25 Middle Neck Road Great Neck, NY 516-305-4958
Casual restaurant serving upscale Greek food.Hours: Daily: noon-10 p.m. Reservations: Recommended Credit cards: Accepted Accessibility: Yes Notable dishes: Whole grilled fish, grilled octopus, assorted spreads.
Greek classics with modern accents turn first-timers into regulars at Ethos.The sleek, stylish new spot offers all the familiar stuff, but makes plenty of lively side trips, too. It's immediately one of the top Greek restaurants on Long Island -- a holiday present, handsomely wrapped.
Ethos is the offspring of like-named eateries in Astoria and Manhattan. This branch has a more relaxed mood and fine service. More important, the food is very good. You'll certainly know it's fresh. The whole fish on ice curl, tails up as if to salute the kitchen. They're pointing the way to go, too.
But start with the house's savory spreads: tangy taramasalata, or roe whipped with lemon and olive oil; melitzanosalata, a soothing combo of baby eggplant, garlic, herbs, lemon and oil; revithosalata, a spin on hummus; and skordalia, a mix of potatoes and garlic. Skordalia complements an opener of roasted and marinated beets. Triangles of barrel-aged feta sprinkled with herbs open the appetite, too.
Charcoal-grilled octopus arrives smoky and tender, with some zip from red vinegar. The grilled loukaniko sausage, however, is short on the orange zest and herbs; and the baked lima beans overdose on dill.
You're better off with the crisp spanakopita, loaded with spinach and feta; or the pan-fried combo of zucchini and eggplant, ready for its garlicky dip. Add an order of Kalamata olives, and you're set.
The essential main course is whole fish, charcoal-grilled and drizzled with an herbaceous olive oil-and-lemon dressing. Especially fine are fagri, or pink snapper; orata, a sea bass; and branzino. They're plump, meaty, moist and sold by the pound. An alternative is barbounia, a quartet of whole fried red mullets -- slightly sweet, very good.
Center-cut swordfish competes favorably with these swimmers. But grilled shrimp are a bit overcooked. And a skewer of shrimp, swordfish and scallops suffers the same result.
You can skip the kebab of marinated lamb, which turns chewy, in favor of the juicy loin lamb chops; avoid the lamb baked with orzo, tomatoes and feta, but savor a husky version of moussaka under a cloudlet of bÃ©chamel sauce.
Salads are recommended at any point. The union of grilled fennel, sun-dried tomatoes, olives, goat cheese and greens stands out, along with the alliance of feta and tomatoes, and another of dried cranberries, walnuts, goat cheese and greens. The basic Greek salad is anything but.
The desserts include a respectable walnut cake; galataboureko, the sweet, phyllo-wrapped custard; and fresh fruit.
During recent visits, Ethos awaited its license to serve wine or liquor. But the Greek coffee is strong enough to keep you awake through New Year's.
Reviewed by Peter M. Gianotti, 12/23/07.