Monday, May 13, 2013

Dad's BDay Dinner!! Kokkari Estiatorio

Balvenie 17 year Peat Cast Scotch, Seabream Fish, Chicken, Sorbet, Baklava, and Chocolate Cake

     For my dad's birthday this year, we devised a list of the top restaurants for us, taking into account the cuisine type, neighborhood, and recommendations from friends. After much deliberation, we settled on Kokkari Estiatorio in the Finanical District. Here is our story.

Kokkari Estiatorio


Large wooden windows

Our cool Grecian plates

      The atmosphere of Kokkari is a great balance of warmth and sophistication. The tall wooden windows look out over a sea of Grecian fish plates and cloth-covered tables. Giant tapestries cover the walls, and large gourds and plants cover the floor. It's a great setting for a Greek meal.

Mezethes | Starters

Balvenie 17 year Peat Cast Scotch
     This is how my dad rolls. He loved his Balvenie 17 year peat cast scotch. Him and the waiter had a whole convo about how smoothly it went down. It made for some cool pictures as well!

Horiatiki - Classic Greek salad of tomato, bell peppers, cucumber, onion, oregano, olives, and feta

     The Horiatiki, or Classic Greek Salad, was crisp, fresh, and colorful! It was great next to the lamb riblets (below), which were a bit more austere. Traditionally, Greek salad does not have any lettuce. Instead, it's filled with a healthy combination of tomato, bell peppers, cucumber, onion, oregano, olives, and blocks of feta.

Arnisia Plevrakia - Grilled lamb riblets with lemon and oregano

     I was expecting more from the grilled Arnisia Plevrakia, or Lamb Riblets. There wasn't much meat on them, even for an appetizer, and they were missing the usual flavor party that I've come to expect from lamb. Perhaps this is a more traditional, Grecian presentation of the dish.

Dolmathes - Grape leaves stuffed with rice, dill, and mint

     The Dolmathes were absolutely delish - I highly recommened these! My roommate in college used to make them, and they never disappoint. They are kind of like sushi, save the fish and with more of a wrap. Rice is covered with delicious grape leaves, and dowsed in dill and mint. They are packed with flavor and really fun to eat. Like little tasty sleeping bags for the rice!

Kirio Piato | Main Course

Seabream Fish, de-boned, with spinach and lemon

     For my main course, I ordered the Seabream Special, which came with spinach and was de-boned at the recommendation of our knowledgeable waiter. It was utterly delicious! The white meat was buttery and melted in your mouth. The only setback was a small section of the fish which had been overlooked in the de-boning process. I quickly realized why the waiter suggested to get the dish de-boned, because the bones were tiny and white, so they blended in with the meat of the fish and thus could be very dangerous if ingested and swallowed. I had to eat the rest of my fish very carefully.

Souvla Tis Emeras - Seasoned Chicken + Potatoes with Lemon

     For his main course, my dad ordered the Soulva Tis Emeras, which was perfectly-seasoned chicken and potatoes. He and I both agreed that the potatoes in this dish were hands down the best potatoes we've ever had! I'm not sure how these were seasoned and/or marinated, but they were packed with hearty flavors. The chicken was also seasoned very well - not overdone, but definitely enough for a lot of great flavors. The darling, white potpourri-looking bag was a half lemon to squeeze over the plate. This touch of zest and detail really added to the fine-dining experience at Kokkari. 

Glyka | Dessert

Baklava, Sorbet, Chocolate Cake

     As good as the entire meal was, the dessert really was the cherry on top! We went all-out and ordered the Traditional Baklava, a Flourless Dark Chocolate Cake, and a Yogurt Sorbet. They were all AMAZING. I highly recommend all three, and here's why.

Traditional Baklava, with walnuts, honey, and a side of vanilla-praline ice cream

     I went straight for the Traditional Baklava, a personal favorite of mine. It was the first of the three mind-blowing dessert experiences at Kokkari! I literally couldn't help but put on an amazed, wide-eyed, raised-eyebrows face after my first bite. It was freshly-made, warm and flaky. The crunch of the walnuts against the sweet honey flavors easily swirled and melted in your mouth. The cool vanilla-praline ice cream could not have been a more perfect partnering.

Sokolatina - Flourless dark chocolate cake with sweetened whipped cream

     The Sokolatina is a flourless dark chocolate cake. It is delicious and extremely rich! Goes great next to the icy Yogurt Sorbet Gratina, below.

Yiaourti Granita - Yogurt sorbet with seasonal fruit granita and mint syrup

     I've saved the best for last. The Yiaourti Granita, aka Yogurt Sorbet Granita. Let me just take a moment of silence for this hidden wonder of the world. Seriously, if you go to Kokkari, and order nothing else, order THIS. You can thank me later. Every single bite is automatically, involuntarily followed by an amazed face, no matter how many bites you take. I will try to describe such an innate wash of deliciousness best I can. First, it will help to know that granita (in this case red, above) is a semi-frozen dessert made from sugar, water and flavoring. In our dish, I believe the mind-blowing red flavor was a sweet watermelon and/or a hint of strawberry. The shocking and delightful thing is in the strength of the flavors that hit you. You are utterly ambushed by the taste of fresh, crisp fruit flavors, while simultaneously enjoying icy sweet sugar. The yogurt sorbet and mint syrup is a great tart juxtaposition to the sweet fruity flavors in the granita. Truly heavenly. 

Overall Experience

Traditional Greek Coffee, made over hot sands

     My dad and I really enjoyed our experience at Kokkari. We were there for a total of about 3 hours, but the time flew by thanks to the great food, service, and ambiance. The only real setback I experienced was the section of my fish that was not properly de-boned. That was a bit scary, but the rest of our experience was very pleasant.
     The food was delicious, and it's presentation was very nice. I loved how they put the half lemons of our main courses in little white potpourri-looking satchels, so the lemon juice didn't fly about.  The appetizers and main courses were very good, and the desserts were AMAZING.
      To me, the service and ambiance of a restaurant is as important as the food itself. Both the host and our waiters were very warm and welcoming, and our waiter was very knowledgeable about each dish and the various scotches. 
     The ambiance of Kokkari is as welcoming as it's service. From wall tapestries to tall wooden windows and giant gourds, it really feels like you could be in Greece. 
     I absolutely recommend Kokkari Estiatorio, especially their desserts - just double check that fish!

Dedicated to the best dad ever - Love you Dudu! :)

Kokkari Estiatorio on Urbanspoon


  1. Looks like an awesome restaurant, I always like the open kitchen restaurants. That coffee contraption is awesome, I never knew you could brew over hot sand, very interesting. I'll take a bottle of that 17 year old scotch!

    Happy Blogging!
    Happy Valley Chow

    1. Hahah right?? The hot sands boiler was just too cool. A staff member explained to me that it boils in only 3-4 min. Cool to see them incorporating true traditional Greek contraptions like that.

      Nice to hear from you as always! :D

  2. Love the hot sand coffee and dessert sounds right up my alley too. i bet your dad loved every minute your special dinner. I wish I could get to the city more to partake in all the restaurant awesomeness.

    1. Thanks Gina! Yeah we both had a blast for sure. You should definitely come into SF more - you only live once! :)

  3. Dear Chelsea, Thank you for your visit to my blog.
    This looks like a wonderful celebration dinner for your Dad's birthday. I wish him a very happy birthday.
    I am sure that you made beautiful memories.
    Blessings dear. Catherine

  4. A wonderful place and experience! The food looks really good.




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