Global Alive Luncheon at Nerai
If I had to name the three most prevalent ethnic cuisines in New York City, I’d go with Italian, French, and then Japanese. After that? Maybe Indian. Or Chinese. It’s subjective -- you can agree or disagree about the order, but I think it’s fair to say that Greek Cuisine is usually not on many New Yorkers radar, especially when looking for a sophisticated place to dine on a night out. After Wednesday afternoon luncheon at the gastronomically inclined Greek restaurant Nerai, however, I’d say it’s about time that changed. Greek food is here, it’s delicious, and it’s beautiful.
Nerai, located on East 54th Street, has to be one of the prettiest restaurants I’ve ever stepped into. The exterior -- light colored and draped with twinkling lights -- is a far cry from the concrete and glass facades that dominate Fifth Avenue. It’s elegant, glamorous… but of course, the restaurant’s real sell is the food.
To start off the luncheon, guests were served an amuse bouche of Tzatziki and Tarama along with a dish of grilled halloumi cheese, served with fresh figs and a fennel salad glazed with balsamic.
Following that was the “Xtapodi Sti Skara,” or Grilled Octopus served over Santorini fava with caramelized onions. It was only about the third time I’ve had octopus, but even I could tell that everything was perfectly cooked and flavored. And as much as I liked the octopus, I loved the next dish: the “Orzotta Thalassino,” a seafood orzotta featuring octopus, shrimp, mussels, and calamari. When I go back to Nerai (which will definitely be soon), this is 100% what I will be ordering.
To finish up what had already been an outstanding meal, the chefs at Nerai whipped up a “Paidakia Sti Skara,” or lamb chops served with honey glazed carrots, dolma, and oregano jus, and then followed it with a decadent dessert: A Tsoureki Bread Pudding filled with almonds, chestnut gelato, and praline cream. And is all of this doesn’t already sound amazing, just know that In addition to the fine food, Nerai had their talented Wine Director, Mr. Michael Coli, choose the wine pairings for each course. I don’t think there was single person by the end of the meal who was not only happily stuffed, but a little sloshed -- in the classiest way possible.
Special thanks to the host, Evageline Plakas, and Grigoria Kamaterou, for sharing their enthusiasm and love of Greece!