Although I’m learning to really love my newly adopted hometown of Stamford, I do occasionally trek outside the confines of Fairfield County to experience what the surrounding areas have to offer. After all, good food can be had just about anywhere. Then again, so can bad food.
So it was no surprise that I was thrilled to once again venture into New York City for a Sunday afternoon brunch at a Greek restaurant and to finally meet Christina, an ex-colleague of my husband Maarten’s and also a native of Athens, Greece. Having eaten Greek food before, but not being the most prolific in my knowledge of the cuisine, Christina was recruited to select a few places that she thought would be worthy of our stomachs. Of the three restaurants that she had previously dined at, the ultimate decision on where to go was placed in my capable hands, compliments of Maarten.
It was a tough decision. Food versus food versus, well, food. In the end, however, I chose Ethos.
Maarten and I arrived fifteen minutes early for our 1:00 o’clock brunch date so, as would be expected of us—well, actually, it would be expected of me—a cocktail was in order. I would be remiss if I dined in an ethnic restaurant and didn’t partake in that culture’s native drinks, food, etc., so I selected a glass of Greek white wine, Kouris Roditis. It possessed an amazingly fragrant taste—inasmuch as you can taste a bouquet—and the finish had just a touch of honey infusion. It was an excellent wine with a hint of fruit but without a fruity overplay.
Ethos is not a large restaurant, but what it lacks in size it more than makes up for in character, charisma and, of course culinary charm. The Greek music playing from the overhead speakers can be a bit loud at times, but not overly distracting, especially if you’re too busy to notice because you’re enjoying an authentic Greek dish and have no concerns about such minor frivolities.
Ethos’s menu boasts an exciting array of dishes, including soup, hot and cold appetizers, salads, fish, char-grilled selections, sides, dishes baked in a clay pot and specialties. Believe me when I tell you that it’s not easy coming to grips with what you want to order, but your diligence will pay off in the end.
Maarten and I waited until Christina’s arrival before ordering appetizers, and even then, after fifteen or twenty minutes of perusing the menu, our minds still weren’t firmly made up. Would it be hot or cold appetizers? Perhaps the Soup of the Day would suffice? The myriad of selections made my eyes cross in a fierce way. Spanikopita, a perennial Greek favorite of mine since I discovered the joy of spinach at the tender age of 43, was a good bet. However, I wanted to straddle that fine line between safe haven and out of control (if perhaps only in my mind). I walked the proverbial tight rope and lived to tell about it: I ordered the Ethos Saganaki. Maarten ordered Halloumi—another favorite of mine—and I mentally steeled myself to be resistant to the charms of the cheese lest I eat it all before he would even get half an opportunity to indulge in his own treat. Christina played it safe and healthy and had the Elliniki, the classic Greek salad. Her resolve put me to shame as, pig that I am, I wanted to order the Kalamari Yemisto in addition to the saganaki.
Once we finished devouring what was left on our plates, the table was cleared of all vestiges of the appetizers, utensils were shifted about and cups and condiment dishes were rearranged to make room the entrées. While we waited, Maarten and Christina played catch-up after losing contact with one another for a number of years. Renewing old friendships—and making new ones—is a joy indeed.
Ordering our entrées was just as time-consuming as deciding upon the appetizers had been, but after deep concentration, careful consideration and a furrowed brow or two, we each decided on what we felt would be the epitome of broad daylight dining in a Greek restaurant in mid-town Manhattan on a Sunday afternoon. And when the plates were finally brought to the table, we knew that we had collectively made the right decision.
Two and a half hours after stepping into the world of Ethos, I emerged a believer in what they were trying to accomplish—or, should I say, in what they actually did accomplish: Serving up appetizing food that leaves you wanting far more than the boundaries of your already-full stomach can handle.
Would I recommend Ethos? Without a doubt, Ethos comes highly recommended. And dare I say, I could probably make a special trip to NYC just for the cuisine.
Is Ethos a good value or do you need to take out a loan to eat here? Surprisingly, the prices at Ethos were not astronomical and provided ample value for the money, especially considering the quality of the food. The hot and cold appetizers ranged from a meager $6.50 (quite a few to choose from at this price) to $15.00 for the Kreatomezes (chicken breast, lamb chops, kefte and sausage). Although I declined to have any of the fish selections, they are priced by the pound, so how much you pay is totally dependent on how large or how small your fresh catch is. The remainder of the entrées are also affordably priced.
What about atmosphere and ambience? Ethos is small, but I know first-hand that good things come in tiny packages. The staff is friendly, attentive, and they do an admirable job of describing a dish that customers are unsure about (how it’s prepared, portion size, etc.). My personal pet peeve—loud music—was not stirred to the limit at Ethos and I didn’t get the feeling that I had just walked into a nightclub on a Saturday night.
495 3rd Avenue (between 33rd & 34th Street), New York, NY 10016 (212) 252-1972. Ethos also has two other locations in NY.