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MYRTOS

196-29 Northern Blvd.

Flushing 357-6596

If good wishes bring success in the restaurant business, then Myrtos in Flushing has it made. On display, there are 51 tall, green, leafy plants sporting wide red ribbons with the word "Success" emblazoned in gold.

A good location never hurts either. This new Greek regional restaurant on Northern Boulevard is diagonally across from St. Nicholas, a Greek Orthodox church. The well- wishers include members of St. Nicholas, friends, relatives and business associates.

I like the look of Myrtos tremendously. For starters, it's easy to spot with both the American and the blue-and-white Greek flag unfurled outside. White walls and dark wood, blue and white plaid cloths, straight-backed chairs and polished wood floors, gives its interior the look and feel of a spacious Greek taverna.

The side sans windows has 4-by-4 foot photos of seaside scenes, and, of course, there is fresh seafood on display in a small case. It's tradition. The bar area is strategically screened from view through the placement of plants. Likewise, there are more plants located at the entrance, effectively softening the view of a busy Northern Boulevard. Myrtos is drenched in sunlight at lunchtime, again creating a taverna effect. It's most effective.

And at night when the music plays, it's easy to imagine dancers with white handkerchiefs held aloft doing the "kaiamatianos."

During a luncheon visit I had the regional favorite, "giouvetsi" a mouth-watering, herb-flavored, chunk lamb stew served over orzo, the rice-shaped grains of pasta. It was served with a soup spoon and was a fine example of Greek regional cuisine. Meat pies with phyllo are another treat to look for on the menu. And, of course, there's the love of all Greek restaurant goers - the whole broiled fish-red snapper, sea bass and porgies - and Myrtos does its own superb version.

Cold appetizers at Myrtos include: lima beans oven roasted with fresh tomatoes; carrots and herbs; grape leaves stuffed with rice and herbs; and all the dips (potato and garlic, yogurt and garlic and cucumber, fish roe eggplant) that make Greek dining a treat. Hot appetizers at Myrtos include highlights such as fried spiced meatballs and oven baked feta cheese and shrimp with herbs.

While on a dinner visit, we were surprised to discover that rabbit, thought listed as available on a restaurant blackboard, was not in fact available that day.       

Therefore, our dinner began with the Greek sausage sauteed in wine sauce, and it was good but salty. The hot appetizers listed many favorites: the fried sharp cheese with lemon; feta cheese with shrimp and herbs baked in the oven; sauteed sweet breads in wine and lemon sauce; and sauteed calf's liver in wine and lemon sauce. We had the special: huge (really huge) shrimp sauteed with fresh tomatoes and herbs.

In lieu of the rabbit, my dining companion chose chicken and shrimp (little ones marinated in a secret sauce, grilled and served with rice pilaf.) Soup or salad goes with this entree, but we had to request the salad. I had sliced, garlic-roasted leg of lamb with lemon and white wine, a treat that I seem to find only in Greek restaurants these days. As a side dish I ordered spinach with rice, a great combo, that is particularly good with lamb.

Dessert time meant baklava and the baked custard in phyllo, probably my favorite of the Greek pastries. Desserts are made right there. At luncheon I was informed, "Baklava, baked custard in phyllo and rice pudding." "Anything else?" "No, just three, but they are all excellent."

The rice pudding, doused with cinnamon, is the top stove variety. It is a comfort food here or there. And don't forget to check out the number of congratulatory plants, with or without a red bow. May they bring success.

THE BOTTOM LINE

Greek regional food. Spacious taverna setting. Private parties to 125. Valet parking weekends.

CHEF'S CHOICE

Oktapodaki (grilled octopus with lemon & olive oi1)...$ 7.95

Kalamarakia Tiganita (fresh baby squid, pan-fried and seasoned with lemon)... $5.95

Skordalia (potato and garlic dip)...$2.95

Paidakia Arnisia (char-broiled lamb chops, seasoned with lemon, oregano and olive oil)...$14.50

Kotopoulo Kebob (marinated chicken breast with tomatoes, onions and peppers )...$9.95

Spanakororizo (spinach and rice)...$4.95

Fat free yogurt with honey and nuts ...$3.50

Rice pudding ... Greek style)...$3.50

Galactobouriki...$3.50

Food: Greek regional

Setting: Spacious Greek taverna

Service: Good

Reservations: Yes

Parking: Lot in rear. Valet on weekends

Location: One block west of Francis Lewis Boulevard

Dress: Casual

Credit cards: All major, except Discover

Children: Share

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