228 1st Ave
(between 13th St & 14th St)
New York, NY 10009
FISH! FISH! FISH! I’m so happy that a great, affordable seafood place has opened in the East Village. Taverna Kyclades is a casual seafood restaurant that just opened up where Tepito and David’s Bagels used to be. I used to think that spot was cursed (bad feng shui or something) because the restaurants there never stay long. Three restaurants have occupied that spot in less than two years. I’ve never been interested in trying those restaurants because their reviews have always been super mediocre. Taverna Kyclades opened up late last year, a sister restaurant to the eponymous restaurant in Astoria. The original one in Astoria is so popular that people line up for hours on the weekends to get a taste of the fresh seafood.
Lucky us, the East Village location has not gained that much popularity yet. LAW and I came on a Tuesday evening and only had a 15 minute wait (still wildly impressive for a weekday).
This is the free bread that they give out. AMAZING baguette – crusty, soft, chewy – toasted with olive oil and spices. Huge plus in my book for starting the meal right. I would come just for this bread and wine if I could get away with it.
When you come, you MUST get this. This is the Octopodi: charcoal grilled Mediterranean octopus ($15.95). Prior to this, the best grilled octopus I had had was at Pylos, also a really, really great Greek restaurant. Pylos is a bit fancier. It has prettier decor, nicer plates, prettier wine glasses, etc. Also has really great octopus. But this octopodi was phenomenal. It was even more tender than the one at Pylos and had an addicting smokey finish. It was a bit simpler than the one at Pylos, which had a caramelized balsamic glaze. This one was just drizzled with olive oil and some simple herbs.
With every entree, you get a choice of rice, french fries, lemon potatoes, beets, or horta. We got the Lemon Fries (above) and the Kyclade Fries (below – asked to sub out the french fries for the special house fries). The lemon potatoes were very interesting. They were creamy and acidic at the same time, kind of like a lemon pudding… but not sweet, of course. Oddly addicting.
For our entrees, LAW got the Garides Santorinh, which was a greek style shrimp cooked in a feta, ouzo, and tomato sauce ($13.95). The shrimp was very fresh and sweet, but was overcooked. It was a bit rubbery in texture. Definitely did not meet expectations. The sauce, on the other hand, was delicious. It was creamy, tomatoey, like a vodka pasta sauce (but with ouzo). Very fresh. It would have been a great base for a shrimp pasta actually. I almost shamelessly took the sauce home to throw together with some fettucine. Ugh. Definitely should have.
I got the Tsipoura, a Mediterranean dorata (M/P $35). I had the choice to have it served with or without the bones. The Chinese in me believes fish tastes best on the bone, so here it is, the beauty of a whole fish.
Not only do you get free bread, you also get free dessert! The dessert is called galaktoboureko. It is a Greek made with custard and filo dough, coated with a sweet syrup. According to Wiki, unlike mille-feuille, the custard is baked with the pastry, not added afterwards. Also unlike other Greek desserts I’ve had, this galaktoboureko is not very sweet. It is creamy and light, a great way to end the meal.
The only other seafood places I can think of in East Village are Upstate and Prima, both not as good as Taverna Kyclades. Taverna Kyclades is a no frills, casual restaurant that serves up fresh seafood in pretty damn large portions. There isn’t an ounce of preteniousness here. It is a great place to have a good time, be full, and eat lots of seafood and potatoes.