OK, I already knew I was lucky to live in Astoria - one of New York's great food Meccas - but I didn't realize how lucky until last Monday, October 8th. I was one of thirty or so lucky foodies invited to preview the Fall menu at Bistro 33 (19-33 Ditmars Blvd.)
My good friend and fellow foodie, Chef Jonathan Forgash from Astoria's own Start Struck Catering, set up the Chef's tasting menu. He and his friend, Bistro 33 Chef, Gary Anza, recently spoke about how to get some locals introduced to the grub the chef's been cranking out for all these years. Sometimes you just need a little nudge to go for something new you know? I've never been about French cuisine Per Se, but the fusion part got my attention - and also the sushi (one of my weaknesses). So prior to the Fall menu preview, Jonathan took me there for dinner as somewhat of a tease I think! He was already working the idea of the tasting out with Chef Gary and was looking for my opinion. It was so, so, so, good, I knew this tasting was going to really wow everyone lucky enough to be in on it
I could sit here and tell you about the great new space they've got up on Ditmars, or how local artists painted the original artwork adorning the walls, or even the fact that they have an awesome selection of sake (peach infused sake anyone?) and Japanese beer- but why would I do that when you know I'm all about the FOOD!!!!
Let me get my food porn out of the way- I'll walk you through it :)
Included in our incredible price was one drink of the alcoholic variety- wine or beer- I ordered the Pinot Grigio (Alverdi, Italy) since i saw that there was going to be alot of seafood- i liked it. Then came course after course of incredible dishes...
We wet our whistles on plates of Edamame with the perfect amount of salt (you'd be amazed how many times I've had to ask for salt!) And what a heaping portion- everyone at the table thought we'd be sharing a plate when in fact we each received our own. I can't really go into Edamame now can I? Umm... reheat and serve? No complaints.
I guess this would be considered the first course- Salmon Truffle Tartare on an egg noodle crisp topped with Ikura (Salmon Roe). You could have knocked me over with a feather! I was asking for more from everyone around me- silly me was hoping someone wouldn't be into salmon or something and I would be able to help them out so as to not insult the Chef...wrong. Everyone loved this. It was so delicate and no crazy over salty explosions of roe in your mouth. Really, it was wonderful.
The opening was followed by Grilled Shrimp with a lime aioli dipping sauce followed. I was intrigued from the get-go when I saw this plate. Not a lemon, but a grilled orange was used to hold the aioli. We were then instructed by our gracious servers to squeeze the oranges with the sauce directly over the shrimp and eat that way. The lime and orange citrus burst combination was incredible, such a refreshing flavor. I could kill a heaping plate of this.
Roasted Sweet Pork with sauteed baby shitake mushrooms & grilled scallions was perhaps Annie's favorite. As hard as it was to pick one that night, the pork was so tender and flavorful- I can understand her choice. I'll just add that the mushrooms and scallions were cooked perfectly and played in nicely as a bed to absorb all the yummy juices from the pork!
Sautéed Scottish Salmon atop thyme roasted potatoes with a black summer truffle beure blanc. Maybe the shrimp were my favorite- or maybe it was this to die for salmon! ding ding ding... we've got a winner. A perfectly cooked piece of moist salmon was heavenly. The accompaniment was nothing to scoff at either. Tiny little toasted taters floated in a indulgent beure blanc. This dish... wow. Please don't be afraid of the perfect crispy skin on there either, you're taste buds will thank you!
5th in line for our ready-to-burst bellies, Spicy White Tuna Asparagus Sushi Roll topped with white tuna & avocado. I have to confess- the Chef had sent us out this dish the previous time I was there as a surprise "hey look what i'm working on" kind of thing. The sushi at this place is really spot-on, and the combinations they come up with are all incredible.
Rounding out the night of decadence- Chocolate Espresso Stout Ice Cream on a fudge brownie. I don't normally make it to dessert because I tend to overdue on the savory - but this time, how could i say no? Lucky for me, my companion took off early and I was stuck with his desert... not a lick went to waste. Something about the stout kick in the melty ice cream and the warm gooey brownie to soak it all up- it's the best sweet I've had in quite some time.
I suggest a nice long walk home after a meal like this!
The long and short of it? Get a party of 33 friends together who are up for the Chef's tasting menu and give Gary a call and see what he can do. Or just get your butt over there now, I mean come on- they are open every night..with brunch on the weekends, too. Take your pick from the menu- you won't be disappointed!
Pictures galore on Flickr