Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Earth Friendly Restaurants in Astoria

Happy Earth day, Astoria!  To celebrate this important day, I've given thought to the eco-friendly restaurants in the neighborhood that do Mother Earth proud.  If you have a chance to visit these today, please do, and patronize their business.  What are some of your eco-friendly haunts?


Vesta & Pachanga Patterson - These guys aren't shy about their restaurant's mission, which is to provide their patrons an experience that's inspired by the local greenmarket, giving preference to everything that's fresh and in season.  I like that they often tell you where their ingredients come from, including the specific farms and their locales.  Vesta - 21-02 30th Avenue, Astoria. 718.545.5550.  Pachanga Patterson - 33-17 31st Avenue, Astoria. 718.554.0525

Image by The Brooklyn Grange Farm

Brooklyn Grange Farm - Despite its deceiving name, Brooklyn Grange Farm is located in LIC, boasting "the world's largest rooftop soil farms," growing over 50,000 pounds of organic produce.  A direct supporter of the farm itself, I've been up there on several occasions and have patronized them through their CSA program.  There's always an abundance of something delicious, and the folks who run it are open and welcoming to new volunteers.  That's right, you can even have a go at urban farming yourself!  37-18 Northern Blvd, LIC. 347.670.3660


BareBurger - Everyone who's been to BareBurger can vouch for their environmentally friendly approach, which not only extends to its locally sourced food, including organic meat, but also the eco-chic decor.  It's not uncommon to encounter whimsy embellishments such as light fixtures built out of reused knives, forks and spoons, reclaimed wood tabletops, and the quintessential recycled tin sliding door.  33-21 31st Avenue, Astoria. 718.777.7011, 23-01 31st Street, Astoria. 718.204.7167


Milkflower
- One of my recent restaurant faves, Milkflower also supports green business practices.  I love that their interior is adorned with refurbished accents such as reclaimed wood paneled walls, tables made of old police dividers, benches made of recycled burlap and more.  Their wood fired pizza doesn't suck either.  Mmmm... 34-12 31st Avenue, Astoria. 718.204.1300

Monday, April 21, 2014

Sparrow's Bifteki Burger is Bangin'



Visiting Sparrow Tavern is always a pleasure, and I'm visibly excited whenever anyone suggests it.  Saturday night was Meg's choice, as we went in for an early dinner before heading out to our friend Mackenzi's party, which was also lots of fun.

Food:
For all you Sparrow heads, you won't be surprised to learn that the their classic burger was ordered by Dan, but I veered from the usual by getting the Bifteki burger.  Trying this a few years ago, I forgot that it's technically a sandwich rather than a burger, which was A-OK in the end, given its deliciousness.

Bifteki Burger - While the name of this burger insinuates that it's Greek, which is true, you'd think the meat would be made of lamb, but it's actually beef.  What makes it Greek is the seasoning of fresh mint, soft, creamy manouri cheese and tangy tzatziki sauce.  The crusty baguette that hugs its insides makes it delightful--a perfect vehicle for getting all that savory goodness into your mouth.  A classic Sparrow accouterment is the side of fries, which gives it more of a burger feel.  Never disappointing, the fries came out crispy and beautiful, adoring a sprinkling of that fragrant rosemary I love so much.

Service and Cost:
While I can't boast about the service (maybe I've been having bad luck lately), it doesn't warrant a serious complaint. Our waitress was nice enough but seemed a bit distracted or just busy on a bustling Saturday night.

Costs are moderate and even a bit expensive for burger fare, but totally worth it for all that flavor and deliciousness.  Dinner set us back about $30/person including tax and tip.

3 Mmmms


Sparrow - 24-01 29th Street, Astoria New York 11102
718.606.2260

N/Q Train to Astoria Blvd

www.thesparrowtavern

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Mac 'n Cheese Burger Success - Service Abysmal




Since writing about the 4/20 Munchathon on Friday, I had one thing on my mind and one thing only - the almighty Mac 'n Cheese burger.  This unapologetically gluttonous dish, which is so appropriate for the occasion had both Dan and me wondering how its legend would live up to the hype.  Luckily, we were there to experience it first hand, and I'm happy to report back that it didn't disappoint.  Sadly, what did disappoint deeply was the service, to the point of being unacceptable.  But first...this bodacious burger.

Mac 'n Cheese Burger - The idea behind this burger was ingenious.  No doubt modeled by Keizo Shimamoto's ramen burger, Snowdonia's version entailed a fluffy mac 'n cheese bun croquette that sandwiched a juicy burger patty.  It sounded too good to be true, but the execution didn't fall short of anything less than delicious.  The mac 'n cheese portion was perfectly crispy on the outside and gooey on the inside.  While it served as a nice companion to the burger, it was hard to take a bite of the two at the same time, as the mac 'n cheese bun was quite thick. Instead, we ate it all prim and proper with a fork and knife, thus, savoring every bite.  Since it was so extravagantly indulgent, taking the sharing route was a great approach, even though probably a heresy as far as 4/20 behavior is concerned.

Service and Cost:
As I hinted above, our service was terrible, almost embarrassing.  While I waited for about 15 minutes just to get my pre-ordered drink, our waitress completely forgot it and then callously brought it over without acknowledging what happened.  I also found it unacceptable and downright offensive when our waitress physically pushed me out of the way while I waited my turn for the restroom.  A simple "excuse me," would've done the trick, and I was puzzled as to why I was treated with such disrespect.  Further adding insult to injury, we used a buy one get one draft beer coupon, which was downright unrecognized.  Instead of buying us a drink and apologizing, we were simply handed the bill and informed that the coupon wasn't applied.  I can go on further, but I think you get the point.


Costs are fair, given the uniqueness of the food and the variety of cocktails and beers.  We paid a total of $53 for about 4 drinks, hummus fries and that godly burger.  No tip left or deserved.

2 Mmmms

Snowdonia - 34-55 32nd Street, Astoria NY 11106
347.730.5783
N/Q Train to 36th Avenue
snowdoniapub.com

Friday, April 18, 2014

4/20 Munchies in Astoria

Yes...with 4/20 on the way, which happens to fall on the same day as Easter, an abundance of munchies will no doubt satiate a voracious appetite.  Here are a few unapologetic munchie treats engineered by Astoria's finest:

Image by Snowdonia

Snowdonia's Mac 'n Cheese Burger - No doubt inspired by Keizo Shimamoto's Ramen Burger, Snowdonia's Mac 'n Cheese Burger is a little different, but totally intriguing - and will debut its holy cheesiness this Sunday at 4:20 p.m.  What can be more indulgent than a juicy burger sandwiched between two fried cheesy pasta croquettes in the shape of burger buns?! In addition to this delicacy, they have a slew of other munchtacular food options, which all roll into a Sunday afternoon event they're calling the Munchathon.  Don't mind if I do... 34-55 32nd Street, Astoria. 718.730.5783

Image by Scoutmob

Burger Bistro's Dougnut Burger - Yes, you heard right, this Astoria newcomer offers their burgers between two fluffy halves of a glazed doughnut, which is all sorts of ridiculous but quite perfect for this indulgent date and time.  I hear that their Buffalo tater tots aren't too shabby either. 37-03 31st Avenue, Astoria. 347.808.8454

Image by Queens Comfort

Queens Comfort's Atomic Attack - Known for their inventive and sometimes crazy foods, "atomic" seems to be the keyword this week, as these guys are featuring three kinds of foods that are en fuego.  The first are the Atomic Disco tots with cheddar and sriracha sawmill gravy; followed by Atomic Fireballs aka deep fried mac 'n cheese balls with sriracha; and lastly the full shebang Atomic Mac 'n Cheese. 40-09 30th Avenue, Astoria. 718.728.2350

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Easter in Astoria


It's a big week with Easter and Passover both here, and with that come lots of festivities featuring delicious food and drink.  Although you may already have plans with friends and family, here are a few thought starters on how you may want to celebrate it in Astoria.

Koliba - My beloved Slovak restaurant always offers something special for Easter, and I was delighted to check out their special menu just for this occasion.  I love it because it's both decadent and affordable (veggie diners may want to sit this one out).  31-11 23rd Avenue, Astoria. 718.626.0430

La Guli - You can always count on La Guli to have the best Easter candy in stock, including these beautifully colorful chocolate eggs (pictured above).  They remind me of the hand crafted folk confections I'd see in my native, Slovakia.  29-15 Ditmars Blvd, Astoria. 718.728.5612

Martha's Country Bakery - Martha's is another must as far as baked goods go.  Their medium and large sized hollow chocolate eggs are already at the bakery while their specialty Easter cupcakes and cookies will make their debut this weekend.  Can't wait! 36-21 Ditmars Blvd, Astoria. 718.545.9737

Front Toward Enemy - Although they don't have a special Easter menu per se, their weekend Punch Brunch will very much be in order, with an unlimited morning cocktail punch option.  Check out their brunch specialties menu.  40-11 30th Avenue, Astoria. 718.545.2269

Zenon Taverna - In their traditional style, Zenon is starting the Easter celebration early with a late night dinner on Saturday night that goes until 3 a.m. A special menu of Cypriot foods sounds delightful and includes items such as Magiritsa, Trahana and a Roasted Leg of Lamb.  See full menu here.  34-10 31st Avenue, Astoria. 718.956.0133


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Brunch and More at M. Wells

Image via Yelp, Ciprian T.

Just in time for Spring, M.Wells Steakhouse and M.Wells Dinette are rolling out some festive food activities that'll surely inspire us to get out of the house.

M.Wells Steakhouse Brunch:
Starting this Sunday April 20th, enjoy brunch service from 11:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.

M.Wells Dinette Specialties:
Enjoy a few of these deliciously indulgent specialty items available for pick up this coming Sunday and ready to put on your Easter table.  To receive these in time, make sure to place your order by this Friday the 18th by 4 p.m.

Rabbit Royale … $101
Whole rabbit, with the legs roasted, the shoulders confites and the rĂ¢ble stuffed with foie gras. Asparagus and ramps in a morel sauce included.

Eat-All-Day Pie … $50
Classic 9" chess pie is piled high with cookies, chocolate cream eggs, macaroons, liquor-soaked ladyfingers and more.

Maple Pie … $40
The pie that speaks for itself (pictured above). Serves 6 to 8 people.

M.Wells Dinette - 22-25 Jackson Avenue, LIC 11101
718.786.1800
7 Train to 45th Road, Courthouse Square
magasinwells.com

M.Wells Steakhouse - 43-15 Crescent Street, LIC 11101
718.786.9060
E Train to Court Square
magasinwells.com

Monday, April 14, 2014

Chocolate Caramel Passover Matzoh





Given that Passover starts tonight, and we're about to go to our first night's Seder, I wanted to spread some festivities through sharing a homemade chocolate caramel matzoh recipe.  Also known as Matzoh candy, this easy-to-make and fun-to-assemble dish is always a hit, so I made a lot of extra and packed it in some to-go boxes as well.

Originally spotting the recipe on Smitten Kitchen, it can be made with Matzoh or even just regular crackers when it's not Passover.  The homemade caramel is super easy to make, as all you need is good quality unsalted butter and brown sugar.  After you pour this on to the matzoh (I used whole wheat Streit's matzoh), you then sprinkle on the chocolate and get creative with your toppings.  My embellishments of choice included chopped pistachios, candied coconut, festive sprinkles and chopped Heath bar crunch.  You can use anything else that strikes your fancy, such as dried fruit M&M's, sea salt, etc - get creative!

Hope you find this easy recipe from Smitted Kitchen handy, and do let me know about the unique combinations you come up with.  Happy Passover, everyone!

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