2005-05-11 / Restaurant of the Week

Baru Fine Eatery Bar

Offers Elegant Affordable Dining

Astoria’s newest dining venue is making a real splash with a raw bar, seafood specialties, exciting appetizers and spectacular entrees. Besides the great food, the atmosphere is simply beautiful. Don’t let the ultra-chic interior intimidate you—Baru Fine Eatery Bar offers casual, comfortable dining in an elegant setting for all to enjoy, with moderate prices.

Owners Chris Kouvaros, Tony Maminakis and friends graciously welcome everyone for anything from a cocktail to a full meal or some of their dazzling appetizers. What’s more, you’re welcome to sit in any area of the space—in a sleek leather chair at one of the sparkling marble tables, the cozy lounge area, or under the unique hanging lights at the contemporary bar. Warm wooden floors, marble and brushed steel all come together to create a soothing atmosphere in which to enjoy Baru’s top-notch food.

You’ll be treated to expert service by the polite wait staff as they deliver everything to you literally on a silver platter. Wines and champagnes from Chile, Argentina, Italy, France and Greece are available from $25, and are decanted at your table, is a lovely touch forgone by most restaurants these days. Two varieties of warm, crusty bread in a pretty basket are accompanied by herb-infused olive oil.

I couldn’t wait to sample their raw bar, with every item on it fresh from the ocean. Order any of four types of oysters singularly, or by the half dozen. I chose a sampling of all four and was impressed by their presentation on a silver boat filled with shaved ice. Fresh lemon wedges and cocktail sauce enhanced these wonderful fruits of the sea. Clams served raw or baked are also available. Oysters Rockefeller, topped with sautéed spinach is another decadent treat. Tuna tartare is one of my favorite starters and Baru does a great job of it, dicing the finest sushi-grade tuna and flavoring it with a touch of sesame oil and avocado. Hot appetizers include incredibly delicious crab cakes, golden on the outside, full of sweet, lump crab meat and served with a delicate sauce on the side. A mound of wilted spinach and shoestring potatoes tops off this memorable plate. Grilled scallops or octopus served with a special lemon sauce melt in your mouth. An ocean sampler—one pound of grilled shrimp, two pounds of calamari, and one and a half pounds of jumbo scallops—is ideal for groups of four to six people. A lovely spring salad of arugula with walnuts made a nice segue to the main course.

Entrees at Baru are generously sized and diners are encouraged to share them, thus allowing guests to sample many of their wonderful dishes. Baru’s bouillabaisse is a French delicacy of clams, shrimp, scallops, mussels and monk fish stewed together with Mediterranean spices in a clay pot ($25). Blackened yellowfin tuna is cooked to perfection in a cast iron pan to seal in all the juices and rich flavor of the fish ($21). Ocean fresh salmon in a crust of Yukon gold potato slices and horseradish is baked to flaky perfection ($19). Next time, I’d like to try the twin lobster tails, broiled with garlic and butter and served with sautéed spinach and grilled fruit.

Fine cuts of meat are served as well, with kudos to the rack of baby lamb, drizzled with rosemary and port wine sauce and grilled to order. Served with oven baked, red bliss potatoes and vegetables, this is a very satisfying meal with plenty for diners to share or take home ($25). A 20-ounce rib eye steak served with sautéed mushrooms will satisfy any steak lover. A 24-ounce Porterhouse and a 12-ounce filet mignon cut like butter. All entrees come with a choice of one side dish. Try the French fries, hand cut and served piping hot, the garlic mashed potatoes or seasoned wild rice, and share them with your companions.

Feel free to linger after your wonderful repast so the wait staff can tempt you with Baru’s dessert tray. A melted chocolate soufflé is out of this world, as are the crème brulee, apple tart or any of their other enticing choices. Robust coffee and an after dinner cordial will bring a memorable evening to a satisfying end.

Baru Fine Eatery Bar makes lunch memorable as well, with delectable sandwiches, salads and entrees at reasonable prices. Make any night a special occasion when you dine at Baru Fine Eatery Bar on 30th Avenue in Astoria. Located right near the elevated train stop, Baru is an ideal place to meet up with friends after work for a drink, a sampling from the raw bar or a memorable dinner. Enjoy the elegant atmosphere and the casual attitude and prices.

Baru Fine Eatery Bar is a welcome addition to the neighborhood.

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