N/Q Train to 30th Avenue
After hearing about the recent opening of William Hallet on 30th Avenue and some interesting takes from people, I set out with my friends, Meg and Mackenzi from We Heart Astoria to try it.
It was a pretty erratic night, with the weather doing all kinds of things, which was an eerie premonition to the experience we'd have. Needless to say, it left something to be desired as for the food, but the drinks were wonderful and worth coming back for.
Reminding me of a cozy gastropub, I was really digging the vibe of this place. Funky wallpaper gave it that vintage chic feel, with small lanterns that further called out its pretty details. There are two street-facing leather banquettes in the front (one by each window) and we had the pleasure to sit in one of them. I loved the view of 30th Avenue from here, as it was great for people watching, and the crazy weather watching too. Overall, we felt comfortable and not in the least bit rushed to leave.
While we hung out mostly in the front of the restaurant, the back has a lot more seating and the lovely bar in the middle is inviting too. We liked seeing a crowd gather there even early on in the night, and in general the place had a chilled out vibe, which is always welcome.
Looking at the amazing-sounding comfort food menu, we enjoyed scoping out items that were new to us (i.e. turducken) as well as oldies but goodies (i.e. burger, tomato salad, a veggie tatin). We each chose something different and unfortunately we were underwhelmed. Here's why...
Heirloom Tomato Salad - Starting with this seasonal salad sounded like a great idea, and it was one of the only things that delivered that night. The tomatoes were fresh, juicy and pretty sweet. I enjoyed biting into the crunchy seasoned croutons, which provided a nice textural difference to the dish. It was a good, light way to start the meal, and our impression was positive.
Turducken - The minute I saw this on the menu, I was intrigued. Nowhere else have I seen this on a restaurant menu, often hearing about it only on the Food Network on Paula's Best Dishes. I had to try it! This turducken came in a non-traditional meat loaf format, consisting of ground chicken, turkey and duck, further topped with bacon and bourbon ketchup. The whole thing was served on an onion roll and presented along with thick-cut steak fries.
It looked great and all, but the minute I bit into it, I was disappointed. It has a peculiar taste that just didn't agree with my tastebuds - the three meats didn't seem to mix well together, and the overall taste was very dry. The bun was another let down, as it wasn't warmed up nor was it fluffy. Given that I was pretty hungry, I ate a lot of it, but it was more out of necessity rather than enjoyment.
Other Entrees - Meg ordered a classic burger, which she seemed OK with but again, it didn't blow her out of the water. Also in my opinion, there was an overwhelming amount of lettuce on it.
Mackenzi went for the veggie tatin, which I had my eye on too. It looked wonderful - fluffy, well-done puff pastry topped with seasonal veggies and again, looots of lettuce. Overall, Mackenzi's reaction was similar to mine - it was more a means to an end rather than something very delicious. She mentioned that the crust got soggy and a general lack-lusterness prevailed.
Onion Rings - While we were already indulging, we went for these too, and they were awesome. Crispy, flavorful and not too oily, they were a nice accompaniment to any dish. If I'd come back, I'd absolutely get these as a little snack to go along with my beer.
Drinks - We each got a refreshing drink, including some interesting microbrews such as Ithaca Apricot Wheat and Captain Lawrence Kolsch. The latter is one of my favorites, light and flavorful with nice citrus notes. Meg's Apricot Wheat smelled and tasted divine, and I'd absolutely get it next time around - it had a hint of sweetness and floral-ness.
Service and Cost:
Our server was cordial, likable and paid just the right amount of attention to us. As mentioned, I liked that the staff asserted themselves in just the right amounts and let us hang out and chat as long as we wanted. After getting our food, they made sure that all was OK and did a nice job of following-up.
Prices are moderate and include:
Appetizers: $7 - $12
Salad: $8 - $12
Entrees: $11 - $21
Drinks: $4 -$13