Agnanti meze was founded in December 2002 in Astoria, the heart of the Greek culture in New York. This family oriented restaurant, offers an outdoor patio in the summer overlooking Astoria Park, and a cozy atmosphere with a fireplace in the winter.
What a surprise. Many times I've jogged past this small corner restaurant, next to Astoria Park, just a block from the river, and almost a mile from the last stop on the N train...I thought it looked quaint, quiet. I convinced V to walk down there to dinner on Saturday night, not expecting a wait, let alone a crowd. As we approached the restaurant, I thought there was some kind of emergency because there were so many people congregating outside. As it turns out, Agnanti is a hot spot! The space is small, probably seating 50 max, and there is no bar area, so if you're waiting for a table, you're waiting outside. The crowd was diverse: older couples, families, and an odd number of pregnant women, I think there were three at one table.
I was happy we decided to go and the food was great, but there were a few downsides to our experience. First, I was lucky V was willing to wait with me for a table. We stood outside for at least an hour. Our name was never on a list, the hostess just knew what order to seat people.
Things got off to a better start once we were seated. I figured out it was a Greek restaurant (I couldn't tell by the name or decor, and there wasn't a menu outside). We ordered a few appetizers and smaller items instead of main entrees, starting with Saganaki. This is a traditional Greek cheese baked in a dish and served with a lemon wedge. You just eat it, and it was very good, and very cheesy. You can't go wrong there. We followed that up with Mushrooms Kalitsounia, homemade dough wrapped around mushrooms and herbs. These were amazing. Kind of like little raviolis, they were hot, crispy, creamy, and salty all at the same time (sounds familiar).
I then had an order of mussels which were seasoned with a white wine sauce and sprinkled with feta cheese. They were great, and a nice dish to take your time eating and enjoying. I shared a few with V, but she was busy enjoying the swordfish, which was a little dry, but flaky and really very steak-like. It was quite good. Both were reasonably priced too. I found it surprising that the seafood was less expensive than the meat and poultry dishes.
So all the food was great. The odd thing was the service. We waited forever to get in and then our food was brought out so quickly we felt rushed. Perhaps because we were one of the last seatings, the kitchen was closing down. Then, after our rushed meal, our server never came around to see how things were, offer coffee or dessert, or even the check! We waited another half hour before flagging someone else down to get the bill. Then after paying, by credit card, they told us to tip in cash. I needed to make change to leave a proper tip, but the server never came by again...I felt bad leaving a measly tip, but there wasn't anything I could do. The food was good enough that I'll give Agnanti another try. Next time I'll make a reservation, and hope for the best.