2016-04-20 / Restaurant of the Week

SVL BAR

SVL BAR opened around six months ago and gets its catchy name from the shorthand version of souvlaki. Since then, SVL BAR has been bustling, serving up the best tasting, freshest, juiciest, and healthiest souvlaki and gyros in town. The exuberant owners, Kostas Gurlakis and Peter Katsiaris, put their hearts and souls into creating their modern, chic eatery, whose sleek, red bar wraps around the open kitchen where all the magic happens. High top tables are topped in red and the whole place is lit by a modern chrome structure pendant light. This is high quality, yet casual eatery, reflecting a modern take on the cafes in Greece. Put your order in and it’s brought to you by the friendly staff. Wine and beer are coming soon and there are Greek soft drinks and effervescent spring water to enjoy as well.

Peter was born into the restaurant business and heads up the kitchen while the gregarious Kostas works the front, greeting patrons and ensuring that everyone has a pleasant experience. They specifically source as much locally grown meat and produce as possible and the proof is in the taste. Souvlaki are never cooked in advance, so a few minutes of patience is swiftly rewarded with juicy, tender pork, chicken, beef kebab, chicken wrapped in bacon (yay!), and fresh, garden vegetables for those avoiding meat.

While you wait, you must try horiatiki salad made with ripe tomatoes, cucumber, onion, peppers, capers, and a slab of creamy, imported feta cheese. The pretty metal bowls that the food is served in make for a beautiful presentation, along with warm triangles of grilled pita bread. An assortment of house made dips is a must too. Everything is made from scratch, so the hummus has a chunky texture that we loved and a bit of spice. The tzatziki sauce is made with Greek-style yogurt from a creamery in Long Island. Its texture and flavor are smooth and velvety and goes well with the souvlaki too. Spicy feta cheese dip called tyrokafteri is so good spread on warm pita, as is the eggplant dip, all made fresh each day.

A great way to sample a few of their signature gyros is to order “Mini Gyro Shots.” You’ll get four mini pitas stuffed with your choice of meat or vegetables, hand cut French fries, lettuce and tomato, all served in a clever metal holder, especially made for SVL BAR. Everyone’s favorite seems to be the pork gyro but we also loved the chicken, beef, and loukaniko sausage mini gyro. Of course full sized gyros come as a sandwich or on a plate with your choice of salad, rice, or hand cut fries for just $10.95.

Sticks are another great way to sample SVL BAR’s high quality meats. They’re sold individually for just $3.25 each and you can order as many as you like with chicken, bacon-wrapped chicken, beef kebab, pork, or vegetables and add one of their fabulous dipping sauces such as chipotle or house aioli for just 50 cents more. Best of all, they are cleverly presented in a metal hand shovel lined with brown paper.

SVL Signature burgers are a two-handed affair, made with freshly ground Angus beef, turkey, or Greek-style bifteki stuffed with Kefalograviera cheese. You choose all the elements to create your perfect burger. Order your favorite bun from a soft brioche, whole wheat bun, pretzel bun, or pita pocket. Then, add your favorite toppings such as cheddar cheese, Swiss, feta, goat cheese, bacon, onions, arugula, pickles or tomato. All the French fries at SVL BAR are hand cut from fresh potaoes. The Greek fries are addictive, sprinkled with sea salt, oregano, and crumbled feta cheese ($5.50). Everything at SVL is served hot, juicy, and fresh. The place is sparkling clean too, which is important.

SVL makes a decadent dessert combining delicious loukoumades, which are fried balls of dough, topped with Nutella, the chocolate-hazel nut spread from Italy. You’ll walk home after your meal, or you can order the healthier Greek yogurt topped with honey and walnuts.

SVL BAR is open seven days a week for lunch, dinner, or late night snack. In fact, this place is hopping on Friday and Saturday night when they’re open until 5:30am, with locals and commuters who’ve just come down from the N train just outside. The rest of the days, they’re open from 11am to 11pm. You can order on-line directly from their website or through Seamless. They will deliver fast and free and they’re also right on your way home from work. For the best gyro and souvlaki in town (and I’ve had a lot) visit SVL BAR!

30-18 Astoria Boulevard
Astoria, NY  718.406.9141

www.svlbarnyc.com

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