Ever since I moved to NYC, I always feel like I'm the only Manhattanite that gets stuck in town on 3-day weekends. In the winter, it's the ski slopes and in the summer, everyone flees to the Hamptons. While not as dramatic of a comparison, these situations remind me of Christian holidays during my college years in Lubbock, Texas, when everyone would vacate in masses to celebrate with their families at home. I was the lone Jew stuck in a desolate city with an eerie "cowboy ghost-town" feel.
I was elated to learn that Emily, one of my BFF's, would be staying in town during President's Day weekend. We made plans to meet for dinner on Saturday night at Ethos, one of my favorite Greek's in the city. Since Em had a mani/pedi appointment at 6:15 p.m., we decided to meet at Ethos at 8:00 p.m. (not gonna lie...8 p.m. is uber late for me! Sometimes I feel like an 80 year-old woman stuck in a young gal's body...I'm a sucker for dinner at 6 p.m. and bed-time at 10 p.m.).
After what seemed like days between lunch and the time that I needed to leave my apartment en route to Ethos, Emily and I arrived at the restaurant simultaneously. From the street, Ethos stands out with its floor-to-ceiling "garage door" windows (which are able to open in nice weather for dining al fresco), bright royal blue awning, and gorgeous signage set on a bed of river rocks. Once inside of the restaurant, the space is modernly updated, vibrant and lively. The color palate is warm with tones of terracotta and gold and patches of charming exposed-brick wall. Perhaps my favorite aspect of the decor is the large fresh fish display perched on mountains of snowy-white ice, which reassures me that the seafood is at its peak.
For a 3-day weekend, Ethos was almost at capacity with patrons. Once Em and I were seated, a bowl of freshly grilled pita and a couple of random slices of crusty white and olive bread arrived. We were each handed dinner menus and a wine list and were almost too busy catching up to extensively peruse all of the delicious options. After receiving my glass of Greek red, Em and I were ready to place our food orders. To start, we chose to split tzaziki (Greek yogurt dip) and a Greek salad. I ordered the lemon-grilled shrimp and string beans for my entree, and Em went with the half-chicken and string beans.
Roughly fifteen minutes later, our tzaziki dip and Greek salad arrived. Served on a dinner plate was a generous "ice-cream scoop" mound of tzaziki, garnished with perfectly shaved radishes. The paper-white Greek yogurt was laced with chopped cucumbers, minced garlic, salt, pepper and dill. After scooping up a hefty glop of dip on to a pita triangle, my first bite of the appetizer was divine. The buttery, salty and crispy pita bread gave way to the delicately chilled tzaziki, full of flavor and texture. The creamy yogurt and soothing chopped cucumber took a back seat to the sharp spice of the fresh garlic and black pepper, thus making this traditionally subtle dip quite exciting. After nearly filling up on pita and dip, I was ready to dig in to the Greek salad. Perched atop a light blanket of chopped Romaine leaves were tomatoes, purple onions, whole kalamata olives, fresh oregano and thick cubes of feta drizzled with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. This was your standard, delicious high-quality Greek salad.
Once Em and I had nearly licked our appetizer plates clean, the dishes were removed and our entrees arrived ten-minutes later. At least six ginourmous butterflied shrimp shared my plate with perfectly stewed green beans. Each juicy shrimp was pristinely grilled over an open-flame, and then butterflied with tail-on. The succulent meat was as juicy as shrimp could be. The subtle lemon marinade was truly accentuated by the seasoned grill, making it hard for me not to finish every last bite. Ethos makes my favorite green beans in the world, and I don't feel as guilty about eating them as I would about eating a side of rice or potatoes. For all I know, the greens may be prepared using canned beans, as their texture is soft and velvety and their coloring is dull. They're cooked with crushed tomatoes, garlic, salt and have a kick of spice, which I assume comes from fresh black pepper. However they're cooked and prepared and regardless of whether they come from a can or straight from the farmer's market, I'm a huge fan of the final product.
After a delicious meal, Em and I ordered dessert. I can't tell you what it's called, and I don't see it on the restaurant's online menu, but I'll do my best to describe it. Imagine a burrito made of crispy phyllo dough, stuffed with a sweet and creamy cheesecake-like filling, then soaked in honey and topped with a couple dashes of cinnamon. Is your mouth watering yet? Despite being as full as stuffed sausages, Em and I had no problem finishing this truly amazing sweet treat.
For a wonderful Greek meal served in a casual and lively atmosphere, look no further than Ethos. Both your stomach and wallet will thank you.