Kokkari: food of the gods

June 23, 2011

It was only a mile’s walk from our North Beach loft to the Financial District, but San Francisco hills and the still-sunny-and-very-hot early evening weather made it seem like a trudge.

Still, and surprisingly, a small bowl of traditional Greek egg-chicken soup delicately flavored with lemon and oregano hit the spot for our opening course at the cosmopolitan Kokkari Estiotorio the other night. A frosty glass of flavorful Greek pilsner was my husband’s choice to cool down, while I ordered a cold goblet of fruity Matanzas Creek 2009 Sauvignon Blanc. It was a perfect start to dinner.

So perfect we could almost forget the roaring fire in the gorgeous fireplace nearby, even as the city was in the grips of a rare heat wave. Fortunately, we were seated by a large open window. Bring on the breeze!

Back to the soup. Kokkari’s Avgolemon soup was so good I fantasized about bringing a quart home. I was inspired to attempt to make it at home, for certain.

A big entree didn’t appeal in the heat, so we ordered several small plates each, including a classic Greek salad: no lettuce. The chopped cucumber was meaty, sublime even, mixed with onion, olives, green pepper and a delicious Greek dressing. I’m inspired to grow cukes myself, because I’ve never tasted one as good. {Are you as tired as I am of grocery store vegetables being bred for easy shipment, instead of taste? Even at Whole Paycheck.}

Professional, mature wait service is one of the best parts of any fine dining experience and Perry, our waiter, didn’t disappoint. He hit the mark without being arrogant or pretentious.We were pleasantly surprised when he brought over a complimentary dish of panfried kefalotiri cheese from the chef. It had a lovely texture but it was overpoweringly salty and we were unable to finish it.
A delicious flatbread of kalamata olives, caramelized onions, tomato and myzithra cheese was the perfect next course.

My husband found his spanakotiropita exquisite. The pastry was light and flaky; the spinach, feta, leeks and dill filling nicely creamy. His last course was Feta sto Furno, baked feta with tomato, capers and Metaxa brandy. he pronounced it “divine.” {Ok, that’s not what he said, but it’s my translation of it.}

When Perry asked if we were up for dessert, we asked to look at the menu. “I’d like to bring you something that’s perfect for a hot night like this,” he said. Shortly, he presented us with a cold mixed berry-bread-sugar concoction topped with whipped cream that was sweet without being cloying and a refreshing conclusion to our Greek dinner.

Food of the gods, that’s what the Kokkari website calls it, and we have to agree.

Kokkari at 200 Jackson Street is a must-visit for any trip to San Francisco. Reservations can be made through Open Table or by calling 415 981-0983.

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