Aegean Cove Astoria Rocks!
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...
I have to agree with your review having had dinner here last night with my husband. It is a pretty restaurant with excellent service and food. It's off the beaten track and easy to park which is a definite plus in Astoria. Tables are spaced nicely and the restaurant is bright and it's a pleasure to read your menu without a flashlight as with most restaurants. We both enjoyed our Greek wine and our appetizers of crab cake and seafood croquettes. My husband had the pasta with shellfish and I had the baby lamb chops. The yogurt dessert was delicious and a nice added touch. All in all a nice dining experience. There were large parties which made the restaurant pretty noisy on a Saturday night, would try again next year when we can sit upstairs and dine upstairs.
FYI -- there are some excellent restaurants in Astoria worth your trip over the bridge. Some of our favorites are: Trattoria L'Incontro (our favorite Italian - make reservations 2 weeks in advance); Agnanti, Mezzo Mezzo, Philoxenia and Cavo (all Greek). Try Artopolis Bakery and Mediterranean Foods on 31st Street for some great dips and bread.
There are always vegetarian restaurants associated with Greek cuisine -- lots of dips, soup, fava beans, vegetable croquettes, etc. Other than a vegetarian restaurant it's the best place for you to have a selection to choose from. The prices are moderate unless you order a whole fish which just say on the menu "Market Price", those would probably be in the $30-35 range I assume. If you order fish or pasta it would be around $20-25, the same as every other restaurant. Food has gone up about 20% this year and this spills over to the restaurant world as you know.
I ended up at Aegean Cove last night (should have stuck to my instincts and tried Philoxenia) and it was a truly unappetizing and bizarre experience. The server was trying way too hard (madame, sir, presenting the menu with some weird "zoro-esque" bow). The first couple dishes were tasty, in particular a good Greek salad and great beets.
But then a dish appeared that we didn't order, so it was taken away. Then another dish appeared that was the wrong order, it took the 5 minutes to get the server to tell him (we were 1 of 3 tables in the place), then it took him 5 minutes to work it out with the manager. Finally they returned and said that we could keep this shrimp entree (it was supposed to be an app) and that they would only charge us the app price. Problem was, after passing the plate around for 10 minutes and bringing it to the kitcehn the food was now cold, only worsening the overcooked shrimp.
Finally, when the grilled fish came out it tasted incredibly fishy and was gray. When we mentioned this to the manager he said it was supposed to smell like that, and that anyway "that fish is meant to be fried". A) it was definitely not fresh B) if the fish is meant to be fried why offer it grilled on the menu?
Overall experience was not good at all. The people that worked there hovered around the table making us all feel very uncomfortable. And another weird thing, I waited at least 5 minutes for the bathroom. Finally, it was the male manager that exited the woman's bathroom and then when he saw me ran back in to "make sure he flushed". I can't really recommend this place to anyone. Truly bizarre.
I wish we had an experience more like yours. The manager/host was going up to every person and saying "alexia" (I forget the actual word), "that's how you say bon appetite in Greek". But he did it multiple times per table. Such awkwardness... None of the laid back neighborhood-ness that you found. Instead, so weird false pretense.
I ate here this evening with a large family group and was very, very happy with the experience.
The service was solid, attentive and responsive. The appetizers (salad, dips, Greek fries, grilled pita with hummus, etc.) were fresh, tasty and well presented. The entrees were plentiful and accompanied by a few tasty items suitable for vegetarians (like myself and my husband, the only two veg's at our table of about 20): rice mixed with spinach, lemon potatoes, etc. I was disappointed that they did not have spinach pie anywhere on their menu, but the bounty of other options more than made up for that. Our meal was paired perfectly with a "sustainable" California cab (Fetzer), which was light and easy.
Dessert consisted of platters with assorted Greek pastries, with a mountain of yogurt (topped with honey and walnuts) in the center, and a surprise offering of loukoumades ("honey balls") with a sea of fresh fig paste in the center.
All in all, a delicious and pleasant experience with the large Greek side of my husband's family, and I was very pleased with the vegetarian options, and specifically how fresh and flavorful everything tasted. The interior is nice, with a lot of dark wood and earthy overtones. When we first arrived, we thought we might be seated upstairs, which was a nice open area (I also noticed an outdoor dining area, which might be nice in warmer weather), but we eventually were seated on the main/floor level. I was almost surprised at how packed this place was on a Sunday night, given the current economy and price range of their menu, but it makes sense given how good the entire experience was. I would definitely go back.