On the eve of the early March Nor’Easter (that actually came), my dining companion and I found ourselves in the West Village dining at Nisi Estiatorio; a Greek restaurant with typical Mediterranean fare.
On that particular night, the crowd was sparse probably because the storm was imminent (though not sparse enough for us to claim a corner booth). The ambiance wasn’t spectacular, but it was very good for that particular area of the city. Space is at a premium in the West Village, but NISI makes the most of it. The bar was fairly small. The wall decorations were ecclectic…I couldn’t tell if it was art or some kind of sound dampening feature, or both. The large neon “The Life Aquatic” sign was interesting; it brought to mind the movie of the same name starring Bill Murray, but it was likely referring to the seafood focused menu. I imagine it would be quite distracting if I was sitting at the table next to it.
WHAT WAS CONSUMED
Bloody Bourbon: non-descript Bourbon, Grenadine, Triple Sec, Fresh Lemon Juice, Spiced Agave, Bitters (HIGHLY RECOMMENDED)
Mykonos Mexta: Metaxa 7, Grapefruit Juice, Agave, Fresh Lemon Juice, Mint
Seafood Fettucini: Shrimp, Mussels, Grouper, Grape Tomatoes, Basil, Parmesan
Branzino: Charcoal Grilled, Fresh Herbs and Capers
Grilled Octopus: Red Wine, Capers, Oregano, EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil)
I can’t say that I was WOWED by the food. It was tasty in all the ways Mediterranean food often is, but it wasn’t something I’d call unique or tantalizing. My main dish was the Seafood Fettucini, and it was actually quite good. However, it was missing something that would set it apart from similar dishes from other restaurants.
What was VERY tasty and perked me up a bit was the Bloody Bourbon cocktail. Usually I stick to a neat glass of Woodford Reserve (or Knobb Creek as a good substitute…or Bulleit if I’m desperate). If I do get a cocktail it’s usually an Old Fashioned with chocolate bitters. I decided I would try something a bit different, and was rewarded for loosening the reins on my taste buds. It’s a drink that I would definitely have on a beach somewhere.
With the exception of how long it took our first cocktails to arrive, the service at Nisi was stellar; in fact I can almost overlook the fact that it wasn’t the best Greek food I’ve ever had. Our waitress was attentive and actually asked whether she could remove dishes or glasses instead of assuming. The water glasses were filled quickly and stealthily to the point where I had to question whether I imagined actually drinking.
I recommend this restaurant if you find yourself slightly off the beaten path and you’re in the mood for stellar drinks.