2017-01-11 / Restaurant of the Week


It doesn’t get much cozier than the dining room at Café Olé Restaurant. For seven years, Café Olé Restaurant has been serving Spanish tapas and entrees, fine wines, sangria, cocktails and beer to its patrons, many of whom come from nearby attractions. Located on 36th Avenue, close to the movie theaters, the Museum of the Moving Image, and Kaufman Astoria Studios, Café Olé is the perfect place for a leisurely lunch, weekend brunch, or an intimate dinner before or after your outing.

The soothing, cozy décor will warm you, along with a glass of their popular champagne sangria, traditional sangria or a cocktail from the tidy bar. Silky curtains, exposed brick walls, and tile floors highlight the crisp, white table linens and built-in wine racks. Alex Nava, your friendly host, and the expert staff tend to your every need.

They’ll uncork a bottle of wine while you peruse the tempting tapas or appetizers. Alex suggested the grilled octopus, and it couldn’t have been more tender and juicy, presented in a sizzling hot cast iron skillet. The shrimp in garlic sauce disappeared as we soaked up every drop of the garlicky sauce with warm, toasted bread ($12.95). Another popular choice is the stuffed mushrooms, filled with shrimp, crabmeat and savory breadcrumbs in a heavenly sauce. Stuffed red peppers are filled with crabmeat and mango while the jamon con queso is the perfect sliced ham and cheese tapa. Little Neck clams, Blue Point oysters or shrimp cocktail can be enjoyed at the bar as a tapa, or at your table before your main course.

Paella, the national dish of Spain, is the most popular dish here. Made for two or more people, the Paella Valenciana is the perfect mélange of saffron-infused rice with plump shrimp, clams, mussels, calamari, chunks of chicken, and chorizo sausage. Paella Marinera is a seafood festival with lobster in addition to the rest, minus the chicken and sausage. Whole stuffed lobster is available every night, packed with crabmeat, shrimp, calamari and breadcrumbs, then broiled to a golden finish. A simple dish called Shrimp Café Olé steams shrimp and tomato with mushrooms over saffron rice and seasonal vegetables.

I devoured a beautifully presented platter of sautéed red snapper fillet with caper lemon sauce, served on a mound of freshly whipped potatoes, and sautéed spinach ($28.95). There’s also meaty salmon with a fragrant green parsley and garlic sauce, or broiled Atlantic salmon, simply seasoned and served with rice and vegetables for a light, healthy meal.

Meat lovers will delight in the filet mignon with mushroom sauce, which practically cuts with a fork, or the grilled skirt steak with mashed potatoes and vegetables. My carnivorous companion dug into a juicy sirloin steak, cooked just the way he asked. This steak had wonderful flavor and texture and was nicely presented with sautéed onions and red peppers, mashed potatoes and vegetables. The lamb chops will wait for another visit and one can always indulge in Café Olé’s surf and turf.

While we chatted between courses, Nava told us about his next restaurant opening just next door. “El Mero Mero” is Mexican slang for “The Best.” His new restaurant will open in February serving inexpensive, authentic food from his native Pueblo, Mexico. He gave us a sneak peak of the work in progress and I just can’t wait to check it out as soon as it opens. The cool interior has a unique bar that will serve several types of mescal and tequila and the menu he spoke about sounded great.

Back at Café Olé, our kind waiter brought homemade tres leches cake, a cool, creamy confection made with three types of milk, giving it its name. They offer homemade tiramisu, cheesecake, and flan, and the espresso is really good. Of course, you can have a coffee with Kahlua or Tia Maria liqueur in it to finish your fine meal.

Take a break from the stress of your week with a meal at Café Olé Restaurant. It’s down the block from the movie theatre and museum and close to the R and N trains. Weekend reservations are suggested, as this popular place fills up quickly. They are open for lunch, dinner, and brunch from 12 noon to 11pm on weeknights and midnight on weekends. Visit their pretty website for mouthwatering photos and menus. Put a little fiesta in your life at Café Olé Restaurant.

38-09 36th Avenue
Astoria  718.349.7777

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