Thursday, July 1, 2010

My Big, Fat, Greek Dinner

Tavernas Kyclades is Native Creative Concierge™ approved.

I recently went back to Astoria for dinner before an erotic event. We all know the relationship between food and the sensual and my relationship to both. As usual, Ardian Skenderi, Owner and Chef of Taverna Kyclades, made the rounds throughout the dining room and I was able to receive his contact info so I could send him this review I wrote about previous trips I had made to Taverna Kyclades.

The following was written in 2008. It is also posted on my FoodBuzz profile page.

My Big, Fat, Greek Dinner

Astoria’s Greek population is the largest in New York City, so it should come as no surprise that Greek restaurants can be found quite readily in that neighborhood. However, there is one restaurant that stands out. Taverna Kyclades, located on Ditmars Blvd “is the best Greek restaurant in the city,” my Italian suitor at the time, told me. “Sure it is,” I thought. I figured he was just trying to impress me and he did.

On my many trips there, a line has always been outside – and rightfully so. The traditional Greek and Mediterranean menu is mouthwatering. The family style atmosphere and friendly staff make the wait bearable. If you want to be seated promptly, don’t come between the hours of 7 and 9 pm. An estimated half hour wait can easily stretch to an hour or more. The kitchen closes at 11:30pm, depending on the crowd. Waiting guests are given glasses of red or white wine (under aged diners sip cola or iced tea).

On one visit this past summer, we started with the Greek salad, consisting of romaine lettuce, tomatoes, red onions, olives, and feta cheese, drizzled with oil and vinegar dressing. That and their fresh-from-the-oven bread are true appetizers. The Stuffed Clams with Crabmeat were grilled just right. The selection was very fresh, as I could “taste the sea.” Originally, I wanted to order the Fried Calamari again, but they were already sold out on Sunday afternoon. Their calamari is by far their most popular menu item, but I have yet to find a menu choice that isn’t palette-pleasing.

Endless orders of whole Red Snapper, Grilled Shrimp and Fried Baby Shark were paraded by the waiting diners on their way to their tables. Although Taverna Kyclades is touted as a Seafood Restaurant, they have many options “From The Land” on their menu ranging from lamb, veal, pork and quail. All of their grilled meat is seasoned with what seems to be only salt and pepper, allowing the true flavor of the meat to come through. “This must be how the Greek gods ate,” we thought as we perused our spread of clams, salad, bread, quail, pork, fried potatoes and rice and wine. The vegetable stand next door does take away from the d├ęcor if you’re dining outside, but you can just close your eyes and envision you’re seated on a mountainside in Greece.

Before you can blink, dessert is served, once your many plates are cleared. And you don’t have to order it. Galaktoboureko (a traditional Greek custard dessert) is served to all the diners. Galaktoboureko, made with filo dough, egg, vanilla, semolina and cinnamon is the perfect closer for this Greek experience.

As I exited the restaurant, the hostess addressed me by name and thanked me for my patience. I was also bid “Good Night” by the chef, who throughout the evening, made his rounds through out the dining room and sidewalk “waiting room.

33-07 Ditmars Blvd
Astoria, NY 11105

Tavernas Kyclades is Native Creative Concierge™ approved.

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