We tried to make dinner reservations for the much recommended Kokkari as soon as we landed in San Francisco yesterday. We were out of luck. But it didn't take us long to think outside the box; what about lunch? Our luck changed when they were able to accommodate us at 1:30 p.m. Though we arrived right on time, they did not seat us until 1:45 p.m. Until that time we stood waiting in the bar area and we observed that the bartender was not the friendliest. He looked like he didn't want to be there today. I even heard him asking his helper to get him more glasses but in a demanding tone. We just hoped that this was not a sign of things to come. We noticed a large fireplace in the main dining area with a rotisserie with some kind of meat, which we later found out was lamb.
As soon as were seated we were welcomed by our friendly server, Peter. We were served a basket of wonderful bread and delicious olive oil. Mertz ordered the Artichoke Souvlaki; grilled artichokes and eggplant skewered with peppers and onions, accompanied with yogurt and pita. Though Mertz thought it was good, she didn't think it was outstanding as it lacked seasoning. Sujata had the Ravioli; roasted squash and fontina cheese with sage brown butter, mushrooms and hazelnuts. She loved her ravioli. I settled for the Moussaka; traditional casserole of spiced lamb, eggplant, potatoes and yogurt bechamel. I enjoyed my moussaka which was quite flavorful.
For dessert we thought we should at least order the Baklava; traditional walnut and honey baklava with vanilla-praline ice cream. Though delicious, we thought it was on the heavy side, unlike the baklava I have had from The Baklava Factory in Los Angeles. It was presented with a candle in honor of Sujata's birthday and this was on the house. We also ordered Rizogalo; Arborio rice pudding with honey roasted pear. We loved this dessert as it was not too sweet and it had nice flavors like cardamom and orange.
We were offered Greek Coffee and since I had no idea what Greek coffee was, I was game. For those of you not familiar with Greek Coffee, it is stone-ground coffee heated over hot sand. You could have it 3 ways, Sketo for no sugar, Metrio for medium sweet and Glyko for sweet. Mertz had hers sketo, Sujata had hers metrio and I had mine glyko. The coffee was very good but it was not sweet enough so when Peter came by I asked if he could add more sugar plus some cream. He whizzed my coffee away. In a couple of minutes my coffee was back and was 100% better.
Kokkari Estiatoria is located at 200 Jackson St. in San Francisco, California.