Thursday, December 16, 2010
179 Franklin Street
New York, NY 10013
If you love olives, olive oil and Greek yogurt as much as I do, chances are, you’ve come across Fantis, a century-old and a very well-respected (Greek and Mediterranean) food importer in America. Fantis is a leading Greek food company which has been importing the freshest, highest quality Greek foods (Kalamata Olives, Feta Cheese, and Ibis (I love these – mixed jelly beans!!). When I found out that the owners of Fantis also own a Greek restaurant in New York City, I was so ecstatic and thankful to have been invited for a dinner tasting.
So it is quite fitting that the owners had named the restaurant, Thalassa “The Sea”, as the establishment’s menu focuses on contemporary Greek seafood dishes. Thanks to its Fantis link, the diners can expect that unspoken guarantee that they will be getting a selection of fresh and unique variety of imported Mediterranean and Greek fish straight from the source.
When I arrived at the restaurant with my friend Christine, we were greeted immediately and seated in the main dining room with impressive 18-foot high ceilings, open-faced brick walls, Greek urns, shiny hardwood floors, with blue mood lighting and white leather chairs surround each dining table (a candle on every table). The atmosphere is impressively sexy, pretty, and uncrowded, even with a party on the lower level (wine room).
While browsing through the menu, the bread Basket came around and from the fresh selection, we opted bread with rosemary and olives. They brought then brought some Melitzanosalata (which was chunky and tasty dip made of eggplant and tomatoes and scallions usually with olive oil and sea salt), taramosalata (another dip which was made from salty roe, bread crumbs, lemon juice, vinegar and olive oil), some Greek olives and extra virgin olive oil with fresh rosemary.
The menu is seasonal, simple yet sophisticated, ranging from Greek peasant salad to Lamb Shank Ravioli, it was tough to pick as every item sounded very enticing. The wine menu is equally impressive (12,000 bottles) with award winning selection of domestic and international wines. I was both excited and intimidated, so we just asked to pour us some Greek wine (white for me and red for my hot date). That was a good call as the wines were great complement to our meal.
They’ve brought us a dainty amouse bouche, made of shrimp salad on top of cucumber slice with Greek yogurt and fish eggs. A refreshing bite-sized deliciousness.
After much thought, we decided to try:
Maine Diver Scallops, $17
Fresh scallops, wrapped in kataifi (shredded phyllo dough soaked in syrup) with sheep’s milk butter (tend to be pungent but was beautifully tempered by the capers, and Kalamata balsamic reduction), sprinkled with some diced scallions, tomatoes and capers. The texture and flavor were utter delight, it was buttery, and the soft, light and flavorful mollusks were contrasted with the crunch of the phyllo. My friend Christine, who was not a big seafood fan, raved this dish as a “winner”. In fact, she liked this so much that she even ordered the snapper for main dish!!
Very savory grape leaves, carefully stuffed with veal and rice in a delicate avgolemono sauce.
Portugese Octapodi, $16
Grilled octopus with micro organic greens, olive oil and red wine vinaigrette. The octopus was tender, tasty and seasoned well. The char grilled flavor was simple but tasty.
This is not on the regular menu, so please check with the staff for pricing and availability before ordering. It is the chef’s special appetizer. A sausage made of crabmeat, shrimp, lobster meat and scallops, spread on top of a lemon buttery sauce and sprinkled with fresh diced tomatoes and fresh greens. It was quite enjoyable to have four delicious seafood combined into a sausage. It should be added to their regular menu!
Lavraki is a lean white fish with wild, moist, tender flakes. It is from Greece, the whole fish is supposed to be for 1 person but it is big enough to share. It was grilled whole, filleted and topped with capers. The fish was fresh, delicate and light.
Hawaiian Lemon Snapper Fillet, $
The snapper fillet was grilled, and served with trahana and asparagus. The fish was thick and mouth-watering juicy.
After the main course, we were treated with glasses of Greek dessert wine and a very nice ice cream sampler. The sampler was bite-sized samplings of pistachio, vanilla, pumpkin and coffee ice creams served in a waffle cone with fresh strawberries, raspberries and a mint leaf. It was adorably delectable, my favorite was the pistachio.
Since Thalassa make their desserts on site, I had to try their:
Valrhona Chocolate Crepes, $
Crepe filled with the luxurious Valrhona chocolate, served with rice pudding (generously sprinkled with cinnamon) and Fresh Berries
Toasted Greek Almond & Walnut Baklava, $
This was a delicious layering of the sweet and crunchy phyllo dough and then filled with chopped almonds and walnuts, then sweetened with honey. It was incredibly nutty, sweet and luscious. Great way to end a delightful meal.
Our meal was a never-ending medley of seasonal and fresh ingredients, healthy flavors of the Mediterranean diet and the warmth of Greek hospitality. Needless to say, it exceeded my already high expectations.
Thalassa’s motto is “Eat Fish and Live Longer”. After this meal, my motto is to live longer to eat more at Thalassa.