34-10 31st Avenue between 34th and 35th Streets
Astoria, NY 11106
Every time I eat in Queens, it never fails to amaze me how much value/food you get for your buck. Love it.
As Dave and I were spending a gorgeous Saturday in Astoria (check out the Noguchi Museum and Socrates Sculpture Park), we found ourselves famished and stepped into Zenon Taverna, highly recommended by a friend of Dave’s. It was a non-traditional time to eat, and therefore the place was basically empty, but considering how many waitstaff were hanging out, the place probably becomes hopping at night. And it seemed as though there were no two person tables. Huh. The decor is basically homey Mediterranean, with paintings of Greece up and such. The servers wear smart blue button-down shirts and are friendly and seem happy to be working at Zenon.
The menu is rather overwhelming with oodles of choices. Though I noted right away that the appetizer samplers sounded like a wonderful deal. With the Cyprus meze, you get 16 appetizers for $19.95 (minimum two persons). Sounded right up my alley. Dave and I both went with this sweet deal. I also ordered a frappe for just under $5 and sipped that strong coffee drink until the cold appetizers showed up first. These are the descriptions from the menu posted online, and I should add that we were given a couple of strips of olive bread and endless strips of pita for the cold appetizers. The bowls and plates are all Corelle, heh.
Kypriaki Salada – Cyprus Salad – Romaine, lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes, parsley, onions, scallions, fresh cilantro, caper leaves, imported Greek feta cheese and olives. Dressed in extra virgin olive oil and vinegar
Cilantro? Boo. Otherwise, very good.
Tzantziki – Yogurt and Cucumber Dip – Yogurt and cucumber with the taste of fresh garlic and mint
Mmm, love it! Also went well with the meats.
Melitzanosalada – Eggplant Dip – Mashed eggplant, onion, parsley, imported feta cheese and caper leaves with a touch of fresh garlic
I’m not wild about eggplant, so this was just okay.
Scordalia – Garlic Dip – Mashed potatoes with fresh garlic, extra virgin olive oil and fresh lemon juice
Garlic mashed potatoes? I’m there!
Tahini - Tahini Dip – Ground sesame seeds with fresh lemon juice and a touch of fresh garlic
If you like strong sesame tastes, this is for you.
Taramosalada – Red Caviar Dip – Mashed potatoes with red caviar, extra virgin olive oil and fresh lemon juice
I’ve had red caviar dip at Turkish restaurants, but the Cyprus version uses potatoes as a base. Choice stuff.
Pantzarosalada – Beet Salad – Freshly sliced beets and fresh garlic with extra virgin olive oil and vinegar
Just say no to beets, I say. Dave rather enjoyed the purple vegetables, which were marked by a strong sour taste. Lots of vinegar was used, apparently.
Thalassinosalada – Seafood Salad - Kalamari, crab meat, shrimp and celery with extra virgin olive oil and white vinegar
With my first bite, I was a little skeptical, but I kept eating and couldn’t stop. Kind of like the Cyprus version of ceviche.
The waitress said to let her know when we wanted the hot appetizers to come out. Thinking back, Dave thought we should have gotten everything at once, or maybe even the hots first. I was rapidly becoming full and felt bad. So much food!
Lunza – Smoked Pork Loin – Sliced pork loin prepared in a traditional Cypriot manner. Marinated in red wine, smoked and seasoned with dry crushed coriander. It tastes best with fresh lemon zest
The pork is shown above, on a plate with the Cypriot cheese. It was certainly yummy.
Halloumi – Cypriot Cheese – Grilled sheep and goat milk cheese, known as the Cypriot cheese. Tastes best with fresh lemon zest
Sadly I permitted too much time to pass before slicing up the criss-crossed grilled cheese and gobbling it down. It probably would have been much better. My mistake!
Loukaniko Spitisio - Cyprus Sausage – Traditional Cypriot pork sausages marinated in red wine, herbs and spices. Then char-grilled to bring out the aroma of the wine
Thumbs up here.
Keftedes – Cyprus Meatballs – Fried meatballs made with chopped pork and shredded potatoes. Seasoned with onion, parsley, black pepper and mint
These reminded me of hush puppies.
Kalamari – Squid – Char-grilled tender fresh calamari seasoned with oregano, extra virgin olive oil and fresh lemon zest. It can be deep-fried in vegetable oil
I’m not the calamari person, though I would have eaten more had I not been so stuffed.
Souvlaki – Pork Kebab – Char-grilled pork kebab seasoned with oregano, salt and pepper
This was one of the guys who left Zenon with me, in a styrofoam container. Eating cold, hours later, did nothing to diminish its awesome taste.
Ortikia – Quails - Quails marinated in wine, lemon and garlic. Charl-grilled and seasoned with oregano and black pepper
I ate this many hours later too. The quail was seasoned well, but it had a lot of bones, kind of like squab.
Sheftalia – Pork Meatballs – Char-grilled pork meatballs with herbs and spices
The last doggie bag item. Mmm, these are a Zenon signature item for a reason.
We left Zenon wanting to come back. That’s saying a lot. I don’t know if I ever will, but it sure was scrumptious.