August 22, 2017

Another Astoria institution expanding to Manhattan.

This 54 year old institution located at 30-13 Steinway street in Astoria has been keeping the locals happy with top notch pizza and now it’s time for the city to get a turn. A new branch will open this spring at 17 Clinton Street in Manhattan.

I spy Astoria @ The Astor Room

It’s Wednesday and that means “Pine Island oysters and Stella from 5pm – 7pm at The Astor Room, all for the low low low low price of$15! I could probably stop right here but then it wouldn’t be a blog post would it.

This could be one of those nights that you talk about at the end of summer. To quote my friend Mark “You’re gonna have to roll me outta there”. Mark is smart, full of “one liners” and hungry. The kind of good buddy you look for when planning a gluttonistic (?) night out. Heck, I might even be a generous type and pay. Nothing like looking good for cheap. And by the way, if you miss it tonight you can always try again next Wednesday or the one after that.

I spy Astoria food scene

Let’s talk about restaurants. First off let me say that, Yes, I am a chef and yes the food matters. BUT it is not all about the food. It is not the scene or the atmosphere or the “farm to table” thing that does it for me. You too(?) perhaps. It is the people who really make it.

Our local restaurants here in Astoria really stand out in this category. These are the places I have started writing about and will continue to share more stories in the coming months. Many of our best places are run by people who care more about more than the bottom line. These people are part of the community. They work in the “Arts” or do community work. Others simply put their life and love into every dish that comes out of the kitchen. That is why your food tastes so good. A few names come to mind here. Evan at the Queens Kickshaw, Chris at The Astor room and Piccola Venezia, Gary at Bistro 33 and William Hallet, Natasha at Bear, Darren at Il Bambino, Michelle at Sugar Freak. Good people, family people, community people. And oh yeah, their food kicks ass and can make your swoon.

I spy Astoria @ Sac’s Place

Dear Jonathan, We’ve been going to our farm in Pennsylvania twice a week to hand-pick fruit, vegetables & herbs. We’ve been featuring fresh produce (tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, squash, peaches, plums, parsley and basil) in many of our daily specials for the past few weeks and will continue to do so as long as the harvest lasts. It really is a great time of year to be creative and experiment with delicious, home-grown products and we would like to invite everyone to come and share the goodness with us.

We also are featuring live music twice a week. On Mondays, The Larry Luger Trio plays jazz and on Tuesdays, The New Standards Trio plays contemporary standards and old favorites. Both nights are a great deal of fun (and we encourage people to get up and sing).

I Spy Astoria @ Ovelia

Looks like we have a new celeb in the ‘hood. Chef Pete over at Ovelia on 30th avenue / 34th street was recently interviewed by E! for a show and qualified to the last round for a new ABC show w Anthony Bourdaine (we hope he gets the gig). Pete was also featured in last week’s episode of Mike Colameco’s Real Food “Pig Island”

As for us locals, we get to enjoy Pete’s non acting skills every time we sit down at Ovelia.

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.

I Spy Astoria Food News

There’s a lot going on in the ‘hood these days.

Walking up 30th avenue last week one couldn’t help but notice the smell of smoke in the air. Heavenly meat smoker smoke. Our noses led us to an open door at the still under construction Butcher bar. They were testing recipes and the owner invited us in. Mathew introduced us to the chef and a bunch of guys standing at the counter wolfing down, I mean delicately tasting, a variety of smoked bbq products. We sampled burnt ends that were very juicy and tender, brined turkey which had a gentle deliciousness and finally bbq brisket which made me smile even though the chef was unhappy with this particular test specimen. The house made bbq sauce was pretty darn good too. If you need to know more then I guess you might want to know that the place looks good too. Lots of wood and diamond plate, butcher stuff and a nice backyard. There are seats inside and out back. Honestly, if the meat proves to be as good as the test then who cares about the decor.

Eating Peru one chicken at a time


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When I need my Rotisserie chicken fix there is only one way to go. Peruvian style with a lot of cilantro sauce on the side. Where to go is another question. Living in Queens, New York offers up many places to find such fare but if you want the mother lode head on over to Jackson Heights. Specifically on Northern blvd. and Roosevelt ave from 76th to 90th streets. There you will find Peruvian restaurants serving up the best ceviche, seafood, whole roast chickens and the most amazingly chartreuse green cilantro sauce poured from large pitchers into glasses and placed on the table along with your meal. This stuff is crack in a cup.

Got my Sugarfreak in Astoria


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I first stumbled on SugarFreak in Astoria about a year ago. They were only a quirky interior then, but recently they opened their New Orleans-influenced culinary doors to the world. Here’s my story of a recent visit.

I Spy Astoria


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Location: 30th avenue Astoria, New York Food update for March 26th 2011 Coming soon we can expect to see a restaurant featuring Southern food from the Louisiana region.  I hear that there will be some pretty amazing baked goods and desserts happening there so get your insulin lined up. The rumor mill is buzzin’ about […]

Can’t a guy just order a bagel the way he wants?


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Warning:  If you hate bagel scoopers, do not read this post.  You may hate me for it.  I will still like you though. I took my son to Brooklyn Bagels on Broadway by 35th street in Astoria this morning.  It’s my favorite local spot for a classic New York bagel.  The bagels have a great […]

Pho a good time, Pho Bang


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The bowls are served in minutes and come with lots of good stuff to add on your own. A mound of bean sprouts, basil, mint and lemon wedges. You add whatever you like and then squeeze on some condiments such as Hoisin sauce, red wine vinegar and a choice of hot sauces. I prefer the house chili sauce and JB like the Sirachi.

LA Burdick: Hot Chocolate for Adults


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Inspired, I purchased a bar of LA Burdick’s dark chocolate. This would be a special dessert for my wife later on that night. I spent the next few hours finishing my errands and thinking about what to serve for dinner. A simple and light meal to balance out the dessert I had planned would work best. I made a stop at the cheese shop and green market.