Written by Marilyn Hansen and Hulda Lawrence
Molyvos, 871 Seventh Avenue between West 55th and West 56th Streets, (212) 582-7500. The facade resembles a stylish, sophisticated urban restaurant in Greece. There is a Greek tile border around the whole room, complete with doors and side panels brought directly from Greece.
On the left as you enter is the café, the most casual area of the restaurant. A little further along is the bar with a beautiful rolled copper top and hanging pendant fixtures. The floor is tile in the Greek earth colors of terra cotta and black. Stepping up into the dining room you see distinctive pottery and sculptures from Greece and authentic vintage black and white photographs, all from the island of Lesbos and the small fishing village, Molyvos, whence comes the name of the restaurant.
Once you have settled into your place, you will want to order a cocktail or select from the extensive wine list. There are many Greek wines available, many chosen for Molyvos alone.
Greek regional home cooking is what the menu is about. Everything is made on the premises, including phyllo and sweets. Menu categories includes hot and cold appetizers, soups, salads and entrees featuring many vegetarian dishes, as well as family-style platters, mezes (little plates of hot or cold appetizers), and desserts. Mezes are listed separately and are available at all times.
Signature dishes include hot appetizers such as Vegetable Dolmades, tender grape leaves filled with rice, tomato and herbs; fruit wood Grilled Baby octopus, with olives, fennel, lemon and oregano. The soup and salad dishes include Chicken Magiritsa, a velvety chicken soup finished with egg, lemon and dill; and Cretan Bread Salad, a toasted barley rusk topped with tomatoes, feta cheese, and extra virgin olive oil. Entrees include wood Grilled whole Fish brushed with lemon, oregano and extra virgin olive oil; Lamb Yuvetsi, braised savory marinated lamb shanks baked in a clay pot with orzo, tomatoes and Kefalotyri cheese; and Souvake, tenderloin of beef and vegetables that are skewered on rosemary branches and grilled over fruit wood, and served with chick pea rice. Greek desserts include Baklava, a fine pastry that achieves balance between the spiced honey syrup and savory walnut and pistachios.
Molyvos is known for its selection of traditional Greek spreads: eggplant salad, tzatziki, taramosalata and feta spread - each ready to spread on pita bread. Marinated mackerel served with warm potato salad is also recommended, as well as Beets and gigantes in Garlic Sauce. For hot appetizers, mezes enjoyed were Saganaki-Haloumi cheese, ouzo and lemon, Vegetable Dolmades, grape leaves filled with rice, tomatoes and herbs, and Keftedes, small meatballs with bulgar wheat pasta and zucchini served with tzatziki.
If your favorite Greek dish is moussaka, Agiaia's Moussaka is wonderful served in a individual casserole with layers of eggplant, potato and tomato, spiced ground lamb and yogurt bechamel.
Hours: Lunch: Daily 12:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m.
Smoking: Permitted in the bar and café. Wheelchair Accessibility: Yes
Credit Cards: All major
Price: Millennium lunch, three courses priced at $22.50. Pre-Theatre three course menu available 5:30 p.m. - 6:45 p.m., $34.50. Appetizers $6.75 - $12.50, soups, $6.75, salads $7.50- $14.50. Entrees $18.50 - $20.50, check market price and availability for whole grilled fish. Lighter entrees and sandwiches $12.50- $16.50. Side dishes $5:00. Mezedes $3.50 - $4.50. Desserts $7.00.
Dress: Casual dressy
Parking: Parking garages are located on nearby side streets.
District. Everything about this restaurant is theatrical. Its name, District, refers to the theatre district in which it is located at 130 West 46th Street, (212) 485-2999. The hotel to which it is attached is aptly named "Muse" and the decor seeks to give diners the impression that they are watching a theatre curtain rise.
The luncheon menu specifies "double features" which include Regina's Matzo Ball Soup paired with a Turkey Club Sandwich; Black Bean Soup with Spicy Seafood Tacos; and Mesclun Salad with Croque Monsieur, at $14. each. Our choice, Crispy Oysters with Seaweed Salad and Seared Tuna, was $16.
More substantial "double features" include Cobb Salad with Kentucky Fried Quail, Potato Pierogis with a Brisket Sandwich on Challah; Onion Soup with Steak Frites; and Tomato Fennel Soup and a BLT. We selected Lollipop Buffalo Wings with Blue Cheese and Mini Burgers with Fries. The Minis were small but deliciously sauced. Our other choice was Mushroom Fondue with Fontina Panini and Beef Carpaccio. These "double features" were $14 to $19.
Generous-sized cocktails are accompanied by tiny carafes holding an extra amount of the drink. Wine is available by the glass and in half or whole bottles.
Dessert at lunch is delicious Five Spice Apple Gallete served warm with cranberry chutney, a rich Chocolate Gianduja Pot-au-Creme or Apple Huckleberry Spice Consomme with Blood Orange Sorbet. On the a la Carte dinner menu I spied Chestnut Ice Cream and asked if I could sample it. Our efficient and helpful server, Karen from Seattle, brought me a portion and I found I to be very good. Desserts are $5 at lunch and $7 at dinner.
In addition to all the luncheon "double features," you can order singles of any one of the pairs with a price adjustment. For those who prefer the restaurant's "luxury boxes," there are Hudson Valley Duck Foie Gras from $18, Murray's Cheese selection from $9, and Petrossian's Imperial Oestra Caviar from $50.
Evening theatre-goers can enjoy a three-course dinner for $32, with the first course Autumn Chicory Salad, Salmon Tartare or Potato Leek Soup. The second course is either Catfish Oregenata, grilled Chicken or Braised Lamb Shank. Dessert is Bittersweet Chocolate Mousse. This special menu is served nightly from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.
A la carte dinner appetizers, from $8 to $15, include Duck Ragu and Chestnut Fettuccine; Ceviche "Fish & Chips" Blue Cheese Pear Beignet and Butter Poached Lobster. Entrees are Salt-Rubbed Sirloin, Roast Pork Loin, Grilled Tuna Mignon, Crackling Cod and Crisp Chicken Leg with Canneloni, $20 to $30. In addition, there is a chef's five-course tasting menu and special choices for two nightly, including Bouillabaisse on Monday, Cassoulet on Wednesday and truffle Boy's Roast Chicken on Sunday from $45.
Executive Chef Sam DeMarco and Chef Roger Curran, along with Pastry Chef Francisco Almaguer, have developed a fascinating menu with enough choices to satisfy almost everyone's taste.
Hours: Breakfast: 7 a.m. to 10 a.m.; Luncheon Monday thru Friday: 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Dinner: 5:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. daily
Credit cards: All major
Dress code: Casual
Wheelchair accessibility: Yes
Parking: 47th Street between Sixth & Seventh Avenues
The dollar sign indicates the approximate cost of dining for two persons, excluding beverages, tax and gratuity.