2011-06-15 / Restaurant of the Week

COURT SQUARE DINER

If you're looking for a cool place to eat in this summer, just mosey over to Court Square Diner, open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner, as well as beer, wine, cocktails and specialty drinks, Court Square Diner has an incredible array of freshly prepared menu choices for every palate, diet and whim. Owners Steve and Nick Kanellos bought the diner 21 years ago and they have been satisfying a varied clientele ever since. Energetic and hands-on, they know the rhythm of the day and are ready for whatever comes up.

Sometimes they're asked to provide catering for TV and movie crews or prepare dishes to use on sets. For example, they did the catering for the spy thriller, Salt, starring Angelina Jolie, and count “Chopped” on the Food Network among their regular clients. In-house, they serve the entertainment industry by supplying the backdrop for restaurant scenes in commercials, television programs and films. Most recently, Court Square Diner played a supporting role in the sitcom “30 Rock”. If you stop in, you might happen upon some of the action or get a glimpse of the “Gossip Girl” cast when they come here to eat.

Court Square Diner also delivers 24/7 free of charge, so you can even stay home and eat like a star. Choose from a menu of crisp salads, salad platters, wraps, burgers or specialty sandwiches (all for under $11.00); or enjoy the spinach pie ($9.95), spaghetti with meat sauce (10.95), or one of the other Greek or Italian specialties. You can also order chicken, turkey, beef, or seafood, or try one of the dinner specials.

Baking is done on the premises, some of it by Steve Kanellos himself, and the menu includes an assortment of over 25 desserts so you can finish your meal on a sweet note. Layer cakes, cream and fruit pies, baklava and strudel are just a few of the selections, and an average dessert costs under $4.00. Court Square Diner will prepare whole cakes, pies, pastries and cookies for any occasion as well as deliver them to your door. Perfect for a large crowd, a $35 cake will serve about 20 people.

A friend and her husband, a chef by profession, have made a Friday morning ritual of breakfasting at Court

Square Diner. Every week they order something different from the breakfast menu that includes eggs, omelets, pancakes, French toast, Belgian waffles, bagel and bialy choices, muffins, fresh fruit and more (all for under $9.00).

You can have turkey bacon or beef or turkey sausage if you're counting calories, and there is a "Low Carb Breakfast" of three egg whites, cottage cheese, lettuce and tomato that costs only $7.95. The prices are reasonable, so if you'd like to start your morning by doing something special, you can afford to stop at Court Square Diner, even if you're watching your budget and waistline.

My dinner companion and I had a delicious meal and a great time at Court Square Diner. A choice of seating includes big, comfortable booths in the front of the restaurant, a dining room with tables and chairs (which can be reserved for parties) in the back, a lunch counter with cushioned stools, and a cozy dessert and coffee bar. We chose a booth where we received just the right amount of attention from our professional wait staff. Some of the diner's personnel have worked alongside the Kanellos brothers for as many as 21 years, and that may explain why everything seems to run so smoothly.

Appetizers range in price from $2.25 for garlic bread to $9.75 for a Hot Appetizer Combo of Buffalo wings, chicken fingers and mozzarella sticks. We chose baked stuffed clams, which were moist and well seasoned, and feta cheese and stuffed grape leaves, a nice combination of flavors that was not too salty. For our main course, my companion decided on the red salmon fillet dinner, which comes with a choice of soup or salad, and two vegetables ($15.45), and she ordered the French onion soup that she declared "generous with the cheese, very flavorful". I was at first torn between the moussaka ($11.75) and eggplant parmigiana ($10.75), but then the broiled stuffed fillet of sole ($16.75) struck my fancy and, before I could change my mind again, I ordered. It came to me cooked to perfection with the sole enveloping a melt-in-your-mouth crab filling, and the portion size was large enough for two hearty meals. It was delicious.

We sampled four desserts, a moist carrot cake ($3.95), a coconut custard pie with a crunchy topping ($3.95), a light and creamy strawberry cheesecake ($4.35), and a smooth vanilla custard with sauce ($3.25) that was easily one of the best I've ever tasted. To end the evening, we each indulged in an international coffee ($7.00), a blend of black coffee, liqueur and whipped or ice cream. By then it was after 9:00 PM, and the diner was really filling up with customers as Steve told us it would. It was time for us to leave but, of course, we'll be back.

Court Square Diner, conveniently located in Long Island City, is a great place to meet and eat. A popular spot for both locals and tourists, it's just three stops away from Grand Central on the 7 train (you simply walk down the stairs and it's right in front of you), or the E, V or G will also get you there. Remember that you can ask for delivery, have a party catered, order a cake for a special occasion, or reserve the dining room for an event. The phone number to call is 718-392-1222. The fax is 718-392-1380. For all it can do so extraordinarily well, Court Square Diner is a shining star. COURT SQUARE DINER

45-30 23rd Street, Long Island City
718. 392. 1222

www.courtsquaredinerlic.com

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