Thursday, January 12, 2012
Psari - The Greek Captain Knows Best
I was very very excited to finally try the food at Psari (formerly known as The Greek Captain) for many reasons - a). it's been a part of the Astoria community for as long as I could remember, b). I've tried their oysters previously at a local tasting event and loved them and c). I was just in the mood for traditional, delicious Greek food.
Located on the not so atmospheric 36th Avenue, Psari is a true gem and stands out as such not only by its nice facade but also by its enticing menu of fresh seafood. While everyone is seated inside these days due to the cold, in the summertime, sidewalk seating is available and you can peek inside to see what's going on.
Having been a part of this neighborhood for many years, Psari did something really smart to keep its positive standing and desirability in the neighborhood - they revamped the interior to modernize it, appealing to growing younger audience in the neighborhood. I think this was a great move and the interior is really tastefully done, with sleek wooden finishes, a gorgeous partially exposed historic ceiling, vintage artwork and an oyster bar. The whole space feels comfortable and inviting, and we were happy to see it bumpin' on a random, rainy Wednesday night.
I just love looking at a Greek menu of goodies - there's always something delicious to explore in the meze part especially. Psari's nice looking menu totally got me excited for the meal yet to come.
Meze - Our eyes immediately focused on the dip combo with pita, which is a common app at Greek restaurants, and it's always a winner. I'm happy to say it won us over here too, and I first off loved how it was presented, each of the 5 dips separated by a spoon. My two favorite dips were the garlicky skordalia (potato/garlic salad) and the spicy feta/jalapeno dip. I've seen the latter also served at Ovelia, and they do it quite well, but Psari's version was a close competitor with just the right amount of spice and a nice, spreadable texture.
We also ordered saganaki as a starter, a lightly fried kefalograviera cheese, which was out of this world. I mean, there's never a wrong way you can go with fried cheese in my book, but still, this was exceptional. The light batter around it, coated it beautifully and gave the cheese a nice, crispy skin, while the inside was soft, warm and oozing with goodness. It was quite salty too, but once you spritzed some lemon on top and paired it with a well done pita, it created the perfect Greek harmony.
Porgy - I just love that you can get your fish prepared in virtually any way you want it. Want to indulge? Get the fried. Conscious of your waistline? Order the grilled or broiled. We opted for the grilled, and with a light olive oil and lemon dressing on top.
The fish arrived whole, as I expected it to and I like that very much, as I enjoy playing with my food and picking the fish apart in all its glory. Generally porgy is a pretty light fish with some dark meat too, which is on the oilier part, but both are very flavorful. Overall, it was a quality protein, as it smelled like the sea and tasted even better - especially when paired with the gorgeously tender lemon potatoes.
Veggie Feast - Our dining companion and friend Sarah is a vegetarian and got a veggie feast fit for a Greek goddess. We joked around about how much food she got, and you can see her relishing in the sheer quantity of it all in the above picture.
Aside from the lemon potatoes we also got with our fish, she chose the horta (dandelion greens), a cabbage salad and zucchini croquettes. I tasted the latter and really loved their flavor and texture, which was minty, garlicky and as tender as a perfectly fried potato pancake. I love dipping it into the cool tzatziki sauce that we had left over from our dip appetizer.
Service and Cost:
What can I say about the service, except that it was truly remarkable. The staff has really invested a lot of time, energy and love into this place, and they run like Psari like a well oiled machine. We only partially joked about how unbelievably attentive everyone was, and as soon as we finished our sentence, one of Psari's wonderful servers was refilling our glasses of water. Everything in this realm was excellent, and there seemed to be nothing that the staff could not achieve - it was impressive.
Costs are inexpensive to moderate, and you really get bank for your buck. The whole dinner, which was a total feast was just under $30/person with tax and tip. And we took tons of leftovers home too. Cheers to that!
Psari - 32-10 36th Avenue, Astoria NY 11106
N/Q Train to 36th Avenue