Ovelia Day and Night -- 30th Ave and 34th St
Ovelia has gone out on a limb with their choice frappe glass choosing to go with a footed hurricane instead of the standard issue wavy tumbler – kudos to you Ovelia for not being afraid to be a rebel (though, obviously, you'll never ever be any good). The frappe itself was only ok – the frothy bit at the top with all of the yummy yummy sugar that makes the beverage worth drinking refused to stir into the watery coffee base perhaps because the two were kept apart by a weird white layer (probably milk, don’t think about it too much). This led to much stirring in vain and alternating too sweet/too bitter mouthfuls. After Brianna had finished her frappe, Amy finally arrived and the real reviewing could begin. We noticed a strange Greek Café decorating aesthetic that Ovelia works hard to live up to. The general goal seems to be a homage to the girls of reality TV much like they are boring pretty (every part of them perfectly emulating our society's beauty ideals and yet somehow the whole package never resulting in anything special) the cafes seem to be striving for institutionally modern. The whole look feels like Walmart does Frank Lloyd Wright. Looking around, we counted… brace yourselves… six (6) different types of lighting fixtures. Directly above our heads were hanging lamps that had napkins dangling from them as diffusers. Towards the back there were hanging lamps with different napkins that were more translucent. Above the bar were adorable lights that looked like perhaps they were cut from bud vases- pretty. And then, spaced seemingly at random throughout the cafe were at least three different types of track lighting. Despite all of the lights, it just didn’t seem all that well lit. Not that it was dark, but it was decidedly romantic (we almost made out like 4 times). Against the far wall was a jungle of sorts created by a large gathering of plants, and emphasized by leafy wallpaper. Then finally, in the back of the café is a raised area where there is additional seating. This raised area was home to three vases containing flame tornados. If you live in the
The cafe has two unisex bathrooms each with large VERY heavy tempered glass doors which may be see through in the right light (which, obviously this place should have – but it doesn't). The bathrooms themselves are strangely fancy with sinks carved from boulders and a number of high tech appliances ready to automatically do their electronic thing for you. We had to wonder (for at least 30 minutes, in fact, the majority of our dinner conversation centered on the bathroom topic – classy, we know) exactly why a café would spend so much money on a fancy loo. Is this at all likely to create a buzz about the place – was anyone out there on the fence about this establishment but now totally scheduling a visit due to the promise of an awesome peeing experience?
We had decided on a trio of mezze instead of an actual meal. After much discussion, it was settled that we would get grilled calamari in a tomato and wine sauce ($11), zucchini croquettes ($9) and garlic potato dip ($6). The garlic and potato dip as well as the calamari both had Greek names, but we didn’t write them down, and therefore feel no need to even try to post them here (see header re: NOT Greek, know next to nothing about Greek food, culture, language, etc). The calamari was very tender, though Amy found it dry at
times. The sauce was good, but somewhat bland- it could have used more spice. Brianna found the croquettes to be the stand out of the evening. They were light (despite being deep fried) and fresh tasting, and the dipping marinara was a nice compliment. Neither of us was particularly impressed by the potato dip—Brianna was convinced that it was made out of raw potato and Amy found the garlic overpowering. However, the very nice and attentive in a non-pressure-y way waitress offered us extra (warm) pita bread after we finished our first batch, and we gratefully accepted. Brianna also ordered the house sakitini ($8) which included sake, muddled cucumber and sugar and was fabulously refreshing. In a nod to her Mormon sisters (Free Margene!) Amy refused all caffeinated and alcoholic beverages. After inquiring about the large glass jar on the window sill behind the bar we found out that the best drink of the house is likely the Ovelia sikatini which contains fig infused brandy made on site. Just as we assumed our night was drawing to a close, we got a really nice surprise—the (again, very nice) waitress asked if we would be interested in dessert—on the house. The answer is OF COURSE we want free dessert (whew- maybe writing this blog is finally beginning to pay off). A note to our regular readership: we suggest you take a moment here to thank Zeus that this review is not paragraphs and paragraphs of us screeching “OH MY GOD!!!! WE GOT FREE STUFF!!!” Unfortunately, we don’t think that Alpha Astoria is so famous that the Greek Cafes of Astoria are on a lookout for us. It’s much more likely that a) they noticed us taking pictures and writing notes, and decided it’s better to be safe and offer free shit than get a poor review in the New York Times (do *you* know what their reviewer looks like? I think not.) or b) they give free desserts to everyone and we are not special at all. The dessert (to get back to reviewing) was the Round Things Soaked in Honey that we reviewed way back in the day at Athens Café. We liked them a lot at Ovelia—they were much less dense than the Honey Soaked Round Things we’ve had in the past, and there was a lot less honey and they had a sprinkling of cinnamon which made them deliciously reminiscent of fried dough products that you would get at carnivals and fairs. So, in addition to being FREE they were also quite good, and brought back happy memories.
The patronage at Ovelia was younger than that at other cafes and notably less Greek. There was also no smoking, which though a state law, is not always one that is honored at Astorian establishments. The mostly female (and quite attractive) wait-staff was primarily of Greek descent (as far as we could tell) and our waitress looked surprisingly like Justine Bateman (the internet claims the name is Saxon in origin so, sadly, Justine is likely not Greek). The (also attractive) table-staff was mainly Hispanic. Ultimately, everyone in the restaurant, including us of course, was damn good looking.
Staff Attractiveness: 4.5
Patron Attractiveness: 4.5