April 24, 2014

I spy Astoria & LIC

Wednesday night was the Edible Queens Uncorked event at The Foundry in LIC, NY.  So much food, so much wine and so little time.  Let’s focus on the highlights and big news from the evening.

The event was hosted by Leah McLaughlin, the wonderfully personable and charming owner of Edible Queens.  Leah is a true believer in all things Queens and might be the borough’s biggest booster.

Now for the news.

  • Alobar located at 46-42 Vernon Blvd in Long Island City will be opening in two weeks.  I met Chef Ian who was serving up Chorizo Pork & Beans plus a very original Duck Sloppy Joe.  This guy knows meat and old fashioned comforting foods done right with a chef’s vision.  Expect the place to be a real local “Hang out”.  Communal seating, comfy booths, open kitchen and a kick ass bar with craft beers.  Chef Ian discussed whole animals getting broken down to primal cuts and frequent specials based on seasonality.  We went back to their table three times for more food.
  • Bear located at 12-14 31at avenue in Astoria opens November 11th!  Braised duck and pear plus a lemoncello infused seafood ceviche!  Hell yeah, good stuff.  Chef Natasha was manning the station along with partner and brother Alex.  The chef was alluring and giddy when talking about her food and the new restaurant.  Her resume certainly sets her above most and we will be expecting much from her in what promises to be a new jewel in the Astoria dining scene.  We already have reservations for opening night.  Hope to see you there.  Check out the menu!
  • Astoria’s very own The Queens Kickshaw was represented tonight by the three biggies.  Owners Jennifer and Ben along with Chef Evan.  They were smiling away and serving up squares of 3 cheese mac n cheese along with a variety of Miso-Mustard Pickles.  Each pickled vegetable was on a long wood skewer and set in vases front and center.  Don’t forget to check in with them about music events and seasonal menu changes.
  • Manducatis Rustica gets a special mention here for three reasons.  1. Chef owner Gianna is such a pleasure.  2. The meatballs have a secret ingredient (raisins) that lend a dark richness.  These are not any old meatballs and I will be ordering the next time we go there.  3.  Her homemade Brunello wine was outstanding and perhaps superior to many other wines offered that night at the event.  Thank you Gianna.
  • Astor Bake shop is something special.  Every time I learn something new.  Tonight we sampled more of his, as usual, delicious pastry creations.  But did you know George also has a regular menu and offers up an award winning burger?  Someone next to me informed us that Astor Bake shop has some of the best coffee around.  Who knew a pastry guy could offer more than desserts?  Go for the coffee but stay for a meal.
  • I hate LIC Market!  These people kill me.  The restaurant is perfect.  Simple, charming and friendly yet also refined and serious.  Chef owner Alex Schindler gets it right with superb locally sourced foods prepared in minimal New American farm house style (my words, not his).  The staff, decor and little touches truly make for a wonderful experience.  Now for the event.  While other tables were serving up hot foods from chafers, LIC Market served up one cool dish.  Wild Rice & Butternut Squash Pancake served with tobikko creme fraiche.  Looked Indian, tasted sushiesque (?) with a cool white sauce. So clean so good so perfect.  I hate these people.  Too bad he’s such a nice guy.
  • Ovelia was in the house with all three owners serving up great tasting food. The boys had some news.  December 1st is their five year anniversary!  Not sure what they are planning yet but we should all stop by and congratulate them.  Secret news is that the master Greek chef who started the kitchen is still with them.  This chef also happens to be dad to two of the owners.

That’s it folks.  Our little town is getting bigger and better every day.  Who loves Queens?  We do.