Elysian Fields Cafe recently opened near Columbia University, and is already drawing quite the crowd. I visited on a Sunday evening, on the earlier side, and was surprised to see that the large dining room was already beginning to fill. While this may be a Columbia haunt based on solely location (Amsterdam and 119th, right off campus), the restaurant is far from a college gyro shop, as evidenced by the dining space – attractively lit with warm lights, decorated with rustic hardware, and framed by white brick walls.
On this particular Sunday evening, groups were mixed. Families, students grabbing a bite, couples, and solo diners alike were seated. This must be, partially, because the menu caters to all. Items range from spreads, “mezedes” (small plates), traditional Mediterranean platters of souvlaki and gyro, seafood options, and traditional Mediterranean fare, such as moussaka. With salad options too, vegetarians will be satisfied with their choices.
The menu at Elysian Fields Cafe, although large, is not overwhelming. Less adventurous eaters will find plenty of familiar foods. I wasn’t given a cocktail menu, but the cafe has a full bar, and the waiter informed us that there was a cocktail of the day.
The meal started with a trio of spreads. The stand outs were the tirokafteri (whipped feta) and the melitzanosalata (eggplant), but the mezedes we ordered (octopus, meatballs, and cauliflower fritto) were easily the best part of the dining experience. Although called “small plates”, the portions were generous and well suited for sharing.
The options are fun and in some cases, less traditional. The soutzoukakia (Greek meatballs) were unsurpassed – I’d recommend two orders. The traditional platters (souvlaki and kebab) were all good too, although the rice pilaf was mixed in with the pita and souvlaki. I just expected it to be served separately.
The restaurant was busy, and as servers may have been Columbia students themselves, requests were met in a leisurely fashion. However, service throughout the night was consistently friendly and accommodating, contributing to the warm environment.
Elysian Fields Cafe elevates the typical Mediterranean dining experience. This is especially amplified by the ambiance and selection of mezedes. Go for a relaxed meal with family, or to drink and share bites with friends. This is a great addition to the dining scene in Morningside Heights. Learn more on their website.Love to eat as much as we do? Join our newsletter for more restaurant news and reviews!
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