Loi Estiatorio, New York City – Restaurant Review
Imagine arriving at your favorite restaurant, which you were at just a month or so ago. Approaching the familiar looking entrance, yet something seems amiss. There’s a new name on the door, and indication of a different type of cuisine.
On a warm spring Sunday afternoon, the chef and owner of Loi Estiatorio, Greek celebrity chef Maria Loi, who was standing outside talking to a customer, noticed my slightly dumbfounded look. She turned to us and asked what we were looking for, invited us in, and soon we found ourselves sitting at the bar, enjoying excellent Greek wine from the sommelier, Taylor Katz, as well as some samples of Loi’s food.
Although Loi has no connection, aside from its physical location, with the previous establishment, Seasonal, the chef de cuisine, Arno Müller, is still commanding the kitchen and Mr. Katz, the sommelier, remained as well. The interior is largely the same, dominated by the wine bar in the center, but now brightened by panoramic photographs of the Gulf of Corinth on the walls.
We started with the restaurant’s signature amuse bouche, a dish called pougi, which is presented in a pouch (“pougi” means “pouch”) that is opened by the server. It is made with Chef Loi’s house made Greek yoghurt, feta cheese, Greek oregano, confit grape tomatoes, and extra virgin olive oil. It’s accompanied by warm slices of pita bread intended for dipping.
The pougi was followed by dessert, ekmek kadaiífi, a layer of shredded filo dough soaked in Greek honey and topped with custard, toasted nuts and what the menu describes as “light crème.” My dining companion and I left a mere four hours later.
The four hours we spent there were not really enough so a trip back was in the offing.