Sanford’s was taken over by the Karelelas children in the mid 90s after their father had owned the place for 20 years. For 50 or so years before that, it was a mainstay in the community as a ’round the clock diner. Walking inside, you would never guess that it A) had ever been a diner and B) would be the kind of place that would be open all day long. Usually these kind of hours are reserved for greasy spoon-ish type places with a breakfast laden menu and cheap-as-hell prices.
They keep the prices pretty low, but this ain’t your daddy’s diner food.
One thing that I have to admit here is that I was coming down with the sniffles as I arrived at Sanford’s. I ordered a tea and Gus was noticeably disheartened by my state. He is a huge beer hound and had some impressive stuff to show me, and I’ll admit, I wished I was feeling better because there are few things in this world that I love more than free beer.
That being said, we were off to the races with apps: Butternut Squash Ravioli (above), Grilled Calamari (pic), and a Tuna Tartar (pic – that was the one that I took), and Florentine Spring Rolls (pic).
The ravioli: creamy, smooth, butternut-squashy goodness with slivered toasted almonds. It was a death sentence for me. I ate as much of this dish as Dave let me. My favorite app. The calamari: I’ve never had grilled calamari that I liked before today. I looked at it and thought “here we go again, another guy wants me to try his rubbery calamari and smile like he didn’t overcook it.” It wasn’t overcooked, it was just right. I was stunned. We had a conversation about overcooked calamari, and Gus doesn’t let the rubbery stuff out of his kitchen. The tuna tartar: I would have liked a little less of the soy ginger sauce on the tuna, but the quality of the tuna was top notch. It’s their best seller, so it’s always fresh. Something is wrong with my palate tonight … The florentine spring rolls: spinach pie egg rolls on a diet. The phyllo dough is light and crispy, you’ll feel like you’re using half your points on these.
Dave’s entrÃ©e was the Grilled Hangar Steak (above) that was served with quite complimentary mushroom ravioli. This was my favorite bite of the meal. The creamy mushroom sauce and precisely medium rare steak absolutely won my heart. Coming here, I would order this over and over again, not considering another entrÃ©e, maybe ever. This is weird, because Dave and I had different perspectives on this:
The grapefruit-sized Pork Osso Bucco (pic): a fantastic example of the price-to-quality hereat $18, and the main course that took home Dave’s blue ribbon . This was the most impressive looking thing on the menu. I’d mentioned it was weird because I thought it was a bit salty. Dave didn’t, and less than 24 hours later , I had this same experience (with saltiness). I might be a bit delusional about being the supreme lord of saltiness judges. The consistency, flavor, and overall experience of this dish was just great. It’s one of those items that when you see it being delivered to the table with the orders, you hope it’s yours.
For dessert: Molten Chocolate Cake (right) and Banana Caramel Cheesecake Xangos (pic). I didn’t know what these things were, but I wanted them in my belly. It’s basically a chimichanga filled with cheesecake and banana purÃ©e, drizzled in caramel and served with whipped cream. You figure out a way to fry cheesecake and you’ve got my vote in whatever race you’re running. This stuff was the bomb. Seriously. Fried Cheesecake. Needs no more description. After a bite of the Xango, I knew the molten chocolate cake wouldn’t stand the superior dessert down. If you don’t like bananas, this isn’t a bad second choice.
Where are you going to get food like this served for 24 hours? Certainly nowhere else in Queens. Sanford’s wins my Best Spot to Eat after 11 award for the borough. A can’t miss dinner here: butternut squash ravioli app, hangar steak entrÃ©e, and fried cheesecake for dessert.
I think you’ll like what the brothers have done to the place.
The IRL Arts Foundation and The Wandering Foodie thank Sanford’s for providing this meal.
Astoria, NY 11106