Monday, March 24, 2008

Vue Cafe - New Eatery in Quiet Quarters

Vue Cafe - 12-14 31st Avenue, Astoria, NY 11106
N/W Train to 30th Avenue

You might have seen my initial review of Vue this morning on Joey in Astoria. The review below delves deeper into the menu, prices and the service of this new eatery. Overall my visit was a nice and relaxing experience that I'd repeat. My only complaint is that it's a bit far from the subway.

Interestingly situated on the ground floor of an upscale condominium building, Vue is located in a quiet neighborhood in Astoria, bordering on Long Island City. In fact, it's the only cafe on that block and a trendy one to boot! You walk in and are immediately welcomed by a friendly hostess who seats you at a simple, sophisticated table with comfy chairs. The dining room decor is modern and reminds me of 30th Avenue cafes such as Table 30

A unique part of the design is the chandelier wall--think long rectangular chandeliers that are embedded in the actual wall and boy do they sparkle! Cool concept and fun to look at. The music was also a favorite of mine because it was laid-back without being cheesy--Van Morrison, smooth jazz and the like. Basically the antithesis of boring elevator music.

Chef Randall Benjamin offers up an eclectic menu of hearty meat and seafood dishes. A lot of warm comfort foods are featured and we took advantage of these at dinner. Here's what we tried:

Sweet and Sour Spare Ribs: A comfort food classic, we were eager to try it, especially because it also featured cheesy jalapeno poppers. The ribs were tangy and we particularly liked the pickled red peppers and onions on top. But the jalapeno poppers were by far a favorite--they had a super crispy exterior and a silky-smooth interior. There were two for us to enjoy, which was plenty for such an indulgence but we secretly hoped there would be more.

Lamb Chops with Zucchini Sticks: I consider a properly cooked lamb to be the measuring stick of a good Astorian eatery and this one didn't disappoint. The meat was soft and juicy and was especially nice to dip into the homemade tzatziki sauce. Pita triangles provided a bed for the lamb, absorbing all the scrumptious juices of the meat--a nice touch. The zucchini sticks were wonderfully crispy on top but unfortunately came dipped in the tzatziki, which made them a little soggy on the bottom. Aside from that they were incredibly tasty and Dan agreed.

Grilled Steak with a Potato Croquette:
This was Dan's dish and he enjoyed it thoroughly. While he had to send the steak back because it was undercooked, it came back cooked perfectly and the waistaff was graciously accommodating. The fixins included grilled onions, peppers and green beans--together they gave the steak a welcome char flavor. The potato croquette was tasty but needed a bit more salt in my opinion. Overall--a nice solid dish.

Service and Cost:
The waitstaff is professional and super attentive. Given Vue's new status, everyone is still very much on their toes, trying hard to make things perfect. They did a great job at it, as our dishes came in good time and our water glasses were refilled as needed.

The prices here are moderate, appetizers typically between $8-$10, entrees between $18-$22 and burgers and sandwiches around $10. The quality of the food is good though so you are getting back what you put in. Wines are also available by the glass ($7-$8) and by the bottle (around $25-$28).

2 Mmmms


  1. Sad news today. Word out that there is a "For Rent" sign in the window of Vue Cafe.
    Surely the location had to play a role in their demise. We know they closed recently to await brighter times for the neighborhood.
    Sorry I didn't get to eat there; the pictures looked good.

  2. What a shame! Location does play a key role in a restaurant's success.

  3. Well, good news, I guess. Found out Vue Cafe is open for business again. Unfortunately, the neighborhood is still not hardly like 30th avenue.

    I guess I better try before it closes again.

  4. My mistake...Vue will be opening in mid-October with a name change.



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