>> Sunday, September 30, 2012
70-17 Austin Street
Forest Hills, NY 11375
When you live in New York City in general, but Queens in specific, the attitude is that when you want good Greek food, go to Astoria. There is always that lingering hope that if you luck out and happen to live near a Greek restaurant, it'll at least be good enough to save you a trek on the subway. I was hoping that Corfu would meet this basic hope. Sigh. Corfu did not.
Corfu sits on the upstairs level of the black mini-mall-type structure on Austin Street. There are a handful of outdoor seats which, I'm sure, are quite pleasant in hotter days. The interior is simple and cute, and indeed, was extremely comfortable. A few framed posters and Greek thingies decorate the wall and distract one's eyes from the massive Health Department in-case-of-choking poster. The tables and chairs are straight out of a diner and the booth-style seat along the wall couldn't have been less comfortable if it wanted to. But the staff was very friendly and very attentive.
Corfu follows the quantity over quality strategy of restaurants. Pike and I each ordered an entree and despite filling the plates to the point no more food could possibly fit on it, each dish came with a large salad and we were also given a plate of pita bread and yogurt. But one thing at a time. Appetizers. I ordered the Spinach Pie and Pike went with the Befteki. Both of these appetizers could either be split and served for two people or could be a meal in and of itself. The spinach pie, pureed spinach and feta cheese served in a filo dough crust was okay, but I've had better. And it's heavy. I got most of the way through one of them (there were two) and was ready to crawl into a ball and fall asleep. Pike's befteki was very, very good, on the other hand. But likewise, they served him way too much. It was easily a half pound if was an ounce of seasoned hamburger with pita bread to wrap it in. It cost less than $5. They could serve half as much and charge twice as much and people would still walk away happy.
After the appetizers, the pita bread, and don't forget a Greek Salad, we were stuffed. There was no need for the entrees to even exist. Still, before long, they arrived. Sadly the entrees just weren't very good. Pike ordered the Stuffed Calamari Plate, calamari stuffed with feta cheese, tomato, and garlic. Beside it were rice, potatoes, and a bean side dish. "I like the stuffing." Pike began to explain. "I like calamari, I like feta, and I like the garlicky tomatoes. But this just isn't great. The whole is worse than the sum of its parts." It didn't help, he added, that the calamari had been overcooked and was like trying to chew through a truck tire. I ordered the Broiled Filet of Bassa, sea bass in a garlic wine sauce. The fish itself was cooked to perfection. It was tender and moist. It also didn't taste like anything, though drowning the fish, nay the whole plate in that red wine sauce (which by the way I liked, but wanted way less of) didn't help. And again, there was just so much food. So much starch. Potatoes, rice, legumes. Pita bread. And none of it had much flavor. It was basically a dinner of red wine sauce, delivered via alternating variants of textured food product.
We didn't try dessert, so maybe they're fantastic, and maybe Corfu excels at more street-food things like gyros. Still, Pike and I wanted something a little different from the standards, and here I can't say that I'd choose Corfu over Agora Taverna, which really can do seafood and which doesn't bury you in cheap carbohydrates.
Our meal of appetizers, entrees, and diet cola came to $66 with tax and tip.