Kalamaki is low in price but not in style. In tasteful minimalist surroundings, you order at the counter and your food is brought to you. It's beautifully plated, no doubt attributable to the ownership the place shares with the chic Greek restaurant Trata a few blocks away.
FOOD OF THE GODS
The surprise at a restaurant whose name refers to skewered grilled meat is that some of the best dishes are vegetarian. Tops is the ethereal spanakopita, a spinach pie with a crackly thin, delicate phyllo shell overlaying a soufflé-like filling of spinach, onion and feta laced with fresh dill.
Spreads, served with warm pita, are all good - the garlicky hummus, the refreshing tzatziki (yogurt, cucumber and mint) and the spicy kopanisti (whipped feta with roasted peppers and pickled vegetables). I also like the restaurant's namesake salad made with baby arugula, dried sour cherries, apple, toasted almonds and feta in a sun-dried tomato vinaigrette.
Grilled meats - either souvlaki (marinated cubes of pork, chicken or lamb) or gyro (the conventional ground beef-lamb combo as well as spiced and stacked slices of chicken or pork) - may be had as sandwiches or on wood skewers. Best were the juicy, ingeniously seasoned pork souvlaki and the pork gyro.
The phyllo-encased semolina vanilla custard, bougatsa, makes for a comforting conclusion.
GREEK TO ME
Why does the grill person insist on incinerating my meat? First time out, it's hard to differentiate between chicken, pork and lamb. A shame, since the flavor of the marinade shines through. Next time, I virtually beg that my meat not be overdone.
Thankfully, the pork escapes burning. A few pieces of chicken are moist, but the lamb is nothing but a pile of charred nubbins. A Greek beef burger stuffed with cheese is well-done but moist. Fries are the battered, pre-frozen sort. I'd prefer none at all.
Much promise shown here. I'm hopeful that with more attention paid to grilling the meat to the precise point of doneness, this place will rise to the level of its spinach pie.