The Windmill

Chorio, Symi, Greece • 69 55 97 36 95

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It’s worth all 400 steps that it takes to get there. Located in an old windmill, of course, perched high above the town. Sadly, only the cooks are actually inside the windmill itself. Patrons are seated in a small semi-circle of about a dozen tables around it. And while one might expect incredible views from such a height, it is much to the contrary. The tables all face toward the back street, which has its charms I suppose, if you like watching the locals pass by, along with a few street cats.

But what the mill lacks in view it makes up for in spades once the food hits the table, which admittedly can take a while. But when the food comes out this good, I’m happy to let them take their time. No need to rush to failure.

Not a single miss was served. The avocado hummus was wonderfully creamy and fresh. Blended to order and as good or better than anything I’ve ever had.

Doubling down on the chickpeas, we also got a spicy dish as well, seemingly Moroccan inspired and Greek nailed. One bite and you knew these ladies weren’t playing around. Same goes for the spicy steak and vegetables, only this dish seemed to garner its influence more from Thai cuisine. Loaded with such wonderful flavors I was willing to overlook that the meat was a bit on the overdone side.

And then came the crème de la crème, or should I say the crème de la prawn? Basking in a bourdon and saffron cream sauce these crustaceans practically evaporated from the plate. As did the sauce. Worth an order of bread unto itself just to sop it up.

Even dessert was sensational. The whiskey chocolate tart and the lemon cake were both so different, yet equally impressive at seducing their respective places on your tongue. Tart and sweet and texturally gratifying as well. The lemon cake almost had a nut or ricotta-like quality to it. I would’ve examined it further had I not been so busy scarfing it down.

Then came the shocker. The bill. But it’s not what you think. First of all, it’s VERY reasonable for such artistry. So that was a bit shocking. So was the fact that they don’t take credit cards and we were a touch low on Euros, even with the modest pricing. Luckily the owner was so nice he allowed us to pay through our hotel, otherwise I would still be washing dishes as opposed to typing this review.

5 teeth

Ilili

236 5th Ave. New York, NY 10001 • (212) 683-2929 ililinyc.com

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I’ve only eaten lunch here (several times), but one of these days I will be back for dinner.

Of the many visits however, here are some of my learnings: For my first trip I had the prix fixe (great deal) and decided to go with the Phoenician fries which, I have to say, are probably the best fries I’ve even had in my life along with the Lamb Dip. The lamb was definitely good too, but compared to the fires, it took second.

The bread was also good (warm puffy pita), as was the cucumber, mint lemonade. The only miss was dessert, the caramelized banana bread was just eh.

As for decor and service, both were excellent. Decor being a very pleasant surprise. It’s sleek and hip and a very popular spot for happy hour.

So that rounds out my first impression. Upon returning, however, here’s what else I learned. Get the mezzes as opposed to the prix fixe. It’s definitely the way to go. The brussel sprout dish alone is worth a second, third, fourth and fifth trip. Easily the best brussel sprout dish I’ve ever had – and for those of you who have been to Cleo in LA, yes, this one is better.

We also had several other dishes from tuna belly, to lahamajeen, to hummus and all were quite good as well. The only thing that was a bit of a let down were the stuffed grape leaves, which is a shame, because that’s one of my favorite dishes- but whatevs- with everything else as good as it is, I’d put this in the top 5 med restaurants in the city without a second thought. Granted until I go for dinner I’m holding back on the fifth knife.

4 teeth

Sayat Nova

157 E Ohio St. Chicago, IL 60611(312) 644-9159sayatnovachicago.com

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The best stuffed grape leaves I’ve ever had- nuff said.

Okay, I’ll say a little more. I lived right next door to this place for 5 years and ate there about once a week, so I guess you could say I’m a fan. Such good Mediterranean/Middle-Eastern, no matter what you order. And the decor is nice and warm and authentic without feeling “themey” Sort of feels like a place you’d expect to find in Cappadocia, Turkey, with its cave-like walls surrounding the tables on the perimeter of the dining room.

Oh, and if you get in good with the staff, maybe they’ll light up a hooka and play some backgammon with you on a slower night.

4 teeth

The Ultimate French Fries

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Ilili – New York, NY

How random is it that a Lebanese restaurant should happen to have the best fries on the planet? My tongue literally did a double take when I had them the first time, but my friend who was with me was just as floored, so I knew my mouth wasn’t crazy.

Sure, fries in general are pretty hard to screw up. In fact, the only place I know that manages to do so is In-and-Out Burger, but the fact remains, the French have nothing on these Phoenician fries.

So what makes these Phoenician fries so special that they reign supreme over all the others? Well, consistency is key, that’s for sure. But there are many a good fry out there if consistency was the only metric. However, since we’re on the subject, to me, the perfect fry is one that has a slightly crispy exterior, but a soft, fluffy interior, which these do.

What these also have, mind you, is a consummate dusting of herbs and spices that will make your tongue so happy it’ll whirl like a dervish. And the harissa aioli they serve with it is pretty tasty too, but personally, I find these fries so incredible I down them naked. Not me. The fries.

 

The Ultimate Falafel Sandwich

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Taim – New York, NY

Leave it to the chosen people to create the chosen falafel sandwich. Sorry to get all religulous on you, but this sammie is biblical. Crammed to the gills, your pita will be literally hemorrhaging cabbage and hummus and peppers and tahini and about ten other things they manage to wedge in there.

It’s enough to make one worry that the falafel might get lost in that sea of accompaniments, but somehow they pull it off like epicurean pros. Perhaps by creating special falafel flavors you don’t see every day, like roasted red pepper, kalamata olive, harissa and spinach w/ feta.

This is all conjecture of course. Magic is always best left a mystery. I just can’t wait for their next trick.