Every year since I moved to New York, my parents drive up from Alabama for the week of Thanksgiving. One year, we tried to do the whole thing in my little place (that would be the year of the Jive Turkey fiasco – and yes, I just Google’d and somehow, they seem to still be in business) and last year, we ended up doing it out at my sister’s place. Usually my mom ends up having to do way too much work and doesn’t even get to really relax and enjoy the day, and so this year, we decided just to be all modern and go out to eat instead. We noticed last year at this time that our favorite Greek restaurant in the city, Pylos, served a prix fixe meal for Thanksgiving. At only $40 per person (not including drinks), it ended up being actually less than what we’d spent on our turkey from Hill Country plus the cost of all the sides my mom had baked that year.
They had several seatings – 4:30PM and 6:30PM (they were planning on having a 2:30PM seating only if the 4:30 filled, so not sure if that came to pass – I can say there were people in the restaurant wrapping up, so I presume they had this as well). All which was required was a credit card, on which $8 per person would be charged if you were to no-show. To start, everyone received soup – which was an acorn and butternut squash soup with honey, nutmeg, and Greek yogurt (kolokythosoupa me meli, moscocarido kai strangisto yiaourti). Anytime I’ve had butternut squash soup, I found it to be too salty and sometimes bland. The honey and nutmeg helped to balance out any saltiness, which I loved – and the yogurt made it very creamy. I’m forever spoiled now and fear I can’t have this soup elsewhere because I liked this version so much better. If you are here and they happen to serve it again, don’t pass it up. It’s worth it.
For the first course, we had a choice between shrimp or a salad. The shrimp were large shrimp cooked in a light ouzo and tomato cream sauce (garides ouzo). The salad option was a baby arugula salad prepared with olive oil topped with toasted pumpkin seeds, pomegranate and shaved graviera cheese (Salata me roka, rodi, xismeni graviera kai pasatempo kabourdismeno me elaiolado). I went with the shrimp. They weren’t exaggerating in describing them as large. I particularly liked the tomato cream sauce, which wasn’t super creamy but was very flavorful, slightly bordering on spicy.
For the main course, we could choose between turkey and salmon. The turkey was several thick slices of roasted turkey breast stuffed with classic Greek chestnut-pine-nut-raisin-ground meat, glazed with pomegranate, ouzo, and orange (psiti galopoula gemisti me kima, stafides, koukounari kai kastana, glasarismeno me rodi, ouzo, kai portokali). The salmon was honey-orange marinated grilled salmon (solomos marinarismenos me meli kai portokali). I had to go with the turkey, which for me was the highlight of the meal. The addition of the ground meat on the interior gave it a Greek spin, and the turkey kept with the Thanksgiving tradition I wanted to maintain. Overall, I give them kudos for managing to slightly add a Greek spin on the American classic Thanksgiving staples, a fine line not easily walked so gracefully.
The main course was served along with a set of three sides for each person – rice, potatoes, and cranberry sauce. The rice was a combination of wild and basmati rice with caramelized leeks, walnuts and raisins (agrio rizi kai basmati me caramelomena prasa, karydia kai stafides). This was my favorite out of the sides. Unlike many times where rice is just a simple side accompaniment, I liked that they managed to add so much flavor and make it shine on its own for once. The potatoes were Corfu style fried sweet potatoes drizzled with Greek honey (glykopatates sto tigani, opos tis kanoun stin Kerkira, me meli). These were essentially homemade steak fries made with sweet potatoes in a jazzed up form. I wouldn’t have thought to drizzle the honey. What a simple addition that managed to make such a pronounced difference. The cranberry sauce (spitiki composta me krana kai alla moura) was housemade and included prominent slivers of orange in it for additional flavor.
For dessert, we were each served a slice of cheesecake. It was a Greek yogurt, pumpkin cheesecake with mixed berry compote (Tsizkeik me yiaourti, kolokytha kai composta apo agria moura). The yogurt was very subtle, and seemed to almost give it a lighter taste than most cheesecakes typically have. The addition of the pumpkin was a nice seasonal addition. I wasn’t sure if the berries would be an odd pairing with the pumpkin, but it worked quite well. While I couldn’t place the exact type of the berries, it was on the sweeter side and steered clear of the biting quality some berries (like blackberries) can have.
Overall, I couldn’t think of a thing I wished had been done differently. I’ve always been quick to recommend Pylos but here’s just another reason why I think they’re such a well-managed and distinct spot in the city.
Pylos – 128 East 7th St (between Ave A and 1st Ave) – 212.473.0220
Hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving! Anyone else try dining out somewhere for the holiday? Any recommendations for other readers?