Sunday, February 15, 2009

A "Vonderful" Vesta Valentine's

Last night's Valentine's Day dinner at Vesta was a smash hit. I know that I've been giving Vesta lots of praise, but it's for a good reason--they serve phenomenal food in a lovely setting, and boast good prices too. Dan and I attended the 7:00pm Valentine's Day seating, which was just the perfect way to start the night. Below is a synopsis of our festive dishes:

Oysters Three Ways - Though this starter was sophisticated and delicate, it was my least favorite part of the meal. The three techniques in which the oysters were presented included shucked with orange flavor, fried and wrapped in an endive cup, and a shooter with limoncello, chili, horseradish and tarragon. Out of the three, I preferred the fried one because it contained simple yet innovative flavors--the endive wrap was a nice surprise and provided a refreshing crunch. I secretly wished that my trio was made entirely of fried oysters.

Hudson Penne - Dan ordered this as his app and it was wonderful. The pasta was cooked perfectly and slightly al-dente, which did not go unnoticed. I appreciated that it wasn't drenched in red sauce and instead incorporated an array of fresh ingredients such as fennel, basil, radicchio and ricotta salata cheese. The veggies added nice earthiness while the ricotta salata brought forth a touch of heartiness and a jolt of salt.

Imported Burrata Mozzarella - This was an extra appetizer, which we couldn't refuse. It was my favorite starter and included a round of creamy fresh mozzarella cheese, sprinkled with dark sea salt and a side of toasty bread and cherry tomato, olive and basil salad. Everything about the dish was superb and I especially loved how soft and luxurious the mozzarella was--it had such a gentle flavor that when paired with the acidy side salad and the toast, it made your tastebuds dance.

Braised Lamb Shank - Dan and I both chose this entree and it exceeded our expectations so much, that we'll have to get it again next time. First off, the portion was incredibly generous, especially with respect to meat. Secondly, the meat was outstanding - so tender and flavorful, it was literally falling off the bone and there were many pieces to choose from. The hazelnut cous-cous that served as the bed for this beauty was outstanding. I generally enjoy good cous-cous but have never had it with hazelnuts, which I'll have to try more often. It seemed that they were also braised and when paired with the slightly sweet cippolini onions, it made for a decadent combination.

Pear Strudel - As I'm a huge fan of Vesta's Baby Jesus Cake, the pear strudel was Dan's choice. Again, the portion was large and definitely more than enough to split between two people. I loved the flaky, lightly sugared crust. The interior was warm and soft, oozing with pears and even cherries. In the middle of finishing it, I also detected chocolate (or at least that's what my food addled brain was telling me), which is always a plus in my book.

Aside from all of the above mentioned stand-outs, Vesta served every couple a complimentary glass of champagne and a pair of beautifully wrapped butter cookies to bring home. It was nice and yet another special touch, reaffirming why Vesta is a place that you'll want to return to in the future.

Service and Cost:
Overall, the waitstaff did an exceptional job. They were dressed festively and made the night feel even more special. Very close attention was payed to every detail--from making sure that our glasses were full to refreshing our silverware when needed. Everyone was on-point and seemed happy to serve us, as if we were guests in their own house.

In terms of cost, we paid $50 per person for a three-course prix-fixe, including champagne. It was exceptional and worth every penny. I'll gladly return to Vesta in the near future and am hoping to try their brunch next.

Vesta - 21-02 30th Avenue, Astoria NY 11102
N/W Train to 30th Avenue


  1. Yep, we were there (for the 5:00 seating) too. Ridiculously friendly service, as always! The pear dessert was fantastic. (There was definitely a chocolate sauce on the bottom of the plate.) For our entree, we got the steak for two, which was about two pounds and really delicious. Came with fantastic creamy grits/polenta. I was very, very pleased that they didn't dumb-down their food for V-Day, as some restaurants sometimes do.

  2. I agree Harlan. I feel that they offered a good sampling of their regular menu, which is superb. I'll definitely be ordering the lamb again and their fresh cheeses are always delightful.



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