Greek restaurants might not be the first place that come to mind when you’re in the mood for brunch, but if you find yourself in Midtown New York on a weekend afternoon, you might want to consider visiting Kellari Taverna, on 44th Street between Fifth and Sixth avenues, which we visited this past weekend at the invitation of the restaurant.
This restaurant specializes in seafood, with fresh fish flown in daily from all corners of the globe, including Athens. It offers a handful of menu varieties, with a la carte as well as a several prix-fixe options available, including lunch and brunch, pre- and post-theater, and a Sunday lobster feast. We sampled the prix-fixe brunch menu, which includes three courses (an entrée, main course, and dessert), coffee or tea, as well as unlimited brunch cocktails for $34.95 per person. While it was a frustrating meal at times, the meal was ultimately redeemed by a lovely piece of fish.
That frustration stemmed from the first thing our waiter said to us after we sat down: The restaurant was out of quite a few menu items, including avgolemono soup, chicken, salmon, and French toast, even though it was nearly empty. From the now-quite-limited menu, we tried the replacement soup, made with carrot puree and chunks of shrimp, which lacked any discernible Greek influence but wasn’t bad nonetheless; zucchini-feta fritters, which were crispy and flavorful if a bit heavy; and the salmon’s replacement, arctic char, which was perfectly cooked and served alongside an addictive if slightly oily spanakorizo (spinach and rice). A plate of Greek cookies was a smart and (relatively) light way to end the meal.
The sprawling space itself is gorgeous, featuring a high ceiling with decorative wooden beams, a large fresh seafood display, dark woods, well-spaced tables, and a loft loaded with wine bottles overlooking the main dining area. Service was professional and unobtrusive, and the servers weren’t shy about refilling our glasses.
Kellari is a solid brunch option in the crowded Midtown scene, and it’s certainly an attractive-enough restaurant to while away a couple hours over a leisurely afternoon. Before taking a table, however, we suggest you ask what’s on the menu – and what isn’t.