Friday, April 1, 2011
The Queens Kickshaw Lives Up To Its Kickass Name
The Queens Kickshaw - 40-17 Broadway, Astoria NY 11103
M/R Train to Steinway Street
As many of you enthusiastic Astorians may know, a new specialty coffee shop opened up just last weekend, not far from the Steinway Street subway stop. This new awesome place is called the Queens Kickshaw, which specializes in free-trade coffee, provided by a small, local supplier called Coffee Lab Roasters. But besides all the interesting brew, their offering also includes a grilled cheese menu like you've never seen before.
The Queens Kickshaw occupies an old space that's been refurbished and remodeled but at the same time preserved. Located in a heavily trafficked area near the Steinway Street shopping neighborhood, it's a welcome addition to the neighborhood, and at the same time it feels a bit foreign amongst the older establishments that surround it. But I think this is a good thing, as the neighborhood begs for some retail and restaurant rejuvenation and The Queens Kickshaw is there to jumpstart (I mean...kickstart) that.
The interior space is harmoniously set up and immediately makes you feel welcome and relaxed. There's a long coffee bar in front with lots of seating, which is perfect for small groups and solo customers alike. I chose to sit here during my visit and got to chat casually with the staff and other patrons. It was quite fun.
There is a back too, where you can sit down at a table with high stools - a nice way to spend a morning or afternoon with a good book, studying or just relaxing with friends. Overall, the decor is very simple and rustic, but done with class and quality finishes. You can tell that owners, Jen and Ben respect the elements with which they worked and that philosophy also translates into the products they serve.
Food and Drink:
I was fascinated by the Kickshaw's colorful coffee menu, which boasted flavor combinations that I could only devise in my dreams. Needless to say, I totally glossed over the espresso based drinks because they were too ordinary, and went straight for the v60 pour over coffee. To wash that brew down, I also chose two types of grilled cheese sandwiches that immediately spoke to me. This was a particularly tough thing to do since every one of the sandwiches sounded so unique and divine. Simple solution...I'll just have to come back.
Rwanda Coopac Coffee - This selection was recommended to me by Ben and I could see why. Including interesting and feminine flavors such as cherry, cinnamon graham cracker and marshmallow notes, this coffee was as delicate in taste as it was in potency and strength. Because it was brewed with such precision, taking time to open up and "bloom" as Ben would say, it tasted super fresh, making it surprisingly light on the tummy.
Great Hill Blue Sandwich - I can't help but to always be sucked in by blue cheese. I chose this sandwich because it included this coveted ingredient along with sophisticated sweet flavors from a prune jam, fresh thinly sliced pears, sandwiched between slices of crunchy cranberry-walnut bread. Since the cheese and the other components were so rich, it tasted more like a dessert rather than something hearty. Personally, I thought it was absolutely delightful and I'd get it again in a heart beat, but if you're not a huge blue cheese fan, you may want to steer clear, for this sandwich pays a big homage to this godly ingredient.
Gouda Sandwich - Since I've always loved gouda (especially smoked) I thought this rather unusual combination paired with black bean hummus, guava jam, pickled jalapenos on brioche bread would help introduce me to something totally new and avant-garde. And it did. Not only was I amazed at how the different spicy, savory and sweet flavors worked well together, it was also fun to open up my palate to new flavor combinations. If you love adventure and some spice, this one's for you.
Service and Cost:
It's obvious that the baristas at The Queens Kickshaw are as knowledgeable and vested in its products and services as its owners. I'd characterize the service as intelligent, thoughtful and personal - the waitstaff isn't afraid to be friendly, social and to give you little tid-bits about their quality products.
Costs are very fair for the coffee and a tad expensive for the sandwiches, but you have to remember that they use high quality products such as Balthazar bread and premium cheeses.
v60 Pour Over Coffee - $2.25 - $3.25
Espresso Based Drinks - $2.25 - $4.25
Sandwiches - $8 - $11
Salads, Sides, Snacks - $4 - $9
3 Caffeinated Mmmms