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Nov 4, 1999 11:48 PM

This evening at Christos-Hasapa Taverna

  • s

I went this evening with my wife and my parents visiting from Florida to Christos-Hasapa Taverna in Astoria per reccomendations I saw on this board. Had originally wanted hip italian (see thread on manhattan board) but thought a trip to Astoria would be fun for them... Wanted to let everyone know how it went. We made a reservation for 8pm, when we got there the place was pretty empty. I thought the atmosphere of the place was really nice, and decorated very warmly. The older man who greeted us when we walked in was very nice, but our waiter was not very nice at all. He came over to the table to ask us if we wanted a drink, and we started to ask him about the wines, and he just like disappeared into thin air...a real character to say the wife couldn't wait to get home to draw a caricature of him (she is an artist)...try to imagine this one....very Saturday Night Live...whatever you asked for he would sort of arch his back and stick his butt out, and have this very disturbed look on his face, where one hoped he wasn't going to spit on our that was really bizarre, and well not the most pleasant way to start a meal. It was kinda strange, because my wife, and my parents are super warm and talkative people, and waiters always love them...but we plowed forward hoping for the best. For the wine we chose a greek wine, a white Retsina which everyone liked except my wife who found it acidicly (is that a word?) bitter and musty tasting. We ordered a large greek salad...everyone liked it. It was very fresh, beautiful tomatoes, cucumbers, tasty olives, could have used some more feta, very nice light dressing...mixed greens with raddichio. Cost was a bit high considering it had little feta and no grape leaves. But at least it tasted fresh and very crispy. We ordered spinach pie and it was a bit soggy, nothing spectacular. By the way, my wife makes the best, and I mean the best spinach pie. Unbelievably light and absolutely no grease, and beautiful fluffy layers of phyllo, with fresh spinach and french feta I am bit spoiled when it comes to this particular dish...ok..sorry to digress... Back to the meal...Since my mother and my wife order their steak the same way they split the porterhouse for two which they ordered medium well- closer to medium for $42. I ordered the filet mignon for $17.95, which I ordered medium rare, and my father ordered the filet mignon and ordered it medium well. It comes with lemon roasted potatoes and french fries. The porterhouse arrived cooked fairly properly, although my wife had wished it was a bit more medium and less well. My fathers filet mignon looked more well than med well, and my filet which was supposed to be med rare was med well. Well I called the waiter over, and I said to him, "I am sorry, but I don't think this is med rare, and he says to me, "Cut into it some more, I do, and he can obviously see it's totally well done. Well needless to say I cannot stand to eat meat that isn't red to pink. So the waiter makes his annoyed look, and takes it back, and we wait for the replacement. In the meantime, my wife and my mother were enjoying the porterhouse, and my father said he liked his filet mignon...the lemon potatoes were the best thing so far, they were really delicious, and the french fries were perfect as well. The porterhouse was tender, but my wife was right it was cooked a bit too much. Back mr. friendly comes with my steak and he says cut into it, well this time it was basically raw...and I said please put it back just for a little bit more...well he loved that...he was just so unpleasant..I mean it was obvious someone was making bad mistakes in the kitchen...anyway it arrived a few minutes later, and luckily it was just right this time. Although by this time, my wife is sure they've probably sabotaged it in some way...but I ate it and thought it was delicious....We didn't stay for dessert because we went over to Kolonaki on Broadway..thought about trying Stamatis per Jim Leff's suggestions for dessert but we were tired, and had been to Kolanaki before with good results. Had a delicous apple pie dessert...really great, and my wife had a perfect cappacino, and we got an assortment of greek pastries, all were pretty good but I prefer takeout at Titan for the greek stuff...I would reccomend Christos, but I would definitely make yourself crytal clear about how you want your steak cooked, which I did...with unfortunately lousy results and alot of attitude...but it seems like if they get it cooked right, it's a good place..because steak prices were very reasonable and portions were fine.

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    1. re: Jim Leff

      Yeah Jim, my father was paying...the last of the big tippers, and tipped him 20% for the entertainment value..which he was instantly gratified with when the waiter came to pick up the check, he opened it and looked to see what his tip was. My father said he had never seen that one before! And he was doing it to all the tables, he would go to pick up the folder with the goods inside, and you would see his eyes go directly to the tip line, and watch his I said earlier..a real character! White haired, balding a bit, probably in his late 50's early 60's and oh yea a very arched back. Had a great dinner last night at Q, a thai bistro in Forest Hills...really love this ambiance, and the food is always right on.;..never been disapointed..and they couldn't be nicer.

      1. re: Steve

        I went last night with a friend - spur of the moment, no reservation. We got there about 7:00pm.

        The decor and ambience of the place is great- real homey with great detail. We had a beer at the little bar up front and by the time we finished, we had a table. Our waiter was a really nice guy - we were there for meat and beer, and he was there to deliver it.

        We started with the mixed cold appetizer plate, followed by the porterhouse for two. The mixed plate was perfect for two - just enough for the bread basket to scoop up, but not too much to ruin your dinner. The dishes were garlicky, smooth and tasty. If you like these, try Kazan on Queens Blvd by 63rd Drive - they have an awesome cold mixed appetizer plate there that rules!

        The Greek beer thay have, Athenian, was better than I expected. It tasted a little weak at first, but really grew on me.

        We ordered the poterhouse medium rare, and medium rare it came. It was tender, moist, with that beautiful earthy taste a good aged steak should have. The filet side was super-tender, and the entire thing was thick, yet simple to cut and chew. As was said before, a close runner-up to Lugers in quality, flavor and presentation. I WOULD NOT order any steak here past medium. In order to cook the inside to well or medium well, you will end up destroying the outer area of the meat. One trick you can do (with a filet) is to butterfly it, where you cut it to decrease the thickness and increase the surface area. But hey, if you want a serious steak at a steakhouse, stick with medium or less, or don't bother. It's kinda like the concept all-you-can-eat sushi or a low-fat meal at a German restaurant: You can find it, but why?

        We had the custardy-phyllo desert and greek coffee - both very sweet, and a nice closer to the meal.

        We ended up at another homey ethnic place afterwards - Zum Stammtisch - where we had a stein of Spaten Lager and a pair of cigars. When Joe the Bartender heard of our steak dinner, he demanded to know all the details so he could go to Christos too.

        This was about as close to a perfect dining night in Queens as you could have!

    2. Wow. Sounds like wayyy too much trouble.

      One thing -- next time your wife makes spinach pie, ask her to use Greek or Bulgarian feta (this if you like extra-sharp). Beats the French kind anytime.

      1. "we chose a greek wine, a white Retsina which everyone liked except my wife who found it acidicly (is that a word?) bitter and musty tasting."

        thats an almost perfect description of a corked wine!

        1 Reply
        1. re: howler
          Steven Stern

          Also a perfect description of the way retsina is _supposed_ to taste, no?

        2. Boy, sounds like an awful night. I've been a big booster of this restaurant on this board and I'm sorry if I'm the one who led you astray. My wife and I are going there tonight, and have eaten there maybe a dozen times without ever having an experience like yours. I'll report later if something untoward happens tonight.

          While I'm very surprised at the surly service and trouble-filled kitchen, I'm not surprised that steaks ordered medium well didn't come out quite right. Most steakhouses--especially the best ones--print a disclaimer on their menus warning against ordering steaks well or medium well (usually something to the effect of "we cannot be held responsible for steaks ordered etc.)." Can't explain exactly why...Alpha Hound, help??



          1 Reply
          1. re: Tom M

            Well, we had another very, very good meal at Christos last night. Started with the mussels in red wine sauce and a plate of dandelion greens (horta)--not our usual starters there but we wanted to try something new. Both were excellent, although I would suggest ordering the horta as a side with entrees rather than as an appetizer. Ordered the porterhouse for two medium rare and it was done perfectly--just the thinnest layer of grey at the perimeter blending into a sizable deep magenta center oval.

            Just one more thing about this place and then I'll leave it alone forever: my wife and I had our wedding there last April. The restaurant served our party of 25 a wide and bounteous array of appetizers, a choice of three entrees (shell steak, salmon, or chicken breast filet), desserts, and unlimited house wine--white, red, or retsina. Everything was done just right, the service was dead on, and the cost was just $35/person. That's why I will *always* speak highly of this place! BTW, they remembered us from our wedding and sent complimentary after-dinner drinks to our table--don't know what it was but it was a liqueur of some sort: cold, with a trace of honey, of delicious.

            I've posted way too many times about Christos so this will be it. My wife and I are moving to Durham NC so I won't be back there anytime soon anyway. We won't miss the overcrowded, overpriced mess this city is becoming, but we will definitely miss the good grub.



          2. Went back to Christos last night with my wife, mom & dad. We has a 5:15pm reservation. Sunday afternoon is one of my favorite times to patronize establishments I like - the pace is much more relaxed, the food is paid attention to more, you can chat up the staff about things, etc. I was quite surprised when we entered - the owner remembered me from a few weeks ago and treated us like long lost family! We started with the mixed cold appetizer plate - garlicky, smooth, chunky, delicious. This time we also tried the grilled octopus - it was tender, yet chewy, lightly basted in an oil & vingegar dressing with nice black grill marks all over it. The octopus was cut into bite-size pieces, and has a fragrant aroma from the spice mix which added to the nice char on the tentacles. Not as awe-inspiring as the piece we had the last time we went to Peryali, but very, very good. After that, it was another porterhouse for two, medium-rare. Christos gets high marks for consistency on this one - the steak was again nicely marbled, done perfectly, juicy, tender, and delicious. We also ordered the baby lamb chops for two. They come family-style, four chops per person. We had them done medium, and they too were cooked perfectly and were trimmed of all but a little fat so you could nibble the entire chop down to the rib bone. The last time here I loved the lemon potatoes, this time I found them too salty. For dessert: I apologize for not knowing the names, but we had the chocolate covered wheat-honey-nut roll and the wine-poached pear. I liked the pear alot - it was firm, crisp and savory (in a subtle sort of way). I did not try the chocolate rolls (nut allergy), but the plates were emptied without my assistance. I like their Greek coffee, but everyone else preferred the American version. Nice that the staff asks which you want to prevent any surprises. Verdict: This was the second meal at Christos, and I like it even more now. Did I mention about the new frosted mug that comes with every beer you order or that all of the waitstaff is super-friendly? Highly recommended!