Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Kanella



Wade's Take:

It was all Greek to me and my belly when we popped in to Kanella on 10th and Spruce last week for a gastro tour of Greek cuisine.

I can't believe that was my opening line. Forgive the pun above, and focus on the food review below. I liked this place and it deserves better than my lame headline.

Greek food is great, because I feel like I could never make it at home. Not even close. The flavors are too complex... to unknown to me to even try to explain the spices. I just eat it, close my eyes, savor it for a second, and say "that was mighty good." I've given up trying to sound like a food sophisticate for anything Greek.

Case in point... my first appetizer. Bureki. It was filled phylo dough with feta cheese and thyme, baked until golden and then drizzled with thyme honey, served with a side of beets. It gets the best appetizer I've had at a restaurant award, hands down. It beats out Rae's onion fondue.

The second appetizer up was veal hearts, grilled. The meat was limp, the flavor was lacking. It came with a side of chickpea fritters (think of mozarella sticks, but 100% chickpea). These fritters were too intense with salt. Then, voila, Dave recommends I combine the two in one bite. Much better! Though they paired well, the veal hearts and fritter marriage didn't compare to the Bureki, which I was still ogling the crumbs and empty plate.

My entree was makaronia. Comprised of home made pasta, sweet peas, tomato sauce with mint, yogurt and kefalotyri cheese (made of sheep or goat's milk) - this dish was fantastically complicated and rich with flavor. There was an afterbite that resounded. I don't know what added the kick of spice, but it was perfect.

There was a trio of ice creams that came to the table for dessert. All had unbearable flavors in my mind (I am a lover of chocolate ice cream and chocolate ice cream alone) but Jess and Dave seemed to like them.

I focused on the sweet chocolate mousse (partially redundant name) that came out served creme brulee style. It had a hat of lavender ice cream, which tasted like soap. Since I have an older brother, I've eaten soap before in various older to younger brother tortures. Soap ice cream fares better than Dove and Irish Spring. The mousse itself was too sweet (living up to its name), but was toned down by the french pressed coffee Jess and I guzzled sans sugar.

The atmosphere of Kanella was warm, tight and cozy. Cozy like in a Euro-bistro kind of close enough to smell your dining neighbor's whole fish kind of good way, not a Quizno's under Market Street kind of smell your dining neighbor's BO bad way. I even felt cozy with the mature Frenchies that sat next to us and babbled french tales (and stared at our food) through the night. I'm sure if we had stayed for another course we would have saddled up to their table and become a part of their lively frenchie tales. Or maybe I'm just waxing nostalgic because of the bureki.

I will be back, Kanella.

3.5 out of 4 Greek words ending in vowels.
Jess' Take:
I was excited to try Kanella. It had been recommended to me by two different people, both Greek, who raved about it. A cute BYO with a very Mediterranean feel inside, I was very excited to dig in.

I ordered the grilled baby octopus for my app, and although it was flavored wonderfully, it was a little too chewy. That certainly didn’t stop me from eating the entire portion, but I wouldn’t order it again. And… once I had a taste of Wade’s Bereki, well, let’s just say I was dreaming about it for the rest of the meal. Hands down one of the best starters I’ve ever had.

I decided to order the filleted fish of the day, which was dorado, despite the waiters joke that he likes to call dorado “the stripped bass of the Mediterranean.” I mean, is that supposed to be funny? Anyway, funny or not, it was delicious. Perfectly cooked, seasoned well and extremely fresh. It was served wtih a chickpea concoction that was amazing - it looked heavy but was very light, and also had some hidden lentils, which are another favorite of mine.

Aside from Wade’s Bereki (which I’m still thinking about) the most remarkable element of our dining experience was the French pressed coffee. It might have been the best coffee I’ve ever had (and I’m not just staying that because we popped open our third bottle of wine at the same time it arrived). I usually don’t do caffeinated coffee at night, but I was lured by the French press and happy I was. Rich, dark and smooth, it was much more memorable than the desserts.

Kanella, you’re getting 3 out of 4 coffee beans from me. Next time I’m back I’ll give the homemade sausages a try – I hear it’s delightful.

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