23 April 2008

Dinner at Kokkari Estiatorio, San Francisco

When we arrived in San Francisco after touring the Napa Valley, we wanted to try something new and different. Kokkari Estiatorio filled that bill very nicely. It’s Greek cuisine with a heavy emphasis on fish and seafood. The décor is rustic Mediterranean. The service is very friendly and accommodating.

We were shown to our table which turned out to be quite close to another table of two businessmen. Their conversation was quite loud. We considered asking for another table, but decided not to since they seemed to be about finished. Keeping the table worked to our benefit.

As they prepared to leave, we were quizzing our server about a choice for an appetizer. Several sounded tempting. As we discussed the choices, one of our neighbors leaned over, apologized for intruding, but then recommended the roasted Brussels sprouts, mapakia. It was a great recommendation. The Brussels sprouts were roasted in a wood-fired oven with bacon and lemon. They were served very hot, and they were wonderful.

Overall, the menu at Kokkari is very diverse and offers many options. The selection of mezethes (small plates, or Greek tapas) is extensive. You could make a meal by sampling several. We found our server to be very helpful in terms of explaining how the mezethes and entrées were prepared and making recommendations.

One recommendation was a Greek wine. My wife wanted a white, but we weren’t familiar with the ones on the menu. He asked her a few questions about her preferences and then recommended Tselepos Moschofilero Mantinia. It was a wonderful choice. At the end of the meal, he wrote it down for us, even though it’s doubtful we’ll find it available anywhere in Minnesota.

For dinner my wife ordered Makaronia me Horta –ravioli of greens and feta with artichokes and roasted Greek peppers. It was a wonderful meal! The ravioli were tender and tasty. The greens were spread over the ravioli with small clumps of fresh, salty feta cheese. The artichokes were tender but not at all mushy. The roasted peppers added a bright red accent to the plate; they were very flavorful.

My choice was the nightly fish special. That particular night the fish was dorado (mahi-mahi). You can have it either grilled or roasted in a wood oven. I chose wood oven-roasted with

Greek olives, saffron potatoes and wild mushrooms. Our server did an excellent job of deboning it for me. The combination of flavors was fantastic.

As we were finishing up, another couple was seated at the table next to us. With the close quarters, we greeted each other. They asked where we were from. When we said Minnesota, the woman said that she has a close friend from there. It turns out my wife knew her. Small world. We finished paying, gave them our recommendations, and left.

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