Saturday, January 05, 2008
Happy New Year! It's a few days past, but I'm just getting around to uploading the pictures. We had a hard time picking a restaurant for dinner, there were six of us, one who desperately wanted Mediterranean food and one who needed a vegetarian option. We also were looking for a BYOB that offered it's normal menu, not just some set price three or four course dinner. So, mainly because it fit every criteria we set for it, we wound up at Effie's Greek Restaurant on 11th and Pine.
We were starving when we arrived, probably because we were late, and immediately ordered the Thessaloniki Platter, a sampler of tzatziki, hummus, dolmades (stuffed grape leaves) feta, olives, Meletzanosalata (roasted eggplant and red pepper dip) and pepperonicini. The hummus doesn't hold a candle to Dimitri's, but the grape leaves were some of the best I've had and I really enjoyed the garlicky Meletzanosalata dip. I'm going to try to make a version at home soon.
Shannon picked out the Picantiki for us to share. It was like a Greek coleslaw, cabbage, celery, carrots, roasted peppers, oil and lemon, salt and pepper. It was crunchy and tangy and I liked it worlds better than any mayonnaise or salad dressing based coleslaw I've ever had.
Alison is also a big fan of octopus, ordering it every single time we eat at Dimitri's. We tried it here, and found it disappointing and overly chewy, though it was dressed nicely in good olive oil and red wine vinegar.
Our vegetarian oohed and ahhed over the night's special, roasted stuffed peppers in a tomato sauce. She's a funny vegetarian in that mushrooms are a bit of a turn off and the peppers were stuffed with a huge amount of them, luckily they were kept in large enough pieces to pick out.
I went with the recommendation of the waitress and ordered the Lamb Stew. Lamb and orzo pasta were cooked in a rich tomato sauce, then ladled into a ceramic dish and basked with cheese and oregano on top. The lamb was extremely tender and the orzo grains were embraced with just the right amount of tomato goodness to be called a stew. I'd eat this again, and again.
Angela came up from D.C. last minute and joined us to celebrate the New Year. She ordered the Shrimp Regata, which I can't find a description of on Effie's website or on Menupages.com. But I had a taste, so I can tell you it was penne pasta with about a dozen small tail-on shrimp in a lemony garlic sauce. I actually thought the pasta was a bit overcooked and the sauce was too tangy, but Angela enjoyed it.
Lamb is the secret to Alison's heart, and if it's rubbed with garlic and olive oil and grilled, it's even better.
Aside from my dinner of lamb stew, Liz ordered the next yummiest entree. Having eaten at Effie's before, she understood the power of Effie's stuffed chicken. It was packed with feta and spinach and was juicy and tender, not dry or overcooked the way some stuffed chicken breasts can be. Next time I go to Effie's, if they don't have the lamb stew, I'd definitely order this.
Only two desserts were offered that night, rice pudding and baklava. Neither screamed "Eat me!" but we ordered two baklava's for the table to share. It was very tasty baklava, though we could have used a change of silverware to help us eat it. The service wasn't the greatest, but it was New Year's Eve and our poor waitress was serving tables both in the main dining room and out in the back building where we were seated, so we tried to be reasonable and filled our own water glasses and retrieved extra napkins ourselves. Overall, it was a great meal, and totally reasonable, as the six of us were stuffed with all those appetizers and an entree each for about $180 including tax and tip.
Best of all, we drank lots of wine and got sappy about the past year and the year to come. I also got to spend my very first New Year's Eve with Angela, who has been one of my closest friends for the past nine years!
After dinner, we played it cool and got safely home before opening the last few bottles of wine and watching the ball drop in Times Square on television. Zoey even got in a festive mood and wore some decorations.
Hope all your New Year's were equally pleasant and safe!
Effie's Greek Restaurant
1127 Pine St
Philadelphia, PA 19107