Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Bistro 33 - Superb Food and Service Save the Day!

Bistro 33 - 19-33 Ditmars Blvd, Astoria, NY 11105
N/W Train to Ditmars Blvd (last stop)

This was my second visit to Bistro and besides being impressed, I wholeheartedly support the way they run their business--and treat their customers. I came here as part of a double-date foursome on a Saturday night. Needless to say, Bistro was busy and we had to wait long--but they took such great care of us that we're already looking forward to going back (and soon).

Bistro exudes simplicity and un-pretentiousness. And although the place is very small, seating around 20-25 people, you don't feel cramped--the floor to ceiling windows also help, giving the place a very open and inviting feel.

The dining room consists of small wooden tables mostly for two and some for larger parties. There is a cool little nook in the front left corner that provides more privacy--and from a design perspective, it looks serene, facing a hand-painted wall with falling leaves.

Bistro 33 is run by classically trained chefs from the French Culinary Institute--and it shows. The food is not only superb tasting, it's presented impeccably and offers a fusion of French and Japanese cuisine.

We got to sample a bit of everything, as the girls went for the sushi and the guys got the hearty meat dishes. Here's what we feasted on:

Crawfish Tempura: This was a complimentary starter that was offered to us while waiting for our table. We were pleasantly surprised at this offering and especially at its generous portion. The crawfish was crispy and spicy--not so much that you had to wash it down with wine or water, but just enough to get the tastebuds working. It was perfect and scarily addicting--I highly recommend it for a starter.

Corn Soup: Veggie soups get a bad rap for being bland but not this one! This creamy concoction included roasted sweet corn, red bell peppers and crispy prosciutto. Dan and I shared it because it was so hearty, but we both secretly wished we got our own. The texture was luxurious yet chunky and the prosciutto flavor was very pronounced. It tasted like a sweet corn on the cob wrapped in bacon--unreal and a must in my book!

Island Roll and Dragon Roll: To say that Bistro excels in sushi is an understatement--the freshness, inventiveness and flavor of their rolls blow my mind. I ordered a combination of the Island (mango, avocado, red peppers, cilantro, cucumber and tomato) and the Dragon (eel, cucumber and avocado) rolls. Where one provided a hearty bite (the Dragon) the other presented a burst of freshness and sweet flavor (the Island). They're a fun combination that will leave you super full.

Other Dishes:
My dining companions shared my enthusiasm of Bistro's food. Dan ordered the lamb which came in a port wine reduction and garlic potato gratin. He's usually the first to complain when a portion is small--as this one was--but he loved the lamb so much and appreciated its taste that he just nodded and smiled happily. Jay got the braised shortribs, cooked alongside a Granny Smith apple. Wow! I wish I ordered this, as Jay boasted about the tenderness of the meat and the juiciness of the apple. Lisa went for the spicy tuna roll--tempura style--and the red spider roll (with soft shell crab). She's sometimes a tough critic of sushi but this foodie was enjoying her sushi and smiling from ear to ear.

Service and Cost:
The service and overall treatment of customers was phenomenal. To be honest, we were a bit put-off for waiting an hour for our table, but Bistro made it up to us. They not only provided us with a free appetizer, but they also comped our drinks (that's $10 a piece). We were so delighted about this that we almost forgot about the wait. Besides that, our waitress was pleasant, knew what she was doing and did an all-around good job.

Cost-wise, it's pretty moderate--not cheap but not overly expensive. Appetizers range from $3-$11, entrees from $9-$25 and sushi from $4 for a basic roll to $10 for a speciality roll. Bistro also offers a $14 brunch which gets you an entree, coffee/tea and a cocktail. Not as cheap as some Astoria specials but this food is on a way higher level.

3 Mmmms


  1. My fiancee and I had the pleasure of dining with the foodista and her fiancee and had such a great time at this little bistro in astoria. Usually I am irritated by long waits but not here, the crawfish tempura appetizer was so delicious why we waited(i'm still reminiscing about how good it was). My sushi rolls we're awesome as well as very fresh! i wish i had room for dessert, next time!! Def. will be coming back! Dining with the foodista is always a treat!

  2. I was excited when this place opened up in my neighborhood. It's a short walk from my apartment and the food is AMAZING. But I've been screwed twice. I've given them every chance and they've failed to redeem themselves. The last two times I've been there have been disastrous and I'm never going back.

    Instance 1) I went with my wife and ordered what at point was my favorite dish: hangar steak - rare. The steak arrived and it was well done. Ok, no problem everyone has on off day. I hate to complain but I can't eat steak cooked that way. I called the waiter over and he agreed that the steak was unacceptable. He apologized, took it away and I was pleased. Ten minutes later he brought me a freshly cooked steak. When I cut into it and took a bite I realized that again it wasn't rare; instead it was uncooked. It was seared on the outside and cold on the inside. Basically it was raw. Again, reluctantly, I called the waiter over and pointed out the steak wasn't rare, it was raw. At that point I thought the best thing to do was have the steak wrapped up. Which they did. I took it home, finished cooking it and it was delicious.

    Instance 2) New Years Eve 2009. Prix Fixe, wife and I went with another couple. We were excited. Trouble started before very long. It was a brutally cold night and we were sitting directly under a heating vent. After no more than 10 minutes we were all completely uncomfortable from being toasted with the heat at full blast. We quickly realized this would be a problem and mentioned it to management. They did their best to mollify us but the heat didn't stop. To make a long, unpleasant evening short: we were never appeased. We were uncomfortable throughout our meal. Again, it was prix fixe, with wine paired with each course. In addition we had cocktails and three bottles of wine. We ended up dropping over $700 for the four of us and I never felt that we were well taken care of. In the end we left before the dessert course and I felt ripped off.

    Screw me once shame on you. Screw me twice? Shame on me. Never again.

  3. Wow that really sux Fernando. I could see why you are so ticked off. I happen to love this place and they've never wronged me but I understand your frustrations.



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