Kefi: ‘profound passion’ in the Old City

Here’s the sign you are at the right place for fantastic Greek fun! My friend Dawn Ford with her husband, Richard, left, and my husband, Alan Carmichael.

We lived in Farragut a couple of decades ago, fortunately at the same time that one of my all-time favorite restaurants was open there: Kalamata Kitchen. It was a fabulous Greek restaurant operated by Lori and Jim Klonaris. You may recognize those names because they are the couple behind the very popular Cafe Four on Market Square.

Well, after more than 10 years away from Mediterranean cuisine, the Klonarises are back in a big way. They recently opened Kefi, a Greek restaurant at 120 Jackson Ave., in the Old City. I’m here to tell you, it is terrific!

The menu says that the word “kefi” means “profound passion.” And by that, Jim Klonaris says, it means a passion for, not only great food and drinks, but also for the camaraderie that dining together brings.

One unique feature of Kefi is its emphasis on extraordinary craft cocktails — meticulously prepared every day in big batches and served on tap, ensuring not only speed, but consistency. We tried three of them and can honestly say we’ve never had anything exactly like them.

Our first visit was last weekend. My strong recommendation to you if you plan to go is to make a reservation. The place was packed. We tried to change our reservation from four people to six and were not able to do it. Kefi is that popular. (And, yes, they do have saganaki — flaming cheese!)

The interior of Kefi is beautiful. This photo was taken early in the evening just before the crowd arrived.

I love the artichoke light fixtures in the booths.

We started our experience with one of our favorite Greek delicacies: saganaki!


Here it is served. Yum-yum.

We saw our friend Ben Bentley and his wife, Kate, in great seats at the bar. He is the head of Knoxville’s Community Development Corporation.

We also ordered a sampler of three spreads: top: traditional hummus; center: spicy feta (feta, chili peppers and herbs); bottom: muhammara (red pepper, walnut and pomegranate molasses).

You get a delicious assortment of bread on which to spread the spreads.

We saw our friend Diana Condon, left, with her buddy, Chris Chilian.

Dawn and I split an order of Garides: large shrimp in garlic-butter sauce with smoky tomato and feta on grilled country bread. (This was my favorite bite of the night.)

Richard loved his pork souvlaki.

And Alan loved his chicken souvlaki.

We got some Gigantes Plaki for the table: giant beans, slow roasted with tomato and onions.

And some Greek wine, of course.

We noticed our friends Jerry and Susan Becker, left, and Marlene and Jack O’Hanlon at a nearby table. They were having a blast!

We did not think we would have room for dessert. But, guess what! These are Loukoumades: Greek fried dough puffs with honey, walnuts and cinnamon. Holy cow!

And then, as if we had not consumed enough, as another after dinner treat, Dawn and I shared a sampling of three craft cocktails: a fig smash, left; a crocus, center; and one called “penicillin!” We loved them all.

Penicillin is Monkey Shoulder, fresh lemon juice, honey-ginger simple syrup, and tincture of 10-year-old Laphroaig. Monkey Shoulder is a blended scotch. Laphroiag is a single-malt scotch. Wow. It packed a wallop.

Owner Jim Klonaris stopped by. We hope we didn’t embarrass him too much by all the raving we did about how much we love his new eatery!

Only one thing surprised us. There is no Greek salad on the menu. We think that would be a popular addition. Also note that, despite what previously was published on the Kefi website, there is no Sunday brunch. Klonaris said they tried it for two weeks, but it just proved to be too much for the staff to handle. They are concentrating on dinners only.

So, by all means, go for dinner!


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4 Responses to Kefi: ‘profound passion’ in the Old City

  1. Kreis, on November 23rd, 2018 at 6:09 pm said:

    I can’t wait to go….

  2. Cynthia Moxley, on November 23rd, 2018 at 11:00 pm said:

    Kreis: I think you would like. Let me know!

  3. Jackie Cantrell, on November 24th, 2018 at 9:10 pm said:

    Haven’t seen Marlene in sooo long. Glad to see her on your post, Cynthia.

  4. Cynthia Moxley, on November 25th, 2018 at 8:06 pm said:

    Jackie: She’s a fun one!

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