I recently visited the well-reviewed Kellari Taverna on 44th Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues and was blown away by the authentic Greek fare (most of the attentive staff is Greek as well). You will fall in love not only with the seafood and farm fresh veggie-based cuisine but the unique décor that mixes rustic Greek charm with a “city chic” vibe. The ultra-high ceilings and tables placed far apart (to give guests a lot of foot and elbow room) give a spacious and airy feeling. There are stunning extra-large floral arrangements as well.
Kellari Taverna gives its clientele a true farm-to-table experience and since it has an immense selection of fresh seafood that is presented to the guest before cooking, let’s also say that it provides an “ocean to table” experience. The various choices of octopus dishes make it KT a go-to place for those who live this misunderstood jewel of the sea. The Dover Sole is considered in a league by itself and it’s truly a show when your server so neatly debones your fish in under two minutes. It is amazingly priced at under $59, too (as you know, this seafood favorite is over $100 on every other high-end menu in town)! I call the “deboning ceremony” of the Dover Sole a presentation with a big “wow factor” bordering on a modern-day miracle! With that being said, nearly everything on the menu is kept traditional and healthy simply by being grilled with lemon, herbs and olive oil. My favorite “no guilt” item is the “Make Your Own Greek Salad” for $16.95. You can see from the photo above how fresh the Feta is and the gorgeous view of the glamorous dining room central area from pretty much any table!
Kellari Taverna has many VIP guests and is a regular “hang” of former Mayor Michael Bloomberg—but the manager pointed out to me that all clientele is treated equally special and “like family.” They want to be very laid back and treat everyone the same. Movies have been filmed at Kellari as well and the management staff want everything to be low key for high profile guests as they want everyone to come back.
Most of Kellari’s seafood is brought over from Greece to make their dishes have even more authentic flavors for their clientele—and I suggest the classic Patates Fournou (lemon roasted Greek style potatoes) as the perfect side to any protein served at Kellari! Portions are huge which is a really big plus for someone like me with a giant appetite or for those who like to share! I love their 12-ounce New York Strip which is honestly even bigger than the stated 12 ounces on the menu and comes with a unique brown sauce with onions for dipping!
There are also plenty of everyday specials including an amazing Pre-Theater price fixe for about $65 that includes roast lamb and vegetarian moussaka! On weekends, all brunch entrees come with a complimentary drink including Bellinis, Mimosas and Bloody Marys—and the price for the whole shebang is only about $35. The amazing lunch specials all come in at under $30. One of the best kept secrets of Kellari is that there is a big after work crowd up at the bar that is very friendly and that you can get some food served to you there as well, whether you want to stand or actually sit at the bar. (The afterwork crowd is heavy on young and middle-aged people in the financial business including bankers so maybe you can get some financial advice as well, LOL!) Another best kept secret is their ongoing gift of free bubbly or wine on holidays that you register for you and your family on their site under the heading “Lifetime Gift.”
You should not leave Kellari Taverna without having dessert because there is surprise “one night only” items that pop up here and there including a dark chocolate mousse tart generously sliced for each customer! The Greek desserts like Warm Bugusta (a delicious vanilla bean custard) and Baklava are mixed in with other European classics and I was lucky enough to try aforementioned chocolate mousse tart on my recent visit! I strongly recommend Kellari Taverna as both a place to take foodie friends who love real Greek cuisine as well as fussy family members who need a big variety of items to choose from; children are welcome!)
For more information on Kellari Taverna, visit www.kellarinyc.com. Phone 212-221-0144. Reservations are strongly recommended but not necessary.