Egg & Dart: "Rustic Greek" in the Design District Tries for Upscale Aura
The folks at Egg & Dart want you to know it is a "rustic Greek" restaurant. Those words are on the website, the menus, and the door when you walk in. They also want you to know the digs are "hip" and "modern," which was stated several times on the press release and in every interview with co-owners Costa Grillas and Niko Theodorou.
The issue might be that rustic Greek and hip and modern don't exactly mesh, which is why Egg & Dart is a confusing mashup of Old World flavors beneath a shiny mask of contemporary cool. Although it carries a stamp of authenticity (the owners are actually Greek and have an industry background), it seems to lack an extra oomph that would transform it from an overpriced taverna into our favorite spot for saganaki.
The cavernous space is light and airy now that it's entirely white-washed; unfortunately, it's still a little loud. Service was very friendly, if a bit on the slow side. The real problem here is the pricing. Entrées ($18 to $36) seemed to be large enough to warrant the cost, but the mezze portion sizes were fairly underwhelming. What truly confuses us most of all is the presence of "steak et frites"
($22) on the menu; the French dish is accompanied by "Greek fries" (which means they
are thick-cut and covered in sea salt, $6 à la carte) but seems to stray
from classical roots.
Our starter of grilled octopus ($15) was not much more than a nibble;
the bite-size pieces were tender, with a nice crusty sear from the
grill, leaving us wanting more. That said, the roast chicken that
landed on the table next to us looked delicious and covered the plate
with plenty of bird. Sadly, the veggies and potatoes, while appearing
flawlessly fresh, resembled wedding banquet food. Not exactly the
harbinger of taste innovation.
This cocktail, the "Greek salad" ($11), was our favorite creation of the evening. A base of tomato water is savory and refreshing with cucumber, olives, lime juice, gin, and pepperoncini for a spicy aftertaste that lingers. Feta-stuffed kalamatas complete the package.
Egg & Dart's moussaka was a bit mysterious, appearing more like a slice of stuffed eggplant meets shepherd's pie. The ground beef was tasty and fragrant with allspice, but the béchamel sauce on top had solidified into a mass resembling mashed potatoes. We could have used more marinara -- a trace amount on the dish was sopped up quickly.
A square of kefalograviera cheese ($10) was definitely
good -- it had the innate sting of ripeness characteristic of sheep's
milk, and a giant lemon wedge for plenty of acid. The child inside wanted to cry, "Opa!" when the cheese arrived, but
we must admit that the adult prefers to go without those smoky flames
that always draw attention. We wish it had been a
little more melty, though; the edges were crisp, but the middle never
oozed. We really wanted that cheese to ooze, sigh.
The egg-and-dart design motif in Greek architecture represents that rounded shape you see in almost every example of moulding remaining from ancient times (and on McMansions, of course), alternating with another shape representing an arrow. We fear that in this case, the dart has yet to hit the bull's-eye. Egg & Dart received a "good" rating in critic Lee Klein's lineup of Miami Spice offerings, so this might be the time to check it out without the prohibitive price point.
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