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New in South Slope - Roots, Hanco's, Athena

cjd260 Jan 2, 2009 10:10 AM

Three new places:

- Roots (new coffee place at 5th Ave/18th-19th) at least looks intriguing from the post on Gowanus Lounge (http://www.gowanuslounge.com/2008/12/...


- Has Hanco's (banh mi / bubble tea at the old 7th Ave Tea Lounge spot) opened yet? Anyone been to the existing location?

- Finally, a new Greek place just opened at the always-dying-restaurant spot on 6th around 14th; it doesn't look that special from the outside, but the price point ($20ish entrees) is pretty ambitious, and I'd love to know if it's decent.

Anyone been to any of these yet?

  1. n
    notmyrealname Mar 5, 2009 03:29 PM

    I've been to Roots - thumbs up. Had a turkey, mozzarella and avocado panini. Was very good. Cost $6.75 and I think was the most expensive item on the menu. The owner was working when I was there - nice guy, lives in the neighborhood. All in all, a good experience. I'll definitely go back.

    15 Replies
    1. re: notmyrealname
      TBird Mar 7, 2009 08:13 AM

      athena is corkage friendly, so we have a group going mid week, hopefully i'll have something positive to report back.

      1. re: TBird
        pinchesm Mar 7, 2009 01:26 PM

        We went to Athena last week and it was really good. The decor is a little cheesy, but the food was superb and so the decor just added a little fun and whimsy. My partner had the lamb shank, which she said was amazing. I had the spreads and the lemon potatoes which were both really good. We had a dessert that we can't pronouce, but it was a custard wrapped in filo with honey. I would eat that every night if I could, and I'm not generally big on desserts. Overall, a really nice experience!

        1. re: TBird
          TBird Mar 12, 2009 09:04 AM

          well, i easily have something positive to report back. athenos is definately worthy. we split the octopus and the sausage app, and the majority of the table(of 5) had the osso buco. all were excellent. zero corkage. everyone was happy. Athenos will now be my new "go to" place. good job. :-)

          1. re: TBird
            cjd260 Mar 23, 2009 10:21 AM

            I've been remiss in not posting this earlier. We went to Athena the weekend before this last one and had an absolutely fabulous meal. The octopus app. was delicious - smoky but you could still clearly taste the octopus, just the right amount of chewiness vs. char. Fabulous shrimp saganaki that focused more on the shrimp that the cheese - it was smothered but not drowned (which has been the problem when we've ordered the same dish at Uncle Nick's in the past), and the sour tang of the cheese perfectly offset the sweetness of the shrimp. The horiatiki salad was probably a bit heavy on the feta, but was perfectly seasoned with oregano and vinegar and was the perfect way to start the meal. And utterly warm and inviting service, with the chef visiting our table more than once to make sure everything was okay and ask our advice on whether to extend the specials. My only regret is that my wife wasn't in the mood for grilled fish and so we missed out on trying (in my mind at least) the main test and selling point of any Greek restaurant. We'll certainly be back to fix that error, soon.

            1. re: cjd260
              parkslopemama Nov 13, 2009 04:48 PM

              I've been to Athena twice now, and both times have been great. When I was by myself, I had a lamb special that was out of this world (kicking myself for forgetting the name) and the sauteed dandelion greens. Second time I was with the kids, so we ordered "safer" stuff like the Cornish hen with lemon, agvolemono soup, Greek roasted potatoes with lemon (notice the emerging lemon theme) and a fried fish "comfort food" with a garlicky dip. I was very concerned that the place was so empty, though. I don't know if it's the odd location or what, but I don't see how they can keep going at this rate.... Also, they still don't have a liquor license. Any thoughts on why it's so empty?

              1. re: parkslopemama
                uwsgrazer Nov 15, 2009 09:18 AM

                I have no idea but I was thinking of trying Athena with some friends this weekend. Any idea how "empty" it might be on a Saturday night? We actually would like a more quiet and less packed place, but not if it's oddly so. Also, any details on the decor would be appreciated; I can't really tell from the still under construction website.

                1. re: uwsgrazer
                  cjd260 Nov 15, 2009 11:47 AM

                  Never been there on a Saturday night, but on an average night when we go, we're often one of only two or three parties in the restaurant; that said, there seemed to be a party there last night, and it was packed. The decor is also on the meh side - halfway between a nice diner and a real Greek restaurant. I say this only in the interests of full disclosure, because the food is really superb, the service couldn't be more friendly, and they're BYOB. Actually a very good place to go with friends notwithstanding the rather unconventional atmosphere.

                  1. re: cjd260
                    uwsgrazer Nov 15, 2009 05:20 PM

                    cjd260, thanks for the details and full disclosure. In the event we decide to go, I'll be sure to post.

                    1. re: uwsgrazer
                      uwsgrazer Nov 21, 2009 06:56 PM

                      We dined at Athena tonight. Overall, I would say the food was fine. Service was very accommodating and friendly, but not excessively so (a pet-peeve of mine). The very good service really made the difference.

                      We started with several appetizers. The big hit at the table was the special of Portuguese sardines (chose of pan-fried or grilled, I think - we chose the latter). Greek french fries were also good, as was the grilled octopus. Stuffed grape leaves were okay; one person didn't like the sauce on top. I ordered the lamb shank. Meat was tender, but I thought the dish could have used more seasoning. Adding salt helped (and I normally don't add salt to my food). Another person had the branzino. Waiter said he would love it but my friend said it was just okay - something about the skin being quite tough. Someone else ordered the moussaka. Again, "okay", just not so interesting or anything special.

                      Given a large party (35 people) were supposed to arrive at 8, we skipped dessert. Business seemed decent enough. One party of four was dining when we arrived. Several other groups arrived subsequently so between these diners and the big party, they should be generating decent revenue.

                    2. re: cjd260
                      cjd260 Nov 15, 2009 06:26 PM

                      OK, I actually want to follow up on / revise my earlier post. Writing about Athena gave me a yen for Greek, so we ended up at Athena this evening. A little busier than in the past - around half full, which is a good sign - and either the decor has gotten better or I've gotten more accustomed to the average Greek restaurant decor. Which is to say, it's not Estiatorio Milos, but it's perfectly fine, with a wonderfully cheesy (a good thing) faux house (with a yard-wide strip of red-tile "roof") over the bar. Not sure if that changes anything, but I felt like they deserved better than I represented them earlier today, even if I stand by my rec for the cuisine.

                      1. re: cjd260
                        uwsgrazer Nov 16, 2009 11:25 AM

                        Thanks, very helpful feedback. Sounds kind of cute, in a cheesy way, as you wrote. I plan to suggest Athena to my friends for an upcoming get-together. Love the reports of excellent food, nice service and, last but not least, BYOB! As for reports of slow business, maybe things are picking up for them. They actually said they have a party going on this Saturday evening. Have a feeling we might feel outnumbered, in that case.

                        1. re: cjd260
                          jen kalb Nov 16, 2009 01:02 PM

                          more info about the actual food they serve, rather than the decor would be helpful. what are the good dishes at Athena? do they have decent wine?

                          1. re: jen kalb
                            cjd260 Nov 18, 2009 06:38 AM

                            Food is classic Astoria Greek. None of it is spectacular but I've never had anything that wasn't good. My favorites: the spanakopita (perfect texture - just light enough, not soaked through, actually tastes like spinach), shrimp saganaki (which has been a special every time I've gone even though it's not on the official menu; comes in a tomato-based sauce, not drowned in cheese, great herbed flavor to the shrimp), and their grilled fish, which changes from day to day. It would hold its own in Astoria but wouldn't stand out there; for Park Slope, it's a uniquely good spot.

                            No idea about wines, as I've always brought my own.

                      2. re: uwsgrazer
                        parkslopemama Nov 15, 2009 03:32 PM

                        So, uwsgrazer, did you go? Do tell.

                        1. re: parkslopemama
                          TBird Jan 12, 2010 05:05 PM

                          this has been our go to wine dinner place as of late and it is staying solid. i even spent my latest bday there.

              2. k
                khc Mar 5, 2009 06:39 AM

                Athena (the Greek place) seems pretty good - we had the dips and they were garlicky and yummy!

                1 Reply
                1. re: khc
                  cjd260 Mar 5, 2009 07:26 AM

                  Thanks - this is what I was hoping to hear about. I'd love a good Greek option in the neighborhood, but the restaurant itself looks like a warmed-over diner and the location is just odd. But then, Uncle Nick's looks like a diner as well, so I should probably just bite the bullet and try it.

                2. j
                  Jack7676 Feb 18, 2009 07:04 PM

                  Hi all...Hanco's grand opening day is this sat Feb 21st. See you all there!

                  1. o
                    Offbalance Jan 3, 2009 01:24 PM

                    I walked past the Hanco's today - they're still doing construction!

                    10 Replies
                    1. re: Offbalance
                      faerienyc Feb 7, 2009 05:09 PM

                      Still not open as of today.

                      1. re: faerienyc
                        cjd260 Feb 7, 2009 06:42 PM

                        Yup, I was a bit hasty in my initial post - they put the banners up so long ago, I was sure that the restaurant would have opened shortly thereafter.

                        1. re: cjd260
                          megan Feb 8, 2009 06:19 AM

                          I've peeked in through the side windows, and it's looking good. Hopefully within a few weeks - I want my banh mi! :)

                          1. re: megan
                            parkslopemama Feb 15, 2009 06:19 AM

                            The Hanco's on Bergen (near Smith) has tasty sandwiches, but the service is maddeningly slow. It takes them, like, 20 minutes to assemble one sandwich. God forbid if there is a handful of people waiting for take-out sandwiches, You'll stand there and stand there and stand there, waiting forever. So, if I'm in that neighborhood, I'd rather just go Nicky's nearby.

                            Having said that, I'm glad that bahn mi sandwiches are coming to Park Sope, and I fervently hope that they can get their service act together!

                            1. re: parkslopemama
                              kabny Mar 5, 2009 06:48 AM

                              The new Hanco's has the same problem with service - I went last week and it was very, very slow, with a bunch of us waiting for quite a while for a sandwich. That said, it was very good, and certainly a very welcome addition to the neighborhood.

                              1. re: parkslopemama
                                cjd260 Mar 5, 2009 07:25 AM

                                I've now made it to Hanco's a couple of times. To add some info to my own post: I've found the timing really depends on when you go. We got sandwiches there the Tuesday night after it opened, at about 7 p.m., and waited maybe 5 minutes - and they apologized to us for the delay in getting us our food (overcompensating, perhaps?). But we also went there last Saturday afternoon around 1ish, and waited 45 minutes - unfortunately we'd already paid and my wife felt uncomfortable asking for her money back, or we would have walked out and stopped in Chinatown instead.

                                The sandwiches are good, though (even if the pearl milk tea is a bit shaky for this ex-Californian); it's a great addition to the neighborhood if you hit them at the right time.

                                1. re: cjd260
                                  cjd260 Mar 7, 2009 02:17 PM

                                  ...And today the wait (1pm lunch on a Saturday) was 10 minutes. So they seem to have gotten their act together.

                                  Plus, they dropped their sandwiches $1 to $6.50. So thumbs up until further notice.

                                  1. re: cjd260
                                    aravenel Mar 10, 2009 02:00 PM

                                    Thank god, it was highway robbery at the previous prices. That's still expensive for Banh Mi, but it's heading in the right direction. I love Banh Mi, and it's nice to have in the neighborhood, but I just can't see how they justified those prices.

                                    1. re: aravenel
                                      Peter Cuce Mar 10, 2009 03:09 PM

                                      I'm sure the rent there is prohibitive, probably enough to justify the sandwich price by itself. Unfortunately the banh mi is pretty poor. I tried it today and doubt I'll repeat the experience often, maybe occasionally for convenience sake. I'd rather hop on the train and make the 20 minute journey to Ba Xuyen.

                                      1. re: Peter Cuce
                                        Cocido Mar 14, 2009 05:52 PM

                                        I went there at 6 on a Friday; did not take long, and I rocked the "classic" to go (pate, ground pork, ham, daikon, cuke?, carrot, mayo, butter) - it was excellent, though at $6.50, it's more than the competition...

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