It’s not often that I’m wowed at a steakhouse — there are so many, and they’re mostly interchangeable.
Christos Steak House in Astoria, Queens, commands attention. It serves a porterhouse very near the best specimens available in Manhattan. Appetizers and side dishes are also first-rate, and go well beyond steakhouse clichées.
As always, full disclosure: we dined here at the restaurant’s invitation and didn’t pay for our meal. But my endorsement of comped meals is no guarantee, as a few dismayed publicists will attest. My rave for Christos is genuine.
The restaurant was Christos Hasapo-Taverna originally; the name changed in 2006, after a remodeling job. Its Greek roots are still apparent in the appetizers, while the entrées and sides resemble those of a traditional steakhouse. Mina Newman is executive chef, sharing time with the Edison Ballroom in Manhattan. She has also worked at Layla and Dylan Prime, and won an episode of the cable series Chopped in 2009.
You’ll find all of the traditional cuts of prime beef (aged in-house for 21 days), along with the usual backup entrées (chicken, rack of lamb, salmon, etc.). In February, the restaurant added a number of lower-priced dishes to the menu, including—as the chef put it—“long forgotten cuts that butchers once reserved for themselves.”
So there’s a Callotte Steak (the deckle of the ribeye) at $22, a Bavette D’Aloyau (“where the t-bone ends and the sirloin begins”) at $21, skirt steak at $28 (or $52 for two), and “the Wedge” (a cross-section of filet, culotte, and tri-tip) at $25 per person — all aged prime.
For the more popular cuts, you’ll pay Manhattan prices, but you’ll get the Queens pricing curve on the rest of the menu. Salads and appetizers are $11–19 (most below $15). There’s a wide selection of side dishes, almost all $8. A few of the non-steak entrées look like notably good deals, such as the chicken ($19) and the pork chop ($22), but we didn’t sample them.
The wine list is not especially deep. You won’t leave thirsty, but you won’t find pages and pages of trophy Cabs and Bordeaux, as you do at some of the better-known Manhattan steakhouses.
I wish we could have tried more, but we loved both of the appetizers we sampled. The Lamb Cigar ($12; above left) is wrapped in fillo and served with a zesty roasted pepper yogurt sauce. The Lamb Bacon “Cobb” Salad ($12; above right) was delightful: tomato, bleu cheese, red onion, and avocado, topped with a soft poached egg.
We probably should have been less selfish, and tried the unusual cuts of beef. Instead, we went straight for the porterhouse ($94). We loved the husky crust and the dry-aged taste. The textural contrast between the strip side (bottom of the photo) and the filet side was more pronounced than I recall from other porterhouses, but none the worse for that.
Lobster mashed potatoes were offered as a special. It’s one of the more remarkable side dishes I’ve encountered: potatoes whipped with hefty chunks of lobster.
One might argue philosophically whether a good lobster ought to be camouflaged in such humble clothing. I mean, would you whip potatoes with Beluga caviar? All I can say is, it worked.
But it’s a $28 side dish, and I wouldn’t blame anyone for calling it extravagant.
Obviously, since we were known to the management we got excellent service, but as far as we could tell our server paid similar attention to the other tables. The space is comfortable, decked out in dark wood paneling, like many other steakhouses. Near the entrance, raw steaks are on display in glass cases, and I believe you can buy them to take home.
For city-dwellers, the only drawback of Christos is getting there: the closest subway stop is about a 15-minute walk away (the Astoria–Ditmars Boulevard stop, served by the N and Q trains). By car, it’s only a few minutes from the Queens side of the RFK (Triboro) Bridge, and valet parking is free.
Christos Steak House (41–08 23rd Avenue at 41st Street, Astoria, Queens)