Brick Cafe is perfect. I know, it doesn't sound possible. But it is.
My first apartment in Astoria was by 30th Av a few blocks East of the N train. I used to whiz by Brick on my bicycle writing it off as a yuppie establishment I needed no part in. Then two things happened. First, I moved to the Broadway area and my pals moved to 31st Av just West of the train. Guess what was exactly equidistant to us both? The second thing that happened was I realized I'm a young, urban, professional. God help me.
So, we descended upon the Brick Cafe. The Northern half of the place is a bar - a very cozy, slightly Mediterranean bar with a nice selection. This was the whole of the original business. You can order food there, too. Steve and I love to go there for a dessert + night cap after eating at lesser institutions in the City. There's couches and stools and table service. Plenty of room for a group. Cozy in the winter, and airy in the summer.
The Southern half of the place is the restaurant. It's done in country French charm. Distressed wooden tables and a long old mirror along the back make the room inviting. There's lots of outdoor and window seating which is nice - except for a bit of street noise. There are even outdoor heat fans when it gets cooler.
You are greeted warmly and handled gently by the knowledgeable wait staff. Make friends with them; you won't be sorry. They can always help you choose a wine. Every night they have lots of specials. Order them. You'll always start with olive spread and bread. The wine list is good and cleverly pasted to a wine bottle; although I could stand a few options under $20. This place seems to have a special flare for starters and salads, so don't skip them.
Steve orders the linguine and alternates between the red and white sauce every time we go (constantly). I order the specials. The pastas are good, and the risotto is the best I've had in Queens. My favorite entrees are usually the fish. I don't eat much meat, but I'm told these are great as well. I have always like the fact that there's a hamburger on the menu, just in case you're feeling like one. Brick could benefit from one great vegetarian item on the menu.
The food is always very fresh and we've noticed that when they get a particularly good batch of some ingredient, it makes appearances in many different dishes. The best reason to go to the Brick Cafe is the white chocolate mouse cake with a glass of Ruby port.
Brick is the best date or take-your-parents restaurant in the neighborhood, but you can still go very casual. Enjoy!