crust was amazing. It had the perfect outer crust that was light and very crispy. I just didn't like the texture of the cheese. I guess I have a love hate relationship with cheese. It has to be perfect for me to like it, and that usually means not melted. I'm not sure if rubbery is the right way to describe it. However, I was the only one who didn't like it, so my opinion doesn't really count. If you like cheese, then you'd probably love this dish.

Kokkari offers a lot of lamb and fish for their main courses. I wasn't feeling it, so I decided to get a salad and another appetizer. By the way, my pictures suck again. I decided I needed the flash, but missed that they were blurry.

Anyway, I ordered the spanakotiropita which is phyllo, spinach, feta, leeks, and dill. This was very good. The phyllo was so light and crispy. I made a mess because the phyllo went flying everytime I cut into it. I enjoyed it.

I also ordered the Portokalosalata. It's a blood orange salad with rose water, dates and walnuts. When it came out, I was surprised by the way it looked. I was expecting some actual lettuce. However, it was incredible. These were the best blood oranges I'd ever eaten in my life. They were so sweet and juicy. I never knew a blood orange could taste that good. The dates were also very complimenting. I really loved this salad and would order it again in a heartbeat.

Mr. Cupcake ordered the Kokinisto me Manestra. It was a braised lamb shank with orzo. He really liked his dish. He said the meat was moist, tender and very good. Though afterwards, he said he'd hoped it'd be a little more "Greek" with olives and that kind of stuff. However, he still enjoyed it a lot.

SwatchMan had the Moussaka (eggplant, lamb, potato, and yogurt bechamel casserole) and MM. and C. shared the Galeos (halibut with lentil-black olive salata, chanterelle and artichoke tapenade) and Portokalosalata. All of them felt the meal was very impressive and enjoyable.

We decided to order dessert. I'm a sucker for baklava, so I ordered it again. Based on my meal thus far, I thought the baklava would be amazing. I figured it had to be so much better than the Afghan place we went to last week.

The ice cream that came with the baklava was excellent. I'm not sure what flavor it was, but it overshadowed the baklava. The baklava itself was underwhelming. The phyllo to nut ratio was off. It was very heavy on the nuts and the phyllo wasn't light and crispy like I was hoping. I was disappointed with the baklava, but was very happy with the ice cream.

Our waiter was the best. He looked like Dustin Hoffman. You could tell he enjoyed his job and didn't take it too seriously. Anyway, he advised Mr. Cupcake that there'd be a lot of dried fruit in the rice pudding, and it wasn't going to be typical. Mr. Cupcake cannot turn down rice pudding though. It's his weakness, so he ordered it anyway. It turned out that our waiter was right; there was way too much dried fruit and it was too overpowering for the rice pudding. He still finished it off though.

I'm not sure what SwatchMan, MM. and C ordered for dessert. I took the dinner menu, but not the dessert. I have pictures, but I've decided I can't write about every detail because it takes too much time. I also can't describe their experience either, so I'm going to focus on my experience and Mr. Cupcake's. I don't mind speaking for him. Though, I do encourage MM. to start her own blog since she's passionate about food. :)

The total tab not including tip was about $180 for the five of us. MM. was nice and took care of the bill. The overall consensus was that dinner was amazing. It's probably the best meal I've had since we've moved out here. The service was also impeccable. I don't know what our server's name was, but try to get the guy who looks like Dustin Hoffman. He was great. I'd highly recommend Kokkari if you're in the city and like Greek food.

I think the food gets progressively better the closer you get to the city. I haven't been blown away by the restaurants in the south bay/peninsula area. I feel like I've been to a good number of restaurants now. It's hasn't been that long since we've moved out here though, and there's lots of places to try yet. I'll still keep an open mind.

Tonight, SwatchMan and I went to Vito's Famous Pizza in Sunnyvale. It's suppose to be NY style pizza. C. told us about it at dinner, so we were definitely intrigued. I'll review it tomorrow because it's past my bed time. SwatchMan is passed out on the couch as I type this, so maybe I should let him actually go to bed. Besides, we have an action packed day tomorrow including the Computer History Museum (Mr. Cupcake has been wanting to go since we moved here) and Ikea. Woot.


Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Thank you for this review it got me interested in the food and I might go to Palo Alto's branch!