We had dinner at Evvia in Palo Alto last night. It's the peninsula version of Kokkari. The menu is almost identical, although regretably Evvia doesn't serve gigantes, and the desserts do not include the wonderful yogurt and honey. I had braised lamb shank and it was marvelously spiced, maybe cinnamon, coriander, others in that palette, not to mention huge. I doled out large hunks to my companions, and still had more than enough. It was served on orzo, and had an altogether homey, unpretentious quality. The monkfish special was also excellent. My only disappointment was the retsina, which was way too refined, kind of dumbed down for the tourists. I like the kind that makes people wonder how you can possibly drink it at all. It's an acquired taste, but I've acquired it big time.
The service was good and our server was accomdating, added two dolmades to the combination appetizer (taramasalata, melanzianasalata, tzaziki and dolmades with pita) so we didn't need two orders, and he created a Greek cookie and baklava dessert for me, even though it's not on the menu. Evvia is smaller than Kokkari, and not quite as decorator gorgeous, maybe a little noisier, although they're both definitely lively. It's every bit as pricey as Kokkari -- even without an extravagant wine choice, four people will easily spend $250.00. But that doesn't seem to keep people way -- it was amazingly crowded at 6:15, which was the only reservation we could get a week in advance. Maybe people really enjoy a change from the typical California nouvelle Italian that seems to dominate the white-tablecloth scene around here.