Monday, February 1, 2010

Taverna Kyclades - Hands Down The King of Seafood

Taverna Kyclades - 33-07 Ditmars Blvd, Astoria NY 11105
N/W Train to Ditmars Blvd (last stop)

I can't believe that I'm actually writing these words, but the day has come when I've stepped foot into Taverna Kyclades, and enjoyed their food.  Why is this a big deal you ask?  All you locals undoubtedly know how incredibly difficult it is to get into this place--they don't under any circumstances take reservations.  Therefore, the wait is (and has always been) simply too great of a burden to bear.  Until now. 

Margot, Dillon, Dan and I waited patiently last week, and were rewarded with the best Greek dinner of our lives.  No exaggeration.

Taverna's surroundings are humble, but somehow they make you feel comfortable, almost as if you're hanging out at your grandmother's house. 

There are two dining sections that occupy the space--one is to the left and the other to the right of the entrance.  Both have a very different feel--the right seems to be more traditional and diningroom-esque, whereas the other reminds me of an old, rustic sun room with wild plants and a makeshift plastic screen, protecting you from the cold.  Although I preferred where we sat (in the real dining room), the other area wouldn't deter me from enjoying myself--actually it was endearing.

We've heard so many amazing things about Taverna's seafood that we couldn't wait to try everything.  Taking a stealth peak at other people's plates, our appetite intensified by the second.  We all ordered seafood dishes, which came as no surprise, and we walked out with smiling faces and full bellies.

Apps  - Our first two plates were relatively "light" compared to the rest of our meal and included a big portion of skordalia as well as grilled octopus.  Both were absolute stand-outs and I had a hard time deciding which I liked better. 

The skordalia was silky smooth and flavored with just the right amount of garlic, olive oil and lemon juice.  I'm often not in love with this dish because it's so easy to mess up - sometimes it can be gummy and lumpy.  Not this one, as it was a perfect puree of ingredients and the flavors just melded together like perfectly composed music.  I strongly recommend it!

Almost everyone at our table was an octopus lover and while the skordalia was awesome, the octopus was an absolute home run.  I've never had octopus that was this meaty and delicious - if not prepared right, it can be tough and unpleasant to chew.  Well...not the case here at all - these guys know what they're doing.  I loved that the dressing was simple and light, consisting once again of good olive oil, lemon juice and crunchy cucumbers on the side.

Main Dishes
- Seafood couldn't be passed up and we all got our own variation.  Dan and Margot chose the stuffed shrimp with crabmeat, Dillon got the fillet of fish also stuffed with crabmeat, and I went for the grilled calamari entree.  I can't say that I had a favorite, because all were exceptional in their own way.

The stuffed shrimp was the greatest indulgence in my opinion.  The shrimp itself was huge, affixed with bulbous appendages made of quality crabmeat.  There's no other way to describe it except for ridiculous.  The crabmeat (topped with crunchy breadcrumbs) added so much flavor to the shrimp, that it made them unusually filling.  We couldn't believe there were just five shrimp on the plate because it felt like so much more.

Dillon's stuffed fillet had a similar taste to the shrimp (the stuffing was the same), while my grilled calamari resembled the grilled octopus. It was awesome, flavored in the same way as the octopus--lemon, olive oil, salt and pepper.  Simple and perfect.  The calamari were fresh as can be and just like with everything else, there was lots of them. 

Dessert - While we didn't order dessert, we were presented with a complimentary plate of galaktoboureko, a custard filled phyllo pastry.  Wow, was this heaven!  The custard was rich and creamy, sandwiched between flaky phyllo dough, soaked in syrup and topped with cinnamon.  It was a perfect end to an incredible meal without being overly sweet. 

Service and Cost:
Although we waited for almost an hour to be seated, Taverna did it right by giving us 4 drink tickets to a nearby bar to compensate for the wait.  "How smart," I thought, as they kept us happy and "toasty" at the same time.  When we got back to Taverna, we waited a mere five minutes before getting seated--not bad.

Our waitress was good and overall, the service was efficient.  All dishes came out promptly and piping hot.  The only awkwardness we encountered was when we asked to have two dishes wrapped up - the server looked at us like we were crazy but then brought out the doggy bags.  No harm done.

Costs are moderate for Astoria but so worth it given the amazing quality and taste of everything.

Appetizers:  $3.50-$10.95 
Entrees (meat):  $10.95-$19.95
Entrees (fish):  $13.75-$31.95

Lunch specials: $7.50-$12.50

3 Loud Mmmms


  1. I've been to Taverna Kyclades twice, both on Friday nights. The first time was purely accidental. My family and I were on our way to another Greek place when we passed Taverna and saw how packed it was. We turned around, put in our names, waited 45 minutes and had an incredible meal. It's the place I bring all of my guests. You just have to be patient but it's worth it. Then afterwards, there's nothing better than swinging by Martha's Country Bakery for a second dessert (since Taverna gave us free dessert both times we went) and some coffee.

  2. I agree, it is SO worth the wait. I like Martha's too although after the hefty meal at Kyclades, I don't know if I'd have room. I'd have to take a doggy bag :)

  3. I loooooove love love this place! I want to go back and try everything else on the menu... oh woah is me, the time, the travel.. another day soon, definitely summer time!

  4. I want to try the baby shark too - next time...

  5. I think Elias Corner For Fish is better actually. I do love both though.

  6. I have yet to try Elias - will have to do that. And Bahari, I hear is great too!

  7. Oh I forgot about Elias! I wanted to try that. The appeal of going and picking out your food before you eat it is too strong to deny my stomach the chance

  8. Yeah - let's go next time!

  9. Have you been to Elias yet? Now that the weather is warmer sit outside and have the waffle fries and monk fish, with a Greek salad to start. Dee-lish.

  10. Sirbeef - it's next on my list. I gotta hit it!



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