Daily Archives: June 20, 2011

Omonia Cafe: 3220 Broadway, Astoria, NY

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When dinner time rolled around last night, G and I decided to wander into Astoria to find somewhere to eat. Although I AM a fan of little hole-in-the-walls that no one has discovered yet, I also find super-crowded places to be very appealing, holding trust in the masses. Omonia Cafe (although I must say  that I hate that the name sounds like ammonia, not at all appealing associated with food) was completely hopping late on a Sunday night, with tons of outdoor seating and a vibrant, lively scene.

We were seated right away at a sidewalk table and took a few minutes to peruse the large and varied menu. Everything from breakfast foods, to salads, to paninis and 3 pages full of pastries, ice creams and other desserts sounded great.

We shared the calamari to start, and it was hot out of the deep-fryer, certainly not one of the healthiest choices I’ve made, but ohhhh so worth it. Not too much breading, generous cuts of calamari and a very good marinara dipping sauce made a great starter and we cleaned the plate pretty quickly.

For my entree, I had a Greek salad that totally hit the spot. Perfect ratios of romaine, tomatoes, kalamata olives, cucumbers, onions and feta with triangles of toasted pita on the side. The only bizarre thing was that they didn’t have any Greek dressing to go with it. Huh? Oh well, I ordered some ranch dressing but didn’t really like it and wound up using the red wine/vinegar that was on the table instead.

With 3 pages of dessert offerings, we really couldn’t leave without trying something…and being that we’d already had a fairly indulgent weekend, we decided one more overdo was at that point, not really a big deal. hahaha. So we ordered a peanut butter, hot fudge sundae and I got a really excellent cappuccino. Little did we know, the sundae was the size of a bowling ball. Somehow, we managed to do some pretty serious damage to it. Today, I am on no-sugar, eating only vegetables/fruits and fish…and feeling quite a bit less gross already 🙂

 

*photos courtesy of Gabriel Sanders. http://www.magicsandbox.com/enter/Magic_Sandbox.html

Iron Horse Grill:

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Anyone who thinks you need to be in NYC to have an amazing 5 star meal, PLEASE go try this place. Up in suburban Pleasantville, NY in the old train station, is a lovely, small, incredible dining experience waiting for your visit. The owner, Philip McGrath, has a ridiculously impressive resume having chefed at many of NYC’s top restaurants, but as a family man he wanted  a quieter, more intimate setting to call his home. His attention to detail and integrity comes through as he comes out to personally meet each of his customers, engaging in friendly conversation, and making sure that every plate is perfect. It’s special touches like these that set Iron Horse apart from the sea of above average restaurants as far as I’m concerned.

Nothing trendy about the atmosphere here, just classic, traditional decor and wait staff who not only know their stuff, but clearly look at it as a career and not just as a job.

My mother and I were celebrating her birthday and since we have the same tastes in food, we decided to share all of the apps, entrees and dessert that we ordered. How wonderful was it that the kitchen was willing to half-plate everything for us so there was no clumsy plate-swapping involved? It was so luxurious to be served our 3 courses in what felt like a 5 course meal.

A lovely , fresh bread basket and crisp, green olives were brought out promptly to wet our already voracious appetites. The first course served was a chilled carrot/dill soup, complete with homemade, waffled potato chips and a small pile of delicious flaked crab. This soup was phenomenal and light- no cream, just the veggies and crab. Perfect for a warm summer evening.

Next we had the peakytoe crab with corn, avocado and caviar and WOW, this was a perfect dish. Also incredibly summer-ific, light and totally succulent. Each flavor stood on it’s own as well as complementing the others that sat beside it. One of the things I love about this chef is that he never overwhelms flavors with excessive seasoning or oil. The dishes are all quite healthy and unmasked and you really get to enjoy the flavor of each top-quality ingredient without disguise. The actual plating of this dish was really quite beautiful as you can see in my photos.

For our entrees we shared the sole over mashed potatoes and the special of the day: my favorite, soft-shelled crabs which were served over wild rice, fiddleheads and almonds. This was a remarkable dish- that stood out to me even among it’s exceptional menu-partners. I don’t think it’s possible to go wrong at this restaurant.

By this time we were SO full, but it WAS a birthday so we HAD to at least look at the dessert menu. And okay, maybe we didn’t exactly need our arms twisted to try the special of the day, a key lime pie with coconut sorbet. I was really glad we went for it, with it’s crisp meringue topping and the delightful coconut sorbet, this key lime was refreshing and as light as can be and perfectly polished off our outstanding meal. This is officially one of my all-time favorite restaurants and I would love to return.

If you are ever in the area, or want a lovely escape from the city, take metronorth up to Pleasantville and you are right there at the Iron Horse. You will thank me, I promise.