Alpha Astoria

2 german girls review greek cafes in Astoria Queens

Monday, October 30, 2006

Flo- 30th Avenue and 38th Street

Why is the name of this cafe spelled incoherently (unless the accent means something)? The word "Flo" only works in two contexts:

1. "Kiss my grits," said Flo as she turned on her heel and went back to the kitchen to demand a raise from Mel
2. Aunt Flo better show up soon or we'll be buying diapers.

Both of these are inappropriate when discussing Astoria cafes (sadly in the case of the former, thankfully in the case of the latter). We assume that this cafe should be named "Flow" though we're unsure exactly what is flowing.

For some reason Brianna didn't expect Flo cafe to be as tacky as other Astoria cafes, from the outside it looks kind of innocuous and unassuming (almost like the building used to be a Jamba Juice -- much like Lefkos Pirgos used to be a white castle). Luckily, inside Flo is as just as euro-trashy as any other cafe (seriously people- don't even bother to comment about how ethnically insensitive we are, there is no way to defend multicolored glowing walls.). We were able to sit outside thanks to the presence of powerful heat lamps (one of the great ironies of the cafe scene for us is that we can sit outside in October but not in June) which made for a more authentic people watching experience (Brianna saw a 17 year old boy in a black fur coat -- it's hard to top that).

Flo has a fairly tiny menu of coffees, sandwiches and a few desserts along with a fairly extensive list of cocktails, (all $9) wines and martinis (all $10) -- including a cocktail temptingly dubbed "B.O." which contains sugar, orange, Bacardi O, 7up and orange juice -- all of which one would think would smell nothing like human sweat.

Their menu is heavy on the pork loin which you can get at least 4 different ways -- Brianna felt that this was a sign that pork loin was some sort of house specialty so she ordered the pork loin sandwich ($8.50). Amy is boring so she ordered a BLT ($5.50 -- cheap!). Both sandwiches came with potato chips (seemed like Ruffles) which was a little odd, but we enjoyed the excuse to consume fried, salted food in the place of vegetables.

At first Brianna was very impressed with the pork sandwich (the pita it came on was really fresh and the sandwich had a yummy olive tapanade spread on it) but the more she ate the more boring it seemed -- there was a lot of meat and (perhaps
influenced by an over consumption of potato chips) she was wishing for some greenery. Amy's BLT had a plethora of iceberg lettuce, which she thinned out a bit, and an extraneous piece of bread separating the bacon from the lettuce/tomato layer (thus avoiding a meat vs. vegetation war -- bacon HATES lettuce). The bacon was nicely cooked and a little smoky, and the sandwich was yummy and tasty in its simplicity (that's Amy for "boring," she just won't admit it).

No frappes were consumed by us at Flo, but after dinner we did decide to have seasonally appropriate drinks (Amy suggested we could get free espresso at her house-- one of the perks of being married is a beautiful new espresso maker--but that seems to defeat the purpose of this entire project). Amy had hot chocolate ($4.50) and Brianna a cappuccino Viennese (= with whipped cream, $4). The hot chocolate was described as "pure chocolate", so Amy was expecting something like she would get at City Bakery (if you haven't tried their hot chocolate with homemade marshmallows you should stop by next time you're in the Flatiron), but it was less dense than that-- and in Amy's opinion better. It came with a single marshmallow on a spoon. For the first hot chocolate of the season, it was a treat. The cappuccino was so-so -- the whipped cream was obviously from a can which was a little disappointing and it covered up any foam (in Bri's opinion the best part of a cappuccino). The cappuccino also came with a small chocolate chip cookie on the side.

We were seated by a cute Greek waitress, but all other server interaction was with a cute non-Greek waitress. The second waitress was *extremely* attentive -- after she took our order she stopped by to make sure we didn't need anything else, then after we got our food she stopped by see if it was ok, then 10 mins later she came by again to check if we needed anything else. Then, between dinner and coffee, she spent a long time making sure our table was very clean. Our huge egos almost had us believing that this website had finally come through and made us famous, but then they brought us a regular check with no discount. We're pretty sure once we're famous we'll get free food. But if when you go there you don't get exemplary service, perhaps you should start a blog reviewing cafes in Astoria.

Awesome Astoria Activity:

Once you finish your frappee, you can burn off those unwanted pounds at the NYSC! (sorry, it was dark out and the picture isn't very clear)

Ambiance: 3
Patron Attractiveness: 2.5
Server Attractiveness: 3
Food: 2.5
Service: 3.5 (though bordering on stalker-ish)

Sunday, October 15, 2006


There have been some changes afoot in the Astoria café scene.

It seems Lefkos Pirgos is doing some renovating. Rapture on took this picture without being attacked by any old ladies (we hope your luck has held and no evil curse has since manifested itself). A few changes to the décor that we’d like to see:

  • An even fancier cake stand (perhaps with the addition of some neon lights and fog)
  • A make-over for Old Mrs. Grumpy Pants (maybe looking good would make her feel good too).
  • Signage clarifying the “ok to photograph” areas in the café.

Byzantio is no more. One assumes their ongoing battle with Zodiac to be the top café on the corner of 31st St and 28th Ave was finally lost when we stopped by and proved that yes, American girls are bitches. We’re sorry Byzantio. On the other hand: Congratz to Zodiac, you’re number 1!!!!!.

Santorini Café on Steinway has closed which we are all for because we have never been there and this make one less café we have to review (though, realistically another café will likely pop-up in it’s place thus brining us back to even).

An update on our future:

Athens Cafe -- 30th and 32nd
Omonia Cafe -- Broadway and 33rd
Kolonaki Cafe -- Broadway and 33rd
Zodiac -- 31st and Newtown
Byzantio -- 31st and Newtown
Lefkos Pirgos -- 23rd Ave at 31st
Park Kafe -- 30th and 30th
Wassi Coffee Lounge -- 28th and 37th
Plaza Cafe -- 30th and 29th
Grand Cafe -- 30th and 37th
Avenue Cafe -- 30th and 36th
Santorini -- Steinways and ?? (no longer exists= done to us!)
Galaxy -- 30th and 37th
Locale -- 34th and 33rd

To Do
Cafe Bar -- 36th and 32nd
Cavo Cafe -- 31st and 42nd
Flo, -- 38th and 30th ave
Elite- 28th and 32nd

Yes ladies and gentlemen, you read that right. Only four cafes left on our once grandiose list. The end is in sight-- though our summer goal may have come and gone, rumor has it that we might be done before winter officially starts!

Monday, October 02, 2006

Galaxy Café -- 30th and 37th

Two posts in one week! Surprise! Out of guilt for going so long without a post and in anticipation of being huge slackers we went to TWO cafes last Tuesday night. After dinner at Grand Café (which has a new ridiculously large advertisement at the Ditmars’ subway station) we walked the 50 feet over to Galaxy Café for dessert. 30th Avenue in the mid 30s is so flush with cafés that we could have continued this pattern until we collapsed from over consumption. It’s possible that even 2 café’s in one evening was a bit too much for us, by the time we reached Galaxy we had to talk ourselves
Add Imageinto wanting dessert.

Galaxy is tiny and much cozier than most of the other Astoria cafes. There were no crazy lit up bars or walls or unifying themes. The décor kind of reminded us of a (generic) grandmother’s house—a cozy couch, wallpaper of questionable taste and dim (but not dark), non-overhead lighting (though there were some recessed track lights in the ceiling). The most impressive decorative touch at Galaxy is the cool vintage cigarette machine located near the bathrooms – it even sold cigarette varieties that seem to have fallen out of regular circulation – it’s almost too bad we don’t smoke. There seemed to be some kind of back seating area as well, but at least on Tuesday evening, most of the customers were located either outside or in the front section of the café.

It doesn’t seem like Galaxy has a kitchen so we assumed that the food options were of the honey soaked variety only however on her trip to the bathroom Brianna noticed that someone was getting some French fries – but it seems likely that these were ordered from outside for employees only, we certainly did not notice a menu.

We are big fans of local recommendations especially when faced with unfamiliar pastry options (though it could obviously be argued that five months in to this challenge we should be Greek dessert experts) so we asked the waitress at Galaxy to recommend a dessert. The waitress was surprisingly unwilling to help us with our decision claiming that she can’t recommend anything because she doesn’t know what we like. We felt a bit snubbed by this and started suspecting that the waitress didn’t really like us. They had a sizable variety of the typical Greek and non-Greek desserts we’ve seen in our travels, including cheesecake, chocolate moose cake, those little cakes shaped like mice, and unknown things wrapped in pretty foil. We eventually settled on the philo dough, honey, walnuts and cinnamon connection. Though very pretty, the pastry was incredibly stale, so much so that we couldn’t get past more then a few bites.

As we go to the dessert-focused cafes, we have noticed a repetition of desserts, and are beginning to suspect that they are not—gasp—made on location. This asks the question: where are these delectable looking concoctions concocted? Is one of the cafés supplying the others? Do the Greek desserts and the non Greek desserts come from separate sources? Is the supplier outside of Astoria?? Another mystery….

When we went up to the counter to pay our bill the total came to $3.75 and Amy paid with four dollar bills – this is when the waitress’ dislike for us became most obvious – and got back 5 nickles. NICKLES. In a city that lives on quarters! If you see Amy on the street and she seems rather stinky you’ll know that she was unable to do her laundry due to the cruelty of the waitress at Galaxy.

Patron Attractiveness: 2.5

Staff Attractiveness: 2.5

Food: 1.5

Atmosphere: 3

Service 2.5