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Posts from the ‘Greek’ Category

MP Taverna Roslyn

twoshovelThe primary upside of finding myself in a suburb is that I can make an excuse for trying a new chain restaurant. At least this is always the case in New Jersey. Long Island, though, which one would think is very much the same, just on the east side of New York City instead, is not the same at all

The area around North Shore Animal League, Port Washington, North Hempstead, Manhasset, whatever you want to call it, had a startling lack of proper chains, and drifting nearer to Roslyn, it was clear that this was a wealthy character-preserving town. The tip offs were the Main Street Chase branch dolled up in clapboard like it belonged in a maritime village and the strip mall sitting across the street from an Aston Martin dealership, all shiny with its Brooks Brothers, Tory Burch and Tiffany. And even though a restaurant along this corridor whipped by in seconds, a blur of lights and parking lot opulence that seemed better suited for Los Angles (pure speculation because I’ve know nothing about the city except that I could envision this restaurant being the setting for a misunderstanding on Curb Your Enthusiasm), I made a point of remembering the name: Limani. (Oh, there will be a Rockefeller Center outpost soon–also, it’s a Greek restaurant, as well, which isn’t immediately apparent from a drive-by.)

MP Taverna was the closest thing passing for chain (three spots to date, and a staffer was telling customers about a Brooklyn location being scouted, which may or may not be the giant Williamsburg project).  I never ever hear about the NYC restaurant, despite the New York Times review from only six months ago. It’s popular in Roslyn. A 5:15pm Open Table check on a Saturday night yielded only 5:30pm and 9pm slots. I went early bird and by 6pm, the dining room and bar were mostly full.

mp taverna duo

Oh yes, the food. It’s rustic (I almost said “lusty” but that’s a horrible word and then noticed it’s used in the Times review, for what it’s worth) with strong flavors and a few slight twists, but generally, it’s straightforward menu. A clove-y spiced Manhattan to start, followed by a salad filled with chopped dried apricots and figs, smoked almonds, and manouri, like a less salty feta.

mp taverna lamb shank

I wanted to play indignant customer and ask for the whole goat or lamb, both which require five-days notice as stipulated in small print on the menu, then get outraged when told no. Instead, I politely ordered the lamb shank with orzo, which was unexpectedly tomato-saucy (I was imagining a drier dish enlivened with fat and natural juices) and what I thought was an undercooked mirepoix were cubed root vegetables. I’m still not sure there was supposed to be that much stiffness and crunch. No, I’m not really selling this dish, but the lamb, itself, was tender and cooked well.

mp taverna cake

The parsnip and walnut cake was a wintry play on carrot cake, and taken more seasonal with the scoop of maple ice cream.

I did not intend to turn this into a full Shovel Time post because I had more to say about the surroundings than the food, often the case with my suburban fixations, but now you have the story of three courses anyway. So, who’s been to Limani?

MP Taverna * 1363 Old Northern Blvd., Roslyn, NY



Athens Tavern

I hate to admit that there’s a food I don’t like because I prefer to believe I’m open minded. But I have to say that I’m not crazy about rabbit. There, I said it.

It’s definitely not something I grew up with, but then neither are most meats beyond chicken, ham and ground beef. When I ordered rabbit two birthdays ago at Cookshop the taste weirded me out. I thought it was a fluke, though. Yet the same thing happened again with this creative Greek preparation employing cinnamon and bergamot. The sea of orange is mashed sweet potatoes.


I don’t have issues with offal or venison or heck, even horse. Game is fine but there’s something about rabbit that’s tangy and sharp, hitting my palate high and towards my throat almost like vomit. Literally like I threw up in my mouth a little. It’s definitely doesn’t taste like chicken.

Athens Tavern is interesting in that it doesn’t fall into either predominate NYC Greek category: Manhattan haute Hellenic and dully traditional fare in Astoria. Athens Tavern sits in said Queens neighborhood but it’s far more ambitious than grilled octopus and spanakopita.


We were given three dips from the appetizer menu gratis. No complaints there. From left to right: mavromatika, a black-eyed pea salad, melitzanosalata, garlicky eggplant mash served with barley rusks, taramosalata, a carp roe puree that I seriously couldn’t stop eating. I don’t understand how fish eggs, lemon juice and olive oil can be so good.


Kypriakes pittes gemistes me pikantiko kotopoulo is a mouthful. All you need to know that all those words equal curried chicken salad in crispy pitas. Kind of strange, actually. The English description made mention of pie, so I was hoping for something more flaky and pastry-like.

James ordered a whole grilled fish, possibly a porgy, but the photo was even blurrier than the ones I’ve included here.


We didn’t order dessert but were brought two anyway and glasses of Muscat. I wasn’t sure if this was hospitality or special treatment. Not that I do anything to warrant freebies. You might think that furtively scribbling notes or taking photos in a restaurant would draw attention, but it rarely does. I think New Yorkers are blasé.


Pineapple phyllo and rose flavored chocolate mousse were both very alluring but unnecessary since we’d already eaten our fill. Ok, since I let my rabbit hesitancy out of the bag, allow me another admission that will make me seem like a pickier eater than I am. I absolutely gag at the thought of eating flowers, and even flavors like violet, rose and orange blossom give me trouble.

In high school I occasionally smoked Jezebel cigarettes perfumed with rose and gardenia. I thought they were the coolest because they were pink and magenta with gold tips and matched my hair color. But they were so sweetly foul they’d induce instant nausea. This is how I feel about flowery desserts.

That is not how I feel about Athens Tavern, however, just rose water. Read my positive review on

Very strange…the day I finally got around to posting this (I wait until my listings get published, which can lag anywhere from a few weeks to many months from when I actually ate the meal) a bit shows up on Grub Street that the restaurant might be history. Well, I just typed all this nonsense so there’s no deleting it now.

Athens Tavern * 23-01 31st St., Astoria, NY