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the second stamatis

Zora Nov 1, 1999 12:09 PM

I ate there last week (the one on broadway), and I wasn't all that impressed. We didn't have any super-duper meats or anything, but the gigantes were cooked with green peppers in the sauce, the taramosalata was as heavy as tile grout, and our seafood pasta had to be sent back for thorough reheating. Tzatziki was up there with the best I've had, though. Service was extremely nice, and they gave us free, super-delicious dessert (to make up for the cold pasta, I suppose). Still, for the money, we should have just kept walking to Uncle George's and had guaranteed tasty, melt-in-your-mouth meaty gigantes (thurs. night special).

  1. j
    Jim Leff Nov 1, 1999 01:31 PM

    Cold food was a service problem...as I said in my rundown, they're severely understaffed. I'd expect LOTS of similar gaffes till they work this out.

    All the dips are heavy. They mean it that way. Dips in Astoria have gotten lighter and lighter over the years, but that's a gesture toward tourists and the more stylish, less old-world second generation Greek kids. The dips (and cooking in general) are "lite" in direct proportion to the amount of neon in the window of the new places.

    Not sure what you mean by "gigantes" (can you describe 'em? I'm mystified!), but FWIW I detest Uncle George's. Comparing that place and Stamatis is like comparing Chi-Chi's and La Espiga...they do quick cheap sloppy diner stuff. Roast meats can be ok, but there's no flair or care in anything they make, IMO


    13 Replies
    1. re: Jim Leff
      MU Nov 1, 1999 02:13 PM

      Gigantes are inch-long fava beans.

      1. re: MU
        Zora Nov 1, 1999 03:32 PM

        yeah, i agree uncle george's is sub-par, but the aforementioned gigantes are ever so tasty...they're big ol' lima beans, properly cooked in a meaty (tasting--no actual chunks) tomato sauce. i've had them more fresh vegetable-y, too, with dill, but never ever with green peppers--sort of an overpowering, generic gumbo flavor was the result.

        i don't think heavy=authentic, and light=teenybopper-on-a-diet. light doesn't have to mean 'lite.' i had perfectly fluffy dips at a friend's grandmother's in athens. (but then, it was really the grandmother dictating, while the romanian maid did the work, so maybe some interpretation crept in there...)

        to stamatis' credit, their portions are enormous...

        1. re: Zora
          Allan Evans Nov 2, 1999 08:03 AM

          Many Greek grocers have canned imported gigantes. They are suspiciously similar to those in Uncle George's. Better to make it at home, and from scratch.

          1. re: Allan Evans
            Jim Leff Nov 2, 1999 09:30 AM

            "Many Greek grocers have canned imported gigantes. They are suspiciously similar to those in Uncle George's."


            Imagine all the time and effort the canners spent in trying to duplicate Uncle George's recipes!

      2. re: Jim Leff
        fred t. Nov 1, 1999 03:34 PM

        i'm with you on "uncle george's"....phtooey!

        if he were my uncle we'd be estranged!

        1. re: fred t.
          Gary Cheong Nov 1, 1999 04:54 PM

          You are way too funny Fred!! That's the funniest thing I've heard all day. thanks.

          1. re: Gary Cheong
            fred t. Nov 1, 1999 07:46 PM

            laughter is good (there's not enough!), glad to make your day!

            but seriously, i actually get vitiolic when i think of "uncle george's". to me it deserves a special place in culinary hell (a potential tenth circle?). i've had three meals there (why? it's gotta be a moth and flame thing), one was an order to go, and each time was a disaster. just remembering it gives me agita. i mean how can you manage to utterly ruin a whole chicken on a rotisserie? (i don't know, ask uncle george).

            and still the place is absolutely mobbed!

            ya gotta hand it to p.t. barnum-"nobody ever went broke underestimating the taste of the american public".

            take care.

            1. re: fred t.
              Gary Cheong Nov 2, 1999 01:09 AM

              > ya gotta hand it to p.t. barnum-"nobody ever went
              > broke underestimating the taste of the american
              > public".

              Very true. Try not to think about it any more - not worth the agita.

              1. re: Gary Cheong
                Tom Armitage Nov 2, 1999 10:31 AM

                For the record, I believe the quote came from H.L. Mencken, not P.T. Barnum. Picky, picky.

                1. re: Tom Armitage
                  Rachel Perlow Nov 2, 1999 12:37 PM

                  PT Barnum was famous for saying "there's a sucker born every minute." Still appropriate, no?

                  1. re: Tom Armitage
                    fred t. Nov 2, 1999 01:03 PM

                    "literary quotes for a thousand alex"!

                    i believe you're right. and i should have known 'cause i think mencken's the "man". my favorite:

                    describing the american people as "the most timorous, sniveling, poltroonish, ignominious mob of serfs and goose-steppers ever gathered under one flag in christendom since the end of the middle ages". ouch!

                    the connection to food?.....sounds like some of the crowds i've seen at trendoid restaurants.

                    take care.

                    1. re: Tom Armitage
                      Dave Feldman Nov 3, 1999 02:10 AM

                      H.L. Mencken it is:

                      "No one in this world, so far as I know, has ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the great masses of the plain people."

                      Not quite as mellifluous, but this is the original quote, as per Bartlett's.

            2. re: Jim Leff
              Barbara S Nov 3, 1999 02:24 PM

              Aren't gigantes those big broad beans, sometimes as large as half dollars, cooked in a tomato sauce? I've had them (in different places) hot and cold. Which version would be considered traditional? Not that it matters as I've enjoyed them both ways, I'm merely curious.

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