Jack’s Wife Freda

After a few failed attempts by all of us on separate occasions to try Jack’s Wife Freda, we finally managed to have dinner at their original location in Soho. I know that they’re famed for their brunches and lunches, but we were in the area and the wait was only around 30 minutes for dinner. We were seated in their corner booth and were given time to look over their menu, which also works as a placemat.

We opted for two appetizers to share: the Salt & Pepper Eggplant ($8.00) and Spiced Beet Dip ($9.00). The Salt & Pepper Eggplant was diced into cube-like shapes and then lightly fried. The cubes are paired with a delicious Tzatziki sauce that I actually used later to eat the fries. The Spiced Beet Dip was a nice surprise. I was a bit apprehensive about it since I’m not usually a fan of beets but it was pretty good. The dip was a bit sweet and was topped with one of my favorites – goat cheese. The Beet Dip was served with warm pitas, which I quite enjoyed.

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I had the Peri-Peri Chicken ($20.00) with a diced salad of cucumbers, onions and tomatoes. I quite liked the diced salad because it was sweet and vinegary at the same time – great for opening up the appetite! The chicken was very tender and juicy. The portion size was huge and had I not given pieces of it away to the other members of my party, I probably wouldn’t have finished!

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I also sampled their Bloody Mary Mussels with Fries ($18.00), which was really good. I was skeptical because I’m not a big fan of Bloody Mary’s as a cocktail but with mussels, it works. The broth was tomatoey and just a bit spicy, which didn’t overpower the mussels at all. The mussels themselves were super plump! There was so much more mouthfeel to each mussel than the smaller ones in other restaurants.

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We opted to skip dessert since we were all so full but I did have an iced latte. They serve Stumptown! This was a huge plus in my books because I absolutely love Stumptown coffee and love restaurants that serve it. Service was Β attentive enough but I do think the space is too small. The tiny space meant a loud dining room so I don’t recommend Jack’s Wife Freda if you’re looking for an intimate date location. Come for the food but definitely plan an alternative if you want to sit and talk.

Taverna Kyclades

Ever since a friend of ours brought us to a restaurant that served traditional Greek food, we’ve been having constant cravings. And we’re not even craving the typical Greek dishes like souvlaki and pita. We’ve been craving the goodies like grilled octopus and lamb chops! So on a plan-less Friday night, we did a quick Yelp search and headed over to Taverna Kyclades in the East Village to try to satisfy our Greek food cravings!

We arrived around 6:30pm and was seated right away. The dining room was about half full so it was a tad noisy. No big issue but we did have to lean in a bit to hear each other. We were given menus to look over and offered tap water almost immediately after sitting down. We spent a few minutes with our menus before asking our waiter for a bit of advice on ordering. And I have to say he was spot on with his recommendations!

To start, we ordered their Traditional Greek Salad ($8.95), which had a small amount of romaine lettuce, large tomatoes, small cucumbers, olives, onions and a huge slab of feta cheese. Our waiter told us that a small portion is more than enough for two people and we’re glad we listened to him. The small portion is more than enough for two people to share! The feta was amazing, the veggies were fresh and I absolutely love that they use tiny cucumbers! I’ve always thought that large cucumbers were troublesome to eat and whenever I make salads, I also use smaller ones.

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While we were making our way through our salad, the Charcoal Grilled Octopus ($17.95) arrived. Our waiter cut our octopus up for us, which I thought was nice. Everything was in bite-sized pieces for our pleasure! The octopus was fantastic! I think I’ve had better before – but it was really satisfying. The octopus was fresh and I love how simple the dish is – lemon, olive oil, salt and pepper. You can really taste the octopus this way without a heavy sauce to cover it.

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Next up was our entree choice. We opted to share the Galeos, or Fried Baby Shark ($15.95). They offer the dish grilled or fried so we asked our waiter for his recommendation. He told us that he wanted to say grilled since it’s healthier but the fried is definitely tastier. We listened to his advice and went with the fried and boy was it good! Neither of us have had shark before so this was a new experience for both of us. It was surprisingly good – each piece has a large bone in the middle but otherwise it was very easy to eat. The meat was tender and very soft. It tasted amazing with the garlic dip on the side!

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Each entree comes with a side of your choice between rice, fries, lemon potatoes and horta. We went with the lemon potatoes and they were so good! I think these are the best lemon potatoes I’ve ever had in my life – the potatoes were warm and had just the right amount of lemon flavor. It wasn’t too overpowering and had just the perfect tart taste.

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After our dishes were cleared away, our waiter presented us with a complimentary dessert! It was a generous portion of a type of custard wrapped in phyllo dough. It was very tasty and just the perfect finish to a very savory meal. I especially loved the custard part!

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I thoroughly enjoyed my meal at Taverna. Everything tasted super fresh and I loved that besides the fried shark, everything was light and refreshing. Our waiter was attentive and gave such spot-on advice. And the complimentary dessert didn’t hurt either! I can’t wait to be back to have more octopus and maybe try the lamb chops next time!

A Walk into Greece

Souvlaki GR first started off selling souvlaki out of a blue truck to the people of Soho, Manhattan. Now, a year later, they have their own restaurant in the Lower East Side while the truck parks regularly at South Street Seaport.

Last year, the Souvlaki truck won Rookie of the Year at the Vendy Awards, which are annual awards that judge food trucks. This year, the Souvlaki truck won People’s Choice of the Year, being voted by the attendants of the Vendy Awards as their favorite.

I first started following Souvlaki GR as a food truck around a year ago. The boyfriend and I stumbled on their truck on their first day out in Manhattan. It was fate. We had already eaten lunch but the moment we walked by and smelled the charcoal grilled souvlaki, we fell in love. Their chicken sticks are sold in singles or in a box of stix. The “box” offers 6 sticks with a side of grilled pita and tzatziki sauce. They also offer pita souvlaki, bifteki sandwiches (Greek version of a burger), Greek fries and salads.

When I found out that Souvlaki GR was opening a restaurant, I was beyond ecstatic! Finally, I wouldn’t have to rely on Facebook and Twitter to check if the truck was nearby and then play treasure hunt to find it. However, life came in between the souvlaki and me. I wasn’t able to go check out the restaurant anytime within its first month of opening. I wasn’t even able to make a visit within the first six months of opening. But finally, I had a free afternoon where I was in the neighborhood and I made my way over to the restaurant that is painted the same blue as the truck.

The first thing I must comment on is the decor. Upon walking into the the restaurant I felt like I had walked into a house from the countryside of Greece. The walls were painted stark white with the beams and windowsills being a startling blue. From the pictures I had seen of the houses on the Greek waterfront, this was exactly what it looked like. We were given the option of sitting in a corner booth with pillows or on a table by the front with chairs. We chose the corner, which turned out to be really cozy and comfortable. We were then given the menu, which had not changed from the truck menu that we were used to.

For our appetizer, we ordered the Greek fries. Their Greek fries are hand-cut french fries that are then covered with feta cheese, oregano, and salt & pepper. The order was huge and definitely large enough for four people. We were a party of two and we had to take about half the order to go. It took a lot of will power to stop eating the fries, because they were just that good. The feta cheese added to the fries made it a lot tastier than any fries I’ve had before. The large order of fries came up to only $5, which I find amazing considering how many fries you get.

We ordered our usual chicken box stix. The boyfriend likes the chicken sticks more but I personally like the grilled pita more. Paired with the tzaziki sauce, the pita could easily be eaten on its own. The chicken sticks tasted exactly like we remember them – grilled to perfection without being charred or bitter. The fact that the chicken sticks are charcoal grilled gave it a very distinct flavor than a regular gas grill.Β 

If you’re in the area, Souvlaki GR makes a great quick and cheap lunch spot. It’s been more than a year since I’ve been a faithful follower of Souvlaki GR and I will never grow tired of their chicken sticks and pita. For Souvlaki GR, I give them a 5/5 stars so definitely give them a try!