Made my way to Mars in Astoria, they were having $2 oyster special. Half the varieties were sold out, had the Rocky Shore and Blue Points. Both were shucked well and fresh tasting, but unfortunately, they were also gritty.
Had the grilled calamari salad, fried spearing, bekri meze, fish and chips.
Grilled calamari salad was well prepared, calamari was tender, vinaigrette was balanced and delicious.
Fried spearing although nicely crisp, lacked flavor and unfortunately the aioli could have saved it but was also flavorless. Also, the portion size was quite small. The aioli had no garlic flavor to speak of, it was like dipping the spearing into lemony mayo. I had excellent fried spearing at Loukoumi and the spearing at Mars was a disappointment.
Bekri meze is an appetizer of stewed pork, that had some nice flavor but ultimately is forgettable, with presentation to match. It should be served with pita, some vegetable or some bread, something to add to or contrast with the small dish of brown pork pieces.
Fish and chips had a phenomenal crust, great flavor, crispy, the fish itself might have been slightly undercooked ( a little too mushy vs. flakey), lovely presentation, but the portion size was delicate (maybe 3-4 oz of fish and less than a handful of french fries). The french fries were very well prepared. At $19 though, I would rather go to Chip Shop.
The calamari salad was the highlight, followed by the fish and chips. The kitchen definitely can prepare some delicious food, but at their prices, I expected portions to be bigger and fewer flaws of execution like the tasteless aioli and gritty oysters. I'm going to go back and try some other dishes, more oysters, hopefully the grit was an aberration.