DO you want the good news or bad news first?
OK, the place looks great - new semi-circular bar with maybe 20 - 24 seats, nicely appointed with contemporary finishes and TV tuned to Boston sports...and music piped in is contemporary adult soft rock hits. A few tables are set in and around the bar area, which is now about 1/3 of the establishment.
The dining room - nice nice nice too.
Unfortunately, I think I liked to old Ithaki better. Everything from portions, quality and service are in need of improvement.
The same bar music is piped into the dining room. Hey I love rockn'roll put another dime in the jukebox baby...but when I am dining and wanting a romantic, quiet dinner, need I hear "Lost in the Supermarket (Clash), "All I wanna do.." (Sheryl Crow) or anything by Billy Idol? To make matters worse, our server could not hear my delicious dining companion over the speaker which was right over our table.
My wine glass ran empty for 10 minutes AFTER I asked for a refill so I ate my salad without any wine to accompany. I let the Maitre De know; he said to 'give us a break we just opened'.
But the bill reflected 2 glasses and not the 3 I drank so....OK, I can let it go. Still, the place was NOT busy and they should have been more attentive. The server re-set the table after the salad and placed 4 new pieces of silver and said "excuse me, excuse me, excuse me, excuse me" as she placed each one. Very odd.
A neighboring table was loud; one patron was holding court on a variety of subjects (I am well-versed in factory-farmed chicken, thank you very much) I wished to hear no part of (he WAS an idiot IMO) - not entirely the fault of management, but the dining room is rather large so perhaps the couples in for a quiet meal might appreciate the larger parties being seated on the OTHER side of the dining room? Just a suggestion.
Well, the Greek salad (for two) which used to be splendid and plentiful, was neither. It came with a large, flavorless tomato ( better tomatoes can be found at WF or Costco!) in the center of the plate which was sliced only part-way through, which left me to my own devices with a butter knife to make the final cuts to so serve it up. It came with a minuscule (maybe the size equivalent of a small wooden matchbox) piece of unremarkable feta cheese, 4 olives, three razor thin sliced of yellow bell pepper and about 4 forkfuls of dandelion greens. The dressing was forgettable. I wish a had a picture of the salad they used to serve versus the one they serve now.
The grilled octupus, while delicious seemed to be much smaller in portion than the same app when I ordered it before the renovations. It took forever to arrive; again they were not busy at 6:30 on a Sat night. The garlicky mayo came in a tiny plastic cuplette; who thought of that? Takes away from the presentation. And lots of the dressing gets stuck in the corners - so for 'fine' dining, its a little awkward to be digging it out.
My DC ordered the Moussaka; I had a taste and it was pretty good. She seemed to enjoy it.
I had the braised lamb shank; no complaints there either.
I do miss the old menu which had a great pasta dish - their version pasta and clams - which had a tagliatelle style pasta with three kinds of clams in a briny broth. The new menu has specials section called "Inspirations" which I passed on, feeling uninspired overall. There was a crispy-fried whole black back flounder ($27) that might have been good but it seemed rather steep for fried fish. In fact when I read the new menu, I closed it, then re-opened it hoping to find something I really wanted to eat. When my DC asked me what interests me, I said "let me look again". ( We were STARVING after a day of yard work and long walk with the dogs....they say hunger is the best sauce but.....)The lamb shank in Greek place is always a safe bet and I enjoyed it but something seems to be missing from the new menu but I can't say exactly what. Depth?
Well, I hope they tune it up. Bigger salads, better ingredients, better service, less rock'nroll in the dining room and a more interesting menu. I used to love this place and I will in fact go back in a few weeks next time I feel like dropping $145 on dinner for two....and it better be much much better that it was. I think this is what happens when a great restaurant hires consultants - expand the bar scene dining/drinking, raise prices, serve smaller portions in a lite rock atmosphere. All I can say is that was BAD ADVICE.
25 Hammatt St, Ipswich, MA 01938