Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Greek Fare with a little help

Have you heard of Groupon? If you live in the United States you should certainly sign up, the website has amazing daily deals for a multitude of services, stores and restaurants where you get discounted stuff. You pay up front at the 50% rate and have a certain time to use your purchase. I've used it for many different services and was very very pleased.

This weekend I decided to use my Groupon for Thalassa Greek Restaurant down in TriBeCa my review in one word.. 'Spectacular' and in two words 'worth it'! The restaurant is a little hidden by all the well known restaurants in the area, they are also repaving the main road in front of it so it is not as visible to the public.
I walked in not expecting much but was pleasantly surprised! The restaurant has earned some great awards and the atmosphere if very inviting!

My first exciting moment was when I saw the icy mountain with fish, shellfish and gorgeous fresh vegetables displayed for all to see. You can literally pick your dinner!
We went with the prix fix 4 course menu with the perfect portion sizes.

To start us off we had a little amuse bouche of phyllo and cheese. It was crunchy and not saturated in butter. It was our first introduction to this restaurant and it left us craving for more!

There was also an assortment of 4 breads to chose from, served with hummus, olive oil and some marinated olives. The focaccia was slightly sweetened by caramelized onions and tasted a little like cornbread too. It was delicious! Their olive bread was also, as expected, delicious!

The best dish was this first appetizer, the most perfect and most amazing scallop I have ever eaten in my life. I dare any chef to make one better! I've eaten many scallops before but never one so perfectly cooked. It was wrapped in hair thin strands of phyllo and drizzled with an amazing refreshing sauce.  10+ points on this one!

The next appetizer was the rice and meat stuffed grape leaves. the flavor was much milder than the first appetizer. Still tasty, not overly vinegary like most grape leaves. I loved the kale in this dish too it made it different!

The main courses were filet mignon or fish. The filet mignon was cooked perfectly and was moist. The mushrooms were also a great side dish to it.

As for the fish, it tasted farmed to me. It laked flavor and the capers overpowered it a little. The spinach was also plain and the meager portion of baked potato was undercooked. This was the only complaint I had with this meal. But the meat dish was top notch.

And my favorite part as always, dessert. We had a little assortment of desserts on our plate, a pistachio Kataifi and Ekmek (Traditionally, the dessert Ekmek is made with a base of ‘Kataifi’ pastry. This pastry resembles angel's hair pasta or vermicelli as it is cut into very thin strands.) Cream ball covered in valrhona chocolate, with a small piece of baklava (to my delight, not overly sweet as most), and a little dollop of yogurt cream. It was another 10 score!

And I loved the little cookie box they gave us on our way out. I devoured it on the steps of the restaurant, why wait?

Do check out the restaurant's website. They also post a recipe of the month. Here is this month's. Lavraki Tartare. Lavraki is a Mediterranean sea bass.

Lavraki Tartare
2 thin slices of lavraki (Mediterranean sea bass) approx. 4oz.
1 tbsp Scordalia (garlic almond mousse)*
¼ inch thick sliced of a peeled cucumber
¼ inch thick slice of a roasted red pepper
¼ inch thick slice of a roasted beet
6 pcs poached grape leaves
½ tsp lemon and orange zest (mixed)
Salt and pepper to taste
Lay out the poached grape leaves, to form a square, and spread the scordalia on one side. Place the lavraki about one third in from the edge and on top of the grape leaves covering the entire length. Place cucumber, pepper and beet over the lavraki. Add zest and salt and pepper to taste. Take hold of the grape leaves and roll the entire length gently, but tight enough to avoid spillage.
Mise en Plate
Cut into 1 inch pieces, and place on serving dish.
Top each piece with tobiko caviar.

*Ingredients & Preparation for Garlic Almond Mousse
Makes enough for four cups, which and be refrigerated and used in other dishes, or as a garnish for almost any grilled fish.
1 oz fresh garlic
½ cup blanched almonds
1/3 cup vinegar
½ tsp white pepper
1 tsp sea salt
½ lb Country loaf (crust removed), soaked in cold water and squeezed dry
3 oz extra virgin olive oil
4 oz cold water
Add all ingredients (except the olive oil) to a food processor and blend for 3-4 minutes. Continue to blend while adding the oil in a slow stream. After completely blended, store in the refrigerator until ready to use.

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