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Thirsty Koala --- Happily 'Down Under' in Astoria

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The Ditmars Blvd strip in Astoria, like its sister neighborhood of 30th Avenue a few blocks away, has seen a welcome infusion of good quality dining options over the past 18 months or so. (It has always had Trattoria L'Incontro and Taverna Kyklades, but the options are wider and a bit more contemporary now -- places like Watawa, Hinomaru, etc.) Over Christmas, the neighborhood became home to the Tasty Koala to the great delight of area residents who watched it take shape slowly over the past two months.

I gave it a couple of weeks to gestate, and finally tried it a couple of nights ago. I am happy to report that I think this bold and unusual place will be with us for a long time. Crowds are noticealy building, and the place got a nice little write-up in the Wall Street Journal, I noticed, last week.

How to describe it? It's an Aussie-themed bistro offering Australianish dishes with amusing (and a bit confusing) Aussie names, but with noticeable Mediterranean influences. (Australia has a huge Greek population, and Melbourne has a much larger Greek community than Astoria these days. One of the owners hails from down under, I believe).

I had an amazing pulled pork on ciabatta sandwich, while my friend had the restaurants trademark "Lamb lollies" -- exquisite lamb chops. We also had a superb vegan chili, and some of the best moussaka I have ever had. Liquor is coming soon, I believe, but the place has a spectacular coffee bar in it. I know I will be visting often. The desserts looked great, but we didn't have room.

The space itself is bright and cheerful, and the staff was professional, sunny and upbeat and extremely charged up about their new endeavor.

I encourage other chowhounders to try what I feel is an awesome addition to the Astoria scene, and sample one of the few "aussie" experiences in the New York area.

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