Please note that the meal was complimentary. However, the opinions expressed in my blog are 100% my own!
Located at the corner of 93rd and 3rd on the Upper East Side, Korali Estiatorio went beyond my expectations. I love Greek food and was definitely not disappointed after going to a tasting I was invited to. This beautiful restaurant that gets its name from "Coral", to honor the seafood of the Mediterranean sea, is the jewel opened a year ago by Gregori Politis (formerly of Yefsi Estiatorio), a 20-year veteran in the hospitality industry who wanted to bring the authentic recipes from his childhood in Greece to NYC.
I loved the decor, not overdone, that is supposed to "evoke the breezy, white-covered Greek Island of Mykonos with white brick walls and bamboo design work on the airy high ceilings, complemented by pale gray Grecian marble pillars and stonework".
And that food: simply amazing. I am not talking about the bread that came with olive oil at the beginning of the meal, but more about what we would soon be having in our belly.
Of course, to go with my meal, I could not not have a glass of Greek wine and chose the Kyklos Agiorgitiko 2014 from Greece, a wine with an intense red color and rich aroma of fruit, perfect with my entrée.
Then they brought us some spanakopita, that are phyllo wrapped spinach pies baked to order. I admit that I was not that thrilled at that point as I am a bit picky with spinach: it really depends how it is prepared (a la creme? bring me the pot!). But, as my mom taught me to have good manners at the table, I tried it and...did not regret it! Yes, I was surprised how good it was: often, there is too much spinach and the phyllo is not so crispy (especially when prepared in advance). There, they put the right balance of spinach and cheese (lots of it) and it come hot and crispy, making the first, second and third bites delicious.
Then came the grilled octopus, a sashimi grade char grilled octopus sitting on top of yellow split pea purée drizzled with a saffron infused lemon oil, cherry tomatoes, scallions and capers. That was one of the best octopus I ever had: they surely know how to make it: not rubbery, with a nice char, it was perfect.
Next was the cheese saganaki, a must have. It was not flambé and was a combination of cheeses baked in a skillet served with a roasted tomato compote. If you love cheese, this dish is for you. I loved the texture of it: it was gooey and chewy. I liked the combination with the tomato compote, but if it had not have been there, I would have still loved that dish.
The last appetizer was a selection of spreads, a classic in Greek restaurants. There was, from left to right:
- Fava santorini (yellow split pea purée, onions, capers, parsley, olive oil).
- Tzatziki (greek yogurt with cucumber, garlic, dill and extra virgin olive oil).
- Melitsanosalata (char grilled eggplant dip with herbs, extra virgin olive oil and a dash of garlic).
- Xtipiti (spicy feta dip with roasted chilies).
I loved all these spreads, especially the melitzanosalata that really had the taste of eggplant and the xtipiti that was not too salty. This is a great appetizer that I recommend.
After all this delicious food, came the entrées and it was even more spectacular. Jodi got the melitzanes imam that is a stuffed eggplant with caramelized tomatoes, onions and feta. This was a succulent vegetarian dish that definitely let the eggplant shine.
On my side, I could not resist ordering the arni yiouvetsi that is slow braised lamb shank served with orzo, tomato and feta. This is one of my favorite Greek dishes and I was not disappointed at Korali Estiatorio. The lamb was delicious, falling off the bone. And the orzo with the sauce and feta was divine.
Last, after this feast, they treated us with a dessert sampler composed of walnut cake, baklava, galactobourico (semolina custard in phyllo, coated in syrup) and Greek yogurt with cherries. That was sublime and my favorite were the baklava and the galactobourico, the latter being outstanding.
With the dessert, they brought some muscat wine that was delightfully sweet.
The dinner we had at Korali Estiatorio was amazing and I definitely recommend this place. I would for sure go back and maybe try one of their fish dishes that looked delicious.
Enjoy (I surely did)!
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