Thursday, April 10, 2008

Taverna Kyklades

Taverna Kyklades
33-07 Ditmars Blvd (between 33rd and 35th Streets)
Queen, New York
Subway: N, W to Astoria, Ditmars Blvd

by Val Bitici

As a restaurant family, the Bitici clan has an innate appreciation for all things food related: cooking, eating, 17th century Dutch still life paintings (ok, so I threw that one in there), etc. When I have plans to eat out with my dad, I know that a delightful gourmet experience awaits me. But when he calls me and tells me that he’s picking me up with his car, I know to expect an extra special treat. I particularly enjoy our epicurean expeditions outside the (too often ego-centric) island of Manhattan. For this reason I am always happy when he suggests that we go to Astoria for Greek food.

A crowd of hungry people and an intense smell of fresh food always greet me as I enter Taverna Kyklades. The charm of this bustling restaurant is not attributed to its location or décor, but instead to the straightforward and tasty dishes that are prepared in its kitchen. While quite extensive, the menu consists of simple options that are for the most part grilled. My dad always taught me that the simplest foods, such as grilled chicken, meat or fish, are the most difficult to prepare properly. Anyone can slap a chicken breast onto a grill and watch it sizzle. But only the true professionals can marinate, season and grill it to meet and even surpass the expectations of unsuspecting eaters. The grill-men at Taverna Kyklades have this art down to a science. My favorite items on the menu include the grilled sardines, grilled chicken kebab, grilled peppers, lemon potatoes, beets and tzatziki. My advice is to go with a group of friends and try them all… and then some. I promise you will not leave unsatisfied.

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