Of The Week
Symposio Has Live Music And Fine Dining
Enjoy an evening of wonderful Greek and Mediterranean dishes, fine wine and cocktails, live music and a lesson in Greek mythology and culture all in one place—Symposio, located on 30th Avenue, just next door to the Keystone Diner. Owner Zan Diakos set out to create an intimate place where people could meet to eat, drink and enjoy music and talk, just as Plato himself would have done centuries ago. In fact, the name Symposio comes from Plato's famous essay, which literally means drinking together. In this essay, Plato reveals the role of wine in the daily life of Greeks. The symposio consisted of two parts: the meal, which was served with wine, and the discussion, in which the diners spoke in turn on the topics of the day, their orations interspersed with entertainment.
Every Thursday, Friday and Saturday evening, starting at 9 p.m., Aphrodite Daniel sings contemporary and traditional Greek songs, accompanied by pianist Panos Chrysovergis. Together they create an intimate atmosphere with the audience that comes for the food, wine and music. Daniel is the daughter of famous band leader, Michael Daniel, who came to Astoria in the 1960's, bringing with him some of Greece's best musicians and songs. Daniel and Chrysovergis carry on this tradition and will even take requests for your favorite American songs, too.
Symposio is a very comfortable restaurant, tastefully decorated with original still life murals painted by Effie Diakos. An impressive gallery collection of photos of Astoria adorns the wall and tells of the neighborhood's rich history. Soft lighting and candles glowing on white linen tablecloths make for a great atmosphere in which to enjoy the delicious food and wine. In addition, manager Nick Bardis is always on hand to ensure a pleasant evening for all.
Start with a bottle of wine from their cellar, which features vintages from Greece and Italy, starting at very reasonable prices.
Appetizers are my favorite part of Greek cuisine and Symposio delivers delicious spreads of melitzanosalata (eggplant salad), and taramosalata (caviar dip), each served with warm triangles of fresh pita bread. The marinated, grilled octopus is among the most tender I've had and the sautéed cheese (saganaki) is so savory your mouth will water. For a party of four, try the assorted meze and sample several different appetizers.
For my entrée, I couldn't ignore the tender, baby lamb chops, grilled over a wood-burning fire. Served with lemon potatoes and fresh broccoli, it was a meal fit for a king. Ribeye steak or house sirloin are also excellent choices, grilled to order and served sizzling hot ($21.95). Well-spiced ground beef resembles an upscale meatloaf and is a traditional Greek dish. My companion enjoyed another specialty, lamb fricassee, a stew of meaty lamb shanks and greens together, then finished with a tangy lemon sauce. Chicken breast Alexander is sautéed with onions and peppers and served over rice and all dishes are beautifully presented on dishes of various designs. Vegetarians can enjoy a platter of grilled fresh vegetables with a drizzle of olive oil.
Greek cuisine relies heavily on the sea and Symposio serves only the freshest catches of the day. Be it a whole porgy, red snapper or salmon, be sure the fish will be cooked to perfection using only the finest extra virgin olive oil and fresh lemon. Shrimp Symposio is sautéed with garlic, oil and bits of feta cheese, served with rice. Seafood stew, served in a clay pot, is a melange of calamari, shrimp, scallops and tender orzo pasta ($18.95).
It is customary to finish a meal with a sweet dessert wine or after-dinner cordial. A cup of coffee and a traditional honey-soaked pastry like baklava will leave a sweet and satisfied taste.
There is never a cover charge, and you are welcome to come in just for a drink or coffee and dessert. Symposio will happily arrange for a private party, any night of the week, and can even prepare a special spit-roasted lamb or pig for parties of 10 or more. Call in advance to arrange a very special evening with family and friends.
You owe it to yourself to spend an evening at Symposio.
30-19 30th Ave.