Jim's meal at Stamatis
What great news to learn that some fine Greek food is once again available. Gad how we took for granted the several Tavernas and places serving lamb shanks covered with horta avgolemono . . . all gone, until now. . . and galaktobureko . . . to hell with cholesterol!
Do they use cinnamon on their pastas and orzo?
Allan--maybe I was unclear...Stamatis has been in continous operation since The Old Days, and has been good all along. I raved about it in my book and in an article written a few years ago (read it below...click on the link at bottom to go to the second part) lamenting the dearth of decent Greek food other than at this place.
The big news is that they're now making dessert. And it's AWESOME.
re: Jim Leff
I must have been at Stamatis on an off night. I went with friends who live in the neighborhood and swear by the place. The fish (porgy) was good (not great), the bread and spreads were excellent, but everything else was mediocre. The vegetables were incredibly oily and overcooked (as was the fish) and the other appetizers were not memorable (literally - I don't remember what they were). But such praise coming from Jim as well as Alan Richman (and the insistence of my friends) has caused me to give it another shot.
Regarding parking and driving to Stamatis - unless you are familiar with the area, be prepared to get temporarily lost. Maybe I'm giving away my Manhattan roots, but the lay-out of the avenues and streets in Astoria confused the hell out of me. So give yourself a little extra time to get oriented.
Sorry about your bad experience, Alex. But no restaurant is 100% consistent. For what it's worth, I've had off nights at Stamatis myself. As far as overcooked vegetables...al dente vegetables are not part of the Greek ethos.
Don't get me wrong... this is NOT a great restaurant. But right now it's the ONLY one serving the serious stuff. Eight years ago, Stamatis was second-rate, but the best places from that era are either downhill or closed (TEN years ago, when still located in the social club on the corner, Stamatis was sensational...but that chef is long dead, r.i.p.)
"the lay-out of the avenues and streets in Astoria confused the hell out of me"
yeah, but Stamatis is within site of the all-orienting N train el.
anyway, I LIKE getting lost in new nabes. Adds to the mystery. And I tend to find most of my hidden treasures when lost.
Speaking of Alan Richman, I'd heard he seconded my unpopular assertion that Stamatis was the only good place left for Greek in Astoria, but that in that same article he also sort of dissed the cuisine as a whole (seems uncharacteristic of him...personally, I believe there are no great or bad cuisines, just great or bad chefs). Any idea when/where this article came out? I'd like to see it.
re: Jim Leff
The article is in this month's GQ. He does take a jab at Greek cuisine in general. But he is highly complimentary of Stamatis - calling his many meals there almost uniformly excellent and much better and more consistent than the other Astoria Greek restaurants that he visited. He also writes about (I don't want to say reviewed because the commentary is not that extensive)Elias' Corner, Xenon and a few others. I think the article will be very interesting to all Chowhounds. It seems to me to be a departure from many such glossy magazine articles, where only the very hot spots get reviewed - Paris, Montreal, Napa Valley. As always, Richman's article is full of good and reliable/honest info. and a pleasure to read.