Kokkari Stars

crispy zucchini cakes with cucumber & mint-yogurt dressing - $8.75

crispy zucchini cakes with cucumber & mint-yogurt dressing - $8.75

Beet salad with dill

Beet salad with dill

Grilled octopus with lemon, oregano & olive oil - $11.75

Grilled octopus with lemon, oregano & olive oil - $11.75

It turned out a little different than I had expected it would, than any of us expected it would. Not that I didn’t have high expectations. I did. I have been hoping to dine at Kokkari for a long time. We just never quite seemed to be able to get it together. But when we saw Jim and Kelly a couple weeks ago, we all talked about getting together soon in the new year, and I suggested Kokkari as a possibility.

That suggestion stuck with Kelly, and she made reservations only the day before. So, the earliest we could be seated was 8:15. What a fateful decision that was.

We arrived, waited a few moments for our table, and then were led through the restaurant and around to a round booth near another large table with a party of eight or so. After a few minutes we noticed something distinctive about the large party.

In the meantime we ordered and started drinking our first bottle of Greek wine. By the time the appetizers came, we were giddy. We started out with crispy zucchini cakes with cucumber & mint-yogurt dressing, oven-baked giant beans with tomato sauce, olive oil & herbed feta, grilled octopus with lemon, oregano & olive oil, and beet salad with olive oil and dill. They were all fantastic. The octopus was perfectly cooked, tender, delicately charred and nearly transcendent.

It is true that we had started with wine back at house, and wasted no time getting going at the restaurant. But that’s not exactly why we were giddy. Nor was it the appetizers. Rather, we determined that one of the people in the large party at the next table was Nancy Pelosi. She may not be the Speaker of the House at the moment, but her star power is utterly undiminished!

Nancy Pelosi at the table next door

Nancy Pelosi at the table next door

But before our entrees arrived, someone else did: Gavin Newsom and wife stopped over for a brief hello with the Pelosi party.

Gavin Newsom

Gavin Newsom

As the introductions went around we discovered that the gentleman sitting with his back to us was former Senator Christopher Dodd, chair of the Senate Banking Committee. By now we were beside ourselves.

Retired Senator Christopher Dodd

Retired Senator Christopher Dodd

Grilled sea bass

Grilled sea bass

Dry-aged rib-eye

Dry-aged rib-eye

That’s when the entrees came. Sarah and Kelly each had the Mediterranean sea bass. Jim had the dry-aged rib-eye. And I had the grilled lamp chops. I ordered them medium-rare and they came perfectly cooked. I managed to eat every bit, though all the portions, appetizers and entrees alike, were quite ample.

Lamb chops

Lamb chops

Heavenly galatobouriko

Heavenly galatobouriko

Baked apple with mastica ice cream

Baked apple with mastica ice cream

Finally, we finished up by sharing a couple desserts: a spiced baked apple served with mastica ice cream, and galatobouriko, which was absolutely transcendent. The house brought us a round of muscat dessert wine from the island of Samos.

As we were finishing the politicos got up to leave and as they did, Chris Dodd, turned to us and said, “I hope weren’t raucous and bothersome.” That was all the opening we needed to engage him in conversation. We talked about his young children, and his trip here working on the financial reform. When I thanked him for his service, he said “that’s really nice to hear, thank you”, and seemed genuine and sincere. Ms. Pelosi shot us a smile and a wave, too.

Finally, as were leaving the restaurant, the group was still stuck at the entrance, and with the secret service detail thrown in, it was a traffic jam. I took the opportunity to say to Ms. Pelosi also, “thank you for your service and great work.” She thanked me and shook my hand. We burst out into the cold night air still giddy and more than satisfied with our selection of restaurant, the fabulous food,  and the stunning star sighting.