Thursday, March 6, 2008

Feild Trip: Astoria

As the snow melted last weekend J and I decided to take a field trip to Queens.

Friday, after hiking around through the snow for the better part of the day (see post 'Winter...' below) I picked J up at work and headed off to dinner. Since J and I keep such different schedules, I knew J would not be up for a mellow dinner in the neighborhood or take-out at a friend’s house. So, we decided to do what we’ve been meaning to do for the past 2 years in this city….experience the Greek food in Astoria. Really, who hasn’t heard about the amazing Indian food in the East Village, the fabulous Pizza in Brooklyn, or the incredible Greek food in Astoria?

An amazing woman I had the joy of working with last year grew up in Queens and recommended her local favorite on Ditmars Ave., Aganti. I remember my friend mentioning it’s close proximity to the subway station, and didn’t second guess heading out there on a snowy night with tired legs. After a half-mile stroll from the subway station, searching for the restaurant I reconsidered my decision. But, J pushed on and we found the cozy, brick-walled eatery on the comer of 19th and Ditmars.

After a 20-minte wait, in which our pain was eased with a complimentary glass of wine we were seated among the Greek movie stars hanging from the walls. We were happily stunned when they seated us (on a busy Friday night) at a 4-top in a cozy corner of the restaurant. It’s funny to get used to being cramped but apparently I’ve grown comfortable eating off the lap of the stranger next to me.

The food was AMAZING and the prices were somewhere around what I’d expect in Philly (ok, really anywhere outside of Manhattan). Their Tzatziki holds the key to the perfect amount of dill and cumber citrus to the bitterness of Greek yogurt. The Moussaka, which I like to order as my measure of authenticity, certainly passed the test. And the Greek salad was the closest to the one I had in Athens that I’ve been working to recreate for 6 years. The sausage and mushroom phyllo pockets were fairly standard but I can’t wait to come back in the summer and try some of their seafood dishes.

The only disappointment was the service, which can ruin any dining experience. We were seated at the same time as another couple, which I later decided must have been Greek royalty. The two waiters and three busboys stopped by their table 5 times before they asked us if we’d like tap or bottled water. Sadly, half of our meal was spent trying to get a waiter’s attention without being rude (I suggested throwing forks but J protested) and took away from our amazing meal.

After our tummies were full of Greek goodies we headed out in search of a local bar to grab a drink. As we neared the subway station (N, Ditmars) J spotted a dark looking bar with a Guinness sign dangling in front of its sturdy wooden door. We entered the long bar around 10:30 and were met with a few unusual stares but thought nothing of it and took a seat at the bar. As the bar began to fill up we noticed the unique clientele was, from young women with bleach blond hair and TIGHT short dresses to older gentleman who spoke in whispered tones with heavy Greek accents. After 3 drinks we concluded that we must have stumbled into a Greek mafia bar and soaked in the experience.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a great place to eat. I'm almost as jealous as you must be for not being able to get authentic tex-mex!

- S