Molyvos - 871 7th Avenue (at 55th Street), New York, NY 10019
N/R/W/Q Train to 57th Street
I heard good things about Molyvos from friends and from various user reviews. And although it's located in overwhelming Midtown, there's nothing mind-boggling about this warm and cozy spot.
As I mentioned, you feel completely removed from busy Midtown Manhattan as soon as you step into Molyvos. The lighting is soft and makes you feel relaxed and comfortable. It's also quite surprising just how large this place is--it extends back to what feels like a full street block.
The walls are colorful, cheery and decked with Mediterranean artifacts--beautiful clay pots, dishes and vases, oil lamps and pictures of Greece. It's all very charming and what I like about it is that it doesn't try to be too modern--like many other restaurants in Manhattan.
My friends and I chose our meals off the restaurant week menu--of course. It was great because there were lots of choices--the menu was nice and long. It bothers me when a place participates in restaurant week and then offers what feels like nothing.
We all got different appetizers and it was fun to try each other's food. The best one by far was Alexis'--the stuffed grape leaves. First off, it looked gorgeous and second, it tasted amazing. The arborio rice, tomato and garlic sauce really stood out--and the delicious pine nuts helped give it a nice crunch. Maya's giant baked white beans were also tasty and very different from the Greek appetizers I'm used to in Astoria. I especially liked the buttery breadcrumbs found on top! For my appetizer, I ordered the lentil soup with root veggies and pickled onions. The onions were by far my favorite part of this dish--they were incredibly sweet and refreshingly crunchy. And as I contentedly ate my soup, I looked forward to my next spoonful-- hoping for a pickled onion surprise.
My friends and I all ordered the same entree--grilled tile fish (it's a white, sweet fish), on a bed of braised veggies. The fish was wonderfully light and flaky. It also had a great crust, which was both crispy and a little spicy--and the bed of greens made for a nice and light side dish. We were happy with our order and while my friends were full, I finished my meal to the last bite--not because I felt I had to, but because I loved it so much.
We also got dessert as part of our prix-fix--and again, we ordered different options so we could try a variety. I liked all of them in different ways. Maya stuck to a traditional Greek dessert--yogurt with fruit and nuts. This was a great choice and the yogurt was silky, really enhanced by the fruit and nut topping. Alexis ordered semolina custard wrapped in phyllo dough, which was unbelievable. The custard was airy and the crispy phyllo texture provided a nice contrast. My choice of sweet sin was an almond vanilla cake with orange flavoring and cinnamonon cream. While I liked it, it seemed a little oily and I couldn't finish it. If I had to do it over again, I woud've gotten the Greek yogurt.
Service and Cost:
While our waiter was a little strange--he had a weird disposition--he was very efficient and knowledgeable. Our food came out quickly and everything that was supposed to be, was nice and hot. He also handled our complicated three-way check situation with grace. I know that my friends thought he was odd but I've seen a looot worse.
Cost-wise, you know what we're talking about--$35 prix-fix dinner. Something to be said though is that their restaurant week menu had select items where you had to pay extra. My friends and I didn't like this at all. Our mentality is "Why are you offering us a special and then adding $$$ on to it? What is the point of the prix-fix then!" Blah. Things are never what they seem.