Thursday, May 10, 2012

Christos Steakhouse - Beef with Attitude...and then some!

While far from being my first time at Christos, there has been quite a respite between my last meal here.  So when the opportunity presented itself, Meg and I took the bait of checking it out and digging into some new menu items as well as a few oldies but goodies.  Bringing the guys along with us, there were absolutely no complaints from the peanut gallery, as we walked out with happy moods, full bellies and an eagerness to come back.  

Here are some of the standouts of the night, which I highly encourage trying:

Apps - The evening started off with many gorgeous apps, including an elegant steak tartare with schezuan peppers and a delicate quail egg on top.  While at first it was something I had to get used to, it ended up being my favorite app--rich, decadent and really beautifully flavored.  Meg knew the secret to its greatness, as she gingerly added the dijon mustard and onions on top of the beef, which cut its richness, giving it that pop and burst of freshness.

I also really enjoyed the grilled calamari, with a nicely charred crust, simply dressed with lemon juice and olive oil.  It was far from heavy and reminded me of something I'd eat on vacation.  The oozing saganaki cheese with a well done crust was also something to write home about, and was just lovely when paired with the crusty peasant bread.

Salad - We enjoyed two salads, including the baby arugula with figs, shallots, and smoked feta as well as a classic Greek salad with juicy, thick-cut tomatoes, cucumbers, feta and oregano.  Both were an excellent prelude to the main event, and even though they contained a lot of interesting ingredients, they also served as nice palate cleansers.

Steak - The piece-de-resistance of the meal was of course the steak, and we got to taste "The Wedge" a gargantuan piece of USDA prime aged steak, which included a variety of cuts, including filet, culotte and tri tip.  I thought it was a nice way to go, especially for a group, since we got to sample the different cuts and choose which one we liked best.  All the meat was cooked nicely, with a medium rare inside and a beautifully charred crust on the outside.  We used Christos' signature steak sauce to make this already delicious hunk of meat even more flavorful.

Sides - Even though I love steak, I usually get more excited about the sides, and just loved everything Christos brought out.  Two items shined for me the most, including the lobster mashed potatoes and the smoked feta mashed potatoes.  I know, I know...both sound similar but their flavors were totally different--the former interspersed with chunky pieces of fresh lobster meat that automatically gave you that surf and turf splurge, while the latter velvety and smooth as butter tasted sort of like bryndza.

Dessert - The desserts were just incredible, and between the red velvet cheesecake to the baklava tart, the Baked Astoria and the fresh banana pudding, it was hard to choose a winner.  If I'd have to, it'd be the Baked Astoria, closely followed by the baklava tart.  The former is Christos' take on the Baked Alaska, with a golden brown meringue shell and a soft, cakey inside, and some ice cream too.  It felt incredibly special and like a true treat that you can't get anywhere else.  The baklava tart was unique as well, as they transformed this traditional Greek pastry into an open faced tart, with the walnut, pistachio and almond filling and some ridiculously good almond ice cream on top.  This was heaven...just heaven!

Service and Cost:
We loved the experienced service at Christos, as everyone is courteous, professional and seems to have an interest in what they do.  We were lucky to speak with Chef Mina Newman as well, who humored us and our questions about her favorite cuts of steak, the sourcing of her ingredients and her inspiration for the menu.  I really enjoyed the insider view from a strong, female steakhouse chef, which I think is pretty rare.  Go Mina!

Costs are moderate for steakhouse standards and include:

Appetizers - $10-$19

Salads - $10-$14
Steak - $35-$130

Sides - $8-$10

3 Mmmms

Christos Steakhouse - 41-08 23rd Avenue, Astoria, NY 11105
N/Q Train to Ditmars Blvd (last stop)

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