So, I caught a segment on the noon CBS news hyping this Greek eatery. The food looked pretty good, so despite the fact that I live in Hoboken and knew the schlep to Queens would not be fun, we went on Saturday night. The commute was worse than I anticipated, but it turned out to be worth it. This neighborhood place hits on all three aspects: food, service and they-make-you-feel-like-part-of-the-family ambience.
For starters we had the Manouri cheese, beefsteak tomatoes, EVOO & balsamic salad. Manouri cheese is a goat's milk (80%) and sheep's milk (20%) cheese. (the cheese was explained to me by the owner who was paying close attention to what was going on in the room and spending time chatting with all of us). Very good and not as harsh as feta. The tomatoes actually tasted like tomatoes (which in mid September, they should). Very good. Then had the grilled octopus with capers, red pepper, onion in a vinegarette. Excellent, although the wife doesn't care for octopus. Oh, we had a Greek Chardonnay that was pretty reasonable in price ($35) and very good.
For mains, she had grilled shrimp with lemon potatoes and horta (in this case dandelion greens) and I had the baked sea bass in a tomato and white-wine sauce. Both were great. At this point we were totally stuffed and no way could do dessert, so I just ordered an espresso. But, they brought a gratis dessert anyway - wasn't sure what it was, but it was delicious. Turned out to be Greek yogurt with walnuts and sour cherries drizzled with a litlle honey. Wow, it was fantastic.
BTW, the service was perfect, and very friendly. Probably the best thing about this place (in addition to the food and service) was the feeling/vibe you get from the place. It is absolutely a neighborhood place, with a lot of regulars cheek-kissing and hugging at the bar. Very laid back and relaxing. The onwer is a gem; explaining food, stopping by to make sure everything was OK.
Really wish this place was in my neck of the woods. But, despite the really awful trip to get there, and the plethora of great places that are much closer to us, we will probably return. Envy for those who live in Astoria...