Avra Madison Estiatorio is a bi-level Greek restaurant located just steps from Central Park. The 300-seat eatery belonging to the Tao Group, and offers traditional Greek cuisine with an emphasis on fresh seafood.
14 East 60th Street, New York, NY 10022, USA
Raw Seafood Tower
You may have noticed that I order Raw Sampler Platters at every restaurant that I review, and your observation would be spot on. I have been asked repeatedly this summer, “How many Raw Platters can you consume?” The answer is an indefinite and probably infinite amount.
It is no wonder that the follow up question is “Where has the best Raw Platter?” This became a bit of a game that I played this Summer. I love Raw Platters because they often are indicative of the care at the restaurant. An exceptionally fresh, well crafted and executed, Raw Tower consistently correlates with the other food that is produced in the kitchen. While the talent of a chef boggles my mind, especially given my lack of culinary skill (possibly completely devoid of same), the Raw Tower does not allow the ingredients to hide. Also, I love a good tower of shellfish.
Searching high and low around the country, the answer to what I believe to be the best was in my backyard; or slightly beyond if you consider my yard to be Central Park. I do.
My “backyard” also leads to East 60th Street, just a short walk from Barney’s New York, and home to my beloved ‘Fred’s’ also featured on AlphaLuxe before CLICK HERE.
To be silly for a moment, Avra Madison is the AlphaLuxe winner of “Best Raw Tower 2018.”
The concept of clean eating, consuming food in its most minimally processed, pure form, in a luxury restaurant is not new. As a matter of fact, it has been a matter of necessity for chefs to execute the patron’s requirement of serving fresh, pure foods. It is a tall order. How does one prepare a meal with little additive such as sauces or cream, and still make minimally handled food into a Splash?
The wrong ingredients and preparation a dish can quickly fall flat and often do.
Departing Avra I could not help but marvel at how they restored my faith in New York restaurant dining. I was in a hollow of sorts at the time: while the décor or popularity was “On” at some of my more recent venues, the food was somehow “Off.”
Kali spera sas!
Before I discuss the departure, I should share the experience.
Entering Avra Madison Avenue and having a seat at the bar is a treat.
The original Avra restaurant is still in a smaller venue on East 48th Street. This new restaurant opened in 2016 at 14 East 60th Street, which was once the location of the ‘Copacabana’. My most favorite Karaoke song ever; thank you, Mr. Manilow. This was a silly, but accurate indicator that I was really going to enjoy this experience. The location has also appeared in classic movies such as ‘Tootsie’ and ‘Goodfella’s’.
The design is meant to mimic the Greek countryside. Décor includes many indoor lemon trees, fresh fish on ice, sandalwood floors at the rear of the dining room, and off-white marble at the front.
Pristine white table cloths where homemade, fresh pressed “Avra Olive Oil” is the centerpiece amidst simple white plates and stunning cutlery.
The main dining room is inviting, chic and transported me from Midtown Manhattan East to somewhere more pleasant, quieter and tranquil. Wherever I was, in that moment, I really was fond of it.
Outdoor seating is available, but I would go inside. It takes your breath away. The downstairs, bustling with people is perfect for private parties, offering several configurations to satisfy private accommodations.
The wine cellar, while not the most extravagant I have seen, is lovely and quaint; somehow notable in design.
This restaurant is Greek, in cuisine, but offers a departure to Asia that is welcomed, in the way of fresh seafood with minimal handling.
Raw Sampler Royale
We began with the Raw Sampler Royale. East Coast Oysters, Jumbo Shrimp and Jumbo Lobster, “hold the Little Necks please.”
I almost fell off my seat.
The presentation was glorious, on a double decker platter.
I never have had a piece of shrimp like that at Avra. The texture was perfectly firm, the taste was crisp, and the temperature was chilled just to perfection.
As I write this, I really think I need to go and have the shrimp immediately.
The Oysters and Lobster were not far behind and certainly of most exceptional quality.
We went on to have the Grilled Octopus mixed with Vidalia onions, capers and red wine vinegar. I have a fondness for octopus prepared correctly. I tried cooking octopus for the Holidays; it was terrible. I learned that octopus is very hard to make correctly and truly is an art. This dish was flavored to perfection and the cut of the octopus was divine.
Accompanying our octopus dish, we enjoyed the Sashimi Tuna served with Avra Extra Virgin olive oil and Mediterranean sea salt. Simple and exquisite.
A lovely Hummus was served with house-made pita rounded out our meal; we were, after all, in a Greek restaurant.
Avra hides behind nothing. No elaborate sauces, nor extravagant presentations. Simply delicious, fresh food.
For an after-dinner drink we were treated to Ouzo Aphrodite by Barbayannis. The perfect kick of licorice flavored fun to cap off a delightful experience.
Matt at the bar is a delight. He knows the menu and will help guide patrons through the selection process based on culinary preferences.
Scott, the General Manager, provided a wonderful tour and is always on site and happy to meet with guests.
Real food, chic, classic, fresh and delightful.
Should you find yourself in any part of our city, make this your “must-do” culinary visit.
Angela Ranieri joins us as Contributing Editor with an extensive background in Fashion, Beauty and Digital Media. She has worked with PRADA USA Corp., Jurlique, Amore Pacific and the New York Daily News in management capacities including Marketing, Client Relations, Employee Relations and Training Management. She has authored and published the column, “Ask Angela,” featured on the Amore Pacific USA website. Her beauty advice has been featured in Shape and Fitness Magazines and CBS News.
She is a graduate of Syracuse University with a Bachelor of Science in Communications and Writing. Angela also has an MBA in Marketing and Entrepreneurship from Northeastern University. While at Northeastern, her Market Research on the Electric Car was published for University use.
Angela is currently creator of Circuit Cosmetics, a Brand Ambassador for luxury beauty line, Patchology, an On Air Guest for QVC and blogger for www.thelaughinmommy.blogspot.com.
In her spare time you can find Angela running, spinning, practicing yoga or getting beautified. She resides on the Upper West Side of Manhattan with her Husband, Son, and Chihuahuas.