For those of you who live on the main Island of Manhattan, you know that any trip over a bridge better be worth its weight in salt, especially on a rainy day. Amylos Taverna certainly earned the passport stamp. I invited my starving comedian friend, Alex Pavone, to join me for a feast. My assumption was that a man who sustains himself on Ramen would enjoy any meal, so the stakes were low. However, as it turns out, the fine chef at Amylos Taverna opened my friend’s palate to a new world I am not sure he can ever un-taste. In summary: After enjoying the most succulent octopus dish ever devoured, the man is ruined.
A Star Arrival
Alex arrived first and was greeted like a star (something he is not yet used to). I immediately got a text when I hopped off the R and W train, “Buddy! I got the royal treatment! They are walking me around trying to find the best lighting, as if that’s gonna do anything to fix this hair!”
They chose a seat in the middle of the room toward the back of a longer, more narrow layout.
He was right; no amount of lighting would fix that hair … and this brightly lit place was especially unforgiving!
I walked in a few minutes later to greet him in the space, garnished in warm fall tones of golds and browns and birch bark accents, promising comfort on a cold night.
We were seated and told the chef would be assorting his favorite options for us. The lovely waitress came up to take our cocktail order, and I figured, why not leave my cocktail selection in this woman’s capable hands? I asked her to recommend a well-balanced fall-themed cocktail, and I didn’t see a hammer in her hands but she sure did nail it!
The meal began with a delicious perfectly sour-balanced cocktail with a foundation of passion fruit mixed with cinnamon and mint, and just a hint of sweetness. It was a combination that was gorgeously paired. The tiny rounded ice chips melted perfectly as I stirred with the sumptuously garnished cinnamon stick.
Warm Bread for Warm Bellies
While bread is not always worth noting, this one is. Warm and grilled pitas and sourdough bread slices, tossed in extra virgin olive oil, oregano, salt, and pepper came out to greet us, and we scarfed down every perfect moment of crispy outside and doughy inside to warm our bellies.
The Octopus That Ruined Alex
The octopus up next arrived in a splash of colors that were plated beautifully, inviting us to dive into the technicolor taste of the buttery soft inside encased in a charred exterior. Laying comfortably on a bed of fava puree and garnished with a creamy beet dip, we could not stop ourselves from sinking our teeth into this dish … and then remembered we had to take a photo! Oops.
A quick note: Octopus is one of the few foods I typically will not eat because they are intelligent creatures. My plan was to have one taste and leave the rest, but this plan was thwarted the second I tasted this carefully cooked masterpiece.
Next came the baked sardines. I am not a huge fan of sardines, but even I was able to enjoy these! They came through, again, with the masterfully charred outside, while maintaining the effortless moisture on the inside.
Shrimp Avocado Tartare
The unlikely pairing of flavors of shrimp avocado tartare was a nice follow-up to the salty and charred sardines. Tapered off with a tangy strawberry accent, this dish was a delight to the senses! The chopped cucumber gave it a fresh texture, which, when paired with the guacamole, gave excitement to every bite!
Juicy Salmon Mains
Then the main courses came out. True works of art, with beautiful red, orange and yellow fall tones to match the ambiance. The succulent juicy salmon, rounded out with a crisp skin, was topped over a carrot puree and paired with a side garnish of beets and asparagus that were equal in form as they were in function. This dish went quickly, and there was definitely nothing fishy about it!
Stuffed Bell Peppers
Stuffed bell peppers with almost risotto-like rice was a rich way to close out the evening. It reminded me of the warm belly we were greeted with during the first round of pita and bread. The beautifully plated fingerling potatoes elevated the comfort food to something more refined. After the light salmon, this starch finish rounded us out to a sleepy fullness, sending us home satisfied!
Before we left, though, and as we sat taking in the experience we had on this rainy night in Astoria, Queens, we digested the journey with another perfectly balanced Anditode cocktail with chamomile, again selected by our taste-making waitress! The perfect balance of this final drink mirrored the balance of flavors of the meal that stretched our palate just enough, while sending us home in uncomfortable weather feeling cozy and warm.
Visit Amylos Taverna
You’ll want to visit Amylos Taverna and enjoy some of the great goodies we had! For all their information, see below.
Address: 33-19 Broadway, Astoria, NY 11106
Call: +1 718 215 0228
Written by Rachel Vass
Article Date: October 2019
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