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Holy Hades! {Schnipper’s and Kefi}

November 22, 2011

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How many nights in a row can you stay up until after 4AM and still get up at a decent time the next morning? By day 3 in New York City, B and I were on a roll to find out. Thanks to a bit of an unfortunate happening on Friday night, we spent Saturday morning running errands and had to bow out of Luzzo’s pizza with the rest of the group. Mid-errands, we needed to find some lunch. B suggested Subway. Yes, Subway. I vetoed Subway. We were getting ready to run across the street to an Italian place advertising gluten free pasta when I noticed that we were standing right in front of a decent looking prospect. So, instead of running through traffic (only a tiny bit of traffic), we ducked into Schnipper’s Quality Kitchen.

I wasn’t sure whether they were a chain (with only two locations, they aren’t) or just a local fast food joint, but it looked promising, so we gave it a shot. There wasn’t anything complicated on the menu for this meal. Green Chile Cheeseburger for me and Chicken Fingers and fries for B.999

My burger was pretty small, but that’s not a complaint. While it bordered on undercooked, it had a great flavor. B’s chicken fingers were the real hit, though. Amazing chicken! We left Schnipper’s after a super fast meal, satiated and back on the road to our errands.

The rest of the day passed fairly uneventfully. We walked through Central Park and made a visit to the Museum of Natural History. It was interesting enough, but I admit I’m not exactly a science buff. The MoMA was more up my alley the day before. Saturday is the day that flew by faster than all the rest. Before long, it was time to get ready for dinner.

B2 and I had planned ahead for Saturday night’s dinner as we had our largest group of the trip… Dinner for 9! After trying a few different places, we finally got lucky with Kefi.

We survived a subway trip and a pretty decent walk (on sore legs after three straight days of non-stop walking) from our pre-dinner cocktail spot at Flatiron Lounge and made it to dinner with about 30 seconds to spare. We checked in for our reservation and were immediately shown down (past the gates of Hell) to our table. There was nothing wrong with the space aesthetically. It was perfectly nice. I’m sure the other 400 people sweltering down there agreed.

It was seriously hotter than Hades… and they had people packed in like sardines. I saw what I thought would be our table ahead when the host turned to me and asked if we still had nine. I confirmed that we did and he stopped in front of a small-ish round table and motioned for someone to start adding more place settings.  I started to overheat, then I started to worry. Somehow, though, they managed to fit nine places at the table.

We sat down. I started to feel ill (heat does that to me). I worried more. Everyone else looked at the table slightly nervously and found themselves a place. Then, in what was perhaps, the single greatest humanitarian gesture of all time (or at least the previous fifteen minutes), someone… opened… a… door. Just like that, cool air rushed through the crowded space and that’s the last critical observation I have of Kefi.

Seriously, though, as soon as things cooled down, the crowded table didn’t seem so bad and everyone relaxed. Our side of the table ordered a couple pitchers of Sangria and we settled in with the menu. What a menu it was, too.

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So many options and they all sounded wonderful. The Branzino seemed to be a favorite around the table and I heard rave reviews of the grilled octopus with bean salad. I don’t know why we didn’t order it. Fortunately, our friend, MB, did order it so I was able to get a photo. I hear it was pretty great.

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Instead of octopus, B and I shared the meatballs to start. I wish I’d tried the octopus, but these meatballs were anything but a disappointment.

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For dinner, B opted for the Hanger Steak (sausage, broccoli rabe, manouri, sun-Dried tomatoes) and had nothing but great things to say.

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Though I seriously considered the Branzino, in the end I chose the Sheep’s Milk Dumplings (tomato, pine nuts, spicy lamb sausage). I definitely wasn’t disappointed, but may have had a little bit of Branzino-envy.

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And, of course, there was dessert. Chocolate Mousse & Halva with sesame ice cream. Just the right portion.

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The trouble with dinner for such a large group is that there’s no way you can ever talk to everyone at the table. The round table worked to our advantage, though, and we all got at least a few minutes conversation with everyone else.

From Kefi, we made our way a few blocks to a wine bar… whose name I didn’t notice… and there we stayed for a few more hours… maybe not quite until 4:00AM, but really, it wasn’t all that far off. I’ll admit it. I was getting tired, but there really wasn’t any time for tired. There was, however, time for the best dinner ever less than twenty-four hours later. How’s that for suspense? Ok, fine, it was pretty terrible, but will have to do for a little bit longer.

Schnipper’s Quality Kitchen ( E23rd/Madison) on Urbanspoon

Kefi on Urbanspoon

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