Sunday, October 13, 2013
Telly's Taverna Masters Greek Food
A few weeks ago, Meg and I spent some time at Telly's Taverna - a Greek Astorian institution in its own right. It's bizarre to me I've often overlooked Telly's, especially when I lived in this neighborhood, but after our delicious experience, I can confidently say that won't happen again.
Pretty traditional as far as Greek restaurants go, Telly's is set up not unlike a lot of its neighboring comrades. The kitchen (including grill) is situated up front, accompanied by a more casual dining area, while the whole left side of the restaurant serves as the formal dining room, and it's where all the action takes place, so to speak.
Loving the spacious room that accommodates both large and intimate parties, Meg and I sat at a four top table towards the back. Even though the front of the room was more appealing, and buzzing with energy, it was quite chilly due to the open windows. The open air atmosphere is great during warm summer months though, and gives diners a good opportunity to observe the goings on on 23rd Ave. It's not unlikely to see a lot of large parties dining at Telly's during the weekend or a weeknight, celebrating a holiday or a special family occasion.
Although we came hungry, we were so not prepared for this giant feast. Needless to say, we walked out happy and had plenty of leftovers for the upcoming week.
Mezze - Interested in trying a variety of mezze, we went for veggie centric dishes as well as seafood. The veggies were fantastic, and stood out to me both during this course as well as when paired with entrees. The green salad and the tomato cucumber salad were fresh and zesty, and topped with plenty of milky feta. Dressed simply with good quality olive oil, vinegar and lemon juice, it was the perfect way to whet our appetite.
The other big app standouts were the grilled octopus and the gigantes beans in tomato sauce. I loved the slightly crunchy exterior of the octopus and the melt-in-your-mouth middle, which was cooked just right. Surprised by the burst of flavor in the gigantes beans, this was a real comforting dish, as it was stewed in a homemade tomato, garlic/onion sauce that conjured up memories of grandma's kitchen.
Main Dishes - Pleasantly overwhelmed by the rich spread of meat and seafood in front of us, we tried a little bit of everything and had a hard time deciding what we liked best. If I'd have to choose, I'd give the standing ovation to the grilled biftekia and the juicy lamb chops. Both were simple, but beautifully executed dishes that were flavored with fresh herbs and lemon. Paired with classic side dishes such as thin Greek chips with oregano and perfect lemon potatoes, they'll satisfy even the most discerning customer.
Although we couldn't finish everything at that moment, we took a lot home, which made for great leftovers - especially the biftekia, which I later tore into salad.
Dessert - I love me some loukomades (Greek donuts with honey) and these looked and tasted impeccable. Boasting a beautifully golden brown exterior and a soft and airy interior, they were pure heaven with a little bit of cinnamon and honey on top.
Service and Cost:
The staff at Telly's is made up of experienced and friendly waiters who are knowledgeable about the food and pay a lot of attention to diners' needs. We always felt well taken care of, our glasses of water refilled frequently and our sharing plates refreshed periodically. It was nice to know that we could hang as long as we wanted to without being bothered.
Costs are really fair given the high quality of food, and Telly's is a restaurant I'd happily return to in the near future:
Mezze - $4 - $16
Meat - $12 - $24
Seafood - $12 - $24
Dessert - $6
Telly's Taverna - 28-13 23rd Avenue, Astoria NY 11105
N/Q Train to Ditmars Blvd (last stop)