This weekend my mom came to visit NYC from MN, and what a fabulous time we have had so far! She arrived Friday, and came to my lab to see where and what I’ve been up to. My experiments had not been cooperating super well time-wise, so while I finished up, my PI graciously gave her a tour of the lab. I finished up before too long, though, in time for us to have a nice dinner. My mom and I both love Greek food, so I had looked up several of the best (but not extraordinarily expensive) Greek restaurants in the area. After having her take a classic pic of me in front of the place that brought me to NY, we headed off to one of these restaurants – one called Snack Taverna.
It was definitely a winner! We walked in, and got seated at a lovely little table for two in the front window of the restaurant – a prime spot for observing and people-watching, as well as chatting! We got four small plates in total, which we shared (the best way to do it! Then you get to try more things!), as well as dessert – but I’m getting ahead of myself.
They first brought us a tiny little bowl of olives (for free!), which was the perfect appetizer after a rather hot walk to the restaurant. I did not used to be a fan of olives – and I don’t think I will ever like the canned black kind – but over the last year or so olives have been growing on me (so if you don’t like them, keep trying and see!). These olives were good Greek olives and delicious, so I happily enjoyed them with my mom.
Next they brought us dolmades – grape leaves stuffed with delicious things, set in some kind of yummy walnut-y sauce. They were delicious! As an added bonus, when the waiter saw me trying to take pictures, he kindly brought over a stool and put a napkin on top, so I would have a photo-worthy staging space! I hadn’t tried dolmades before, but would definitely recommend them – delicious, flavorful, and not overly-rich.
Then they brought us pita bread and melitzanosalata (smoky eggplant spread – I looked up the spelling to be sure!). That was also incredibly good. Eggplant is such an incredibly versatile vegetable – it can be made into Italian dishes like rollatini and parmigiana, roasted like a regular vegetable, made into a wonderful almost hummus-like spread called baba ghanoush, or eaten in the form of melitzanosalata (which was a little baba ghanoush-esque)!
Then they brought out the watermelon salad. Wow was this refreshing. Watermelon, greens, a minty red-wine vinegar dressing, and plentiful feta, this truly hit the spot after such a hot day. My mom and I just kept exchanging glances of bliss as we bit into the watermelon, between our chatting and our enjoyment of the other food.
Last but not least, they brought us lamb triangles – kind of like spanakopita, but with lamb instead of spinach. These were great – a little richer and a little more filling than the other small plates, they rounded out our meal nicely.
Rather than entirely fill ourselves up on the delicious small plates of food, my mom and I left a few pita uneaten, saving room for the delicious-looking dessert menu. My mom went for baklava – a personal fave of hers – and I ordered the rice pudding.
The baklava was exquisite – truly some of the best I have ever eaten in my life. My rice pudding was likewise excellent – to be precise, it was vanilla-scented rice pudding garnished with pine nuts, apricots, mint leaves, and a lemon shortbread cookie. As I told the waiter, I pity the people who don’t make it to dessert (though filling up on the incredibly good main-meal food is certainly a viable option).
Overall, it was a lovely dining experience! My mom and I took our time, catching up on our respective summers as we enjoyed the food. Our window seat was a perfect spot, the waiters were friendly and attentive, and the food was truly incredible. While this food was particularly good, I sometimes forget how wonderful Greek/Mediterranean food is in general – delicious and flavorful, but also not too heavy or rich. Also, at some point my mom mentioned to the waiter that I have a blog, and when he gave us the bill he gave me a little card and asked me to write down my blog’s website: “I want to check it out.” I really loved that, and it made me happy, so extra points to him (especially if he reads this)!
After dinner, we headed back to the hotel for a relaxed evening and some much-needed sleep (my mom had a very early flight, and I was feeling tired). The hotel, part of a chain called EVEN hotels, is really cool! Our room includes a yoga mat, several exercise strap-things, and an exercise ball, and the hotel has a fantastic gym free for use by guests. Overall, it is very health-focused, with some excellent room-service options, and free flavored water (lime ginger and lemon mint) by the front desk.
More about our weekend to come!