Friday, March 30, 2007

Astorian Weekend Edition 30.03.07

This weekend should be pretty nice, with average spring temperatures and the chance for a little rain, It's also a big one for our religious neighbors in Astoria: Palm Sunday occurs for both the western and orthodox churches, and Saturday brings Mawlid Al Nabi, the birthday of the Prophet Muhammed. If you live near 23rd Avenue and 36th Street, you'll no doubt see a lot of activity, as there is both a mosque and the Greek monastery a block away from each other.

Recently I've discovered the availibilty of delicious fresh juices in the neighborhood. I can vouch for the tasty carrot-apple juice at Igloo, and the carrot-apple-ginger (detoxlicious!) at Cafe Bar. Trusted sources tell me that
Bianca's Bakery also serves up some great fresh juice as well. I sometimes find fresh juices to be more invigorating that coffee. However, if you are looking for a great coffee, definitely check out the cappucino at Sparrow. They do a great job of brewing strong, yet smooth espresso, and their steamed milk is excellent. I had one a few weeks ago and was really impressed. Maybe get yourself a bastard while you're there?

On Friday, Waltz presents singer-songwriter Wendy Colonna at 9pm. She's from Austin and is described as a "bluesy Joan Osbourne". $10 Cover, $7 drink minimum. They are also having their monthly wine event on Saturday at 9pm. Great wine, cheese, bread, etc, plus Song and Bethany Rose on piano, all for $25. On Friday and Saturday at 8pm Genesis Repertory will present Romeo & Juliet: Jerusalem at the Greek Cultural Center (27-18 Hoyt Ave. South). Also, this is the last weekend to catch Richard Garrison's Perimeters at the Chocolate Factory.

More fun, here.

Monday, March 26, 2007

A new something

Could be a bar, a restaurant, lounge, club? Apollon is on Steinway and an Ave. above Ditmars i think. I spaced on writing down the cross street. I was walking along just checking out the area and it just struck out to me. Looks quite nice. Guess we'll have to check back in in a a week or so, the opening can't be too far off. Anyone out there have any info?

Friday, March 23, 2007

Astorian Weekend Edition 23.03.07

Friday night stop at the ATM and try out the new Island Cafe & Lounge (35-15 36th Street). It's brand new and helmed by Top Chef contestant Josie Smith-Malave. It's definitely a new kinda place for the hood; let's see how they do. If their $11 drinks scare you off, try out the huge fishbowl-sized caipirinhas at Time Cafe! (44-18 Broadway) For a mere $8, you'll be sipping for at least a half hour. Tasty indeed and such a cute space (see photo).

Saturday go window shopping or actual shopping at the coolest random item store around! It's Marco Polo Gift House (44-10 30th Ave) to the rescue for those hard to shop for friends and loved ones.
Hungry from shopping, catch an early dinner at Aces (32-07 36th Ave). I had the skate there and LOVED it. After dinner let your ears be entertained by our pal DJ Lo-Fi, he'll be spinning over at the always hip and happening Hellgate Social. Fun with the tunes and always no cover- just like we like it. Ladies, count on RightRides when your ready to go home. No more long and lonely (and sometimes scary) walks to the train/bus/cab

Sunday head north. Not too far north, but up towards the park. The Ultimate Frisbee season is officially here! Hooray for Spring :) Need a break after tossing the disk around, find your way over to Freeze Peach where a bunch of folks are having a book swap around 2pm. Bring a book or two and find yourself something new to read.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Passover is Coming!

So, when I was a little girl, my parents converted to Judaism (if you've seen me, you'll find that hard to believe). We, of course, observed Passover, and it became my favorite celebration of the Jewish Year. During the seder on the first night (Monday, April 2 this year), wine plays a big part. Unfortunately, all we had at that point was the cloyingly sweet Mogen David or Manischewitz. These days, there are many more options. Want to check some kosher wines out? Go by Vine Wine in LIC and participate in next Wednesday's tasting:
Wednesday March 28th, 6:30pm

Kosher Wines, for Kosher Times

I know, you think you are scared. Don't be. There are some fantastic kosher wines available now, and we will be tasting a few of them from around the world. So that you too can walk around secure in your knowledge of kosher wines and how delicious they can be.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Say No to Restaurants

Dear Readers -

I am happy to announce that here at Joey In Astoria we are welcoming a new occasional guest restaurant reviewer, Dr. No.

Dr. No fled Phoenix for the steamy underworld of late night restaurants and temperamental chefs in Gotham. She came to town a yes girl, but has been transformed through the fire of fine service into Dr. No, the waitress who is not afraid to give you what you really want, whether you know it or not.

Please welcome her in proper Astorian fashion. (Whatever the hell that is.)

New Feature-- A review of Aces Restaurant


36th ave between 32nd and 33rd Street

You know, I am one of those eaters who likes a sweet pea flan as much as a Jack in the Box taco in the right circumstances. I appreciate food from both sides of the tracks, if you will, as long as someone has loved it just a little before it has been dropped on the plate that I eat it from. But I tell you this-- if someone has loved the food a lot, even if it has other flaws.... well then, I am forever in their thrall.

This is the case with the new Aces. Three sets of my friends had directed me here by the time I finally made it in. A bitterly cold Saturday night found me sitting at the bar, alone, and waiting a bit too long to be greeted and offered a drink. (who does a girl have to fuck around here to get a drink?!??!!) But the waitress in me could see that it was just a case of too many customers and one too few waiter types. Truthfully, it was all I could do not to just get up and help them with the room, but I refrained and was glad I did, because it now means that I get to go back and be "the nice lady who tips well" instead of "the impatient lady who had to jump in and waitress because she could not wait for that cocktail."

So, indeed my bartender did arrive, and graciously offered me a drink. I chose a glass of wine, something I realize now was not a mistake, but not my strongest decision. I should have had one of his cocktails. His meaning the bartender/owner, Miguel. The reason being is that he is a damn good bartender, and in a city this big we fall into a false sense of complacency thinking that surely most bartenders are good, but let me tell you straight-- they are NOT. A truly good bartender is almost too good to be true, and you should shower your money and affections on the few who come along. Subsequent visits have brought many Mojitos, and although I have strong feelings about making a bartender use so much fresh mint in the dead of winter, (out of season!!!!) I can get over them for this mojito. He loves that sucker like nobody's business, and you the lucky drinker are thus rewarded. Not only that, but his old fashioneds are damn good too. A drinker's paradise.

That night I ate an app of Risotto-- with Huitlacoche!!!! In Astoria. Dude, huitlacoche is a fungus that grows on corn in Mexico and is deeeelicious. It is also curiously not present at most restaurants save high end fussy in Manhattan. What a treat to have it here. Creamy risotto-- not too wet, not too dry, with mushrooms and that black funk. Oh yeah. I finished, happily, and slid off my barstool into the night.

In other visits, I have had the clams, cooked in a white wine, butter and chorizo broth that we loved so much we upended the bowl and drank it, (good thing we have no shame) and this fun take on the french frisee et lardons salad, this one with long leaves of Romaine lettuce, poached egg, lardons and a crema fresca dressing. Springy and bright, that salad, plus the added bonus is that after you have broken the egg and it has oozed all over the lettuce, you can use the leaves as a shovel and scoop up the bits of everything else with your hands. It seems uncouth, but truly it is genius. A late night dinner brought the butternut squash soup, a tad salty but good, a gorgeously marbled Ribeye with a rosemary scented jus and some potato puree, and a crusted skate wing with a little too much balsamic redux on the plate but plenty of love nonetheless. And, I would like to mention, I believe that the skate was only $15 and the ribeye $20. That is a steal no matter how you look at it.

So, go see these guys. Take a night off from dining in the glossy halls of manhattan and do a little business in your neighborhood. The drinks are well mixed, the food is simple and well prepared and there is love going on your plate and in your glass. You can get the best, most expensive ingredients in the world and the hottest customers and the best press, but at the end of the day, it is only the guys who truly care about feeding you that make the difference. Go go go to Aces!

Aces: 36th ave between 32nd and 33rd Street
Open 7 days a week for dinner only
Cash only for now.

Pros: food is excellent and off the beaten path. Fresh, well thought out menu with stuff you want to eat. Reasonable prices, large portions, GREAT bartender, owned and operated by people who truly care.

Cons; service can be a bit slow-- kitchen could tighten time between courses. This should improve over time.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Some Updating

It seems like we always come across new and upcoming things right before they open or right when they open and haven't had a chance yet to check them out. So i thought it would be cool to take a look back at some of the "look out for..." and "coming soon..." posts we started.

• Netteria- saw it still with the paper over the windows back in January. Stopped in to the brand spankin new joint and grabbed a menu this afternoon. I can't say it looks all that promising since the lady behind the counter informed me that the prices are going to be going down a bit. Not the best location for a poor little cafe that could! It didn't look all that bad either. I'll be scanning the menu in tomorrow and will post a link here for the hungry masses.

*edited to add the menu for Netteria

• Megaro
- i'm updating just for the sake of updating since the place hasn't looked open to me yet! I'm not sure if it has weird hours, or if they opened then closed in a blink of an eye or what- but the place definitley has not looked like its been up and in business since i saw it in January.

• T&H Mini Market
- back in August i told you they had some cool random Asian snacks in the little market, well today i walked by and it was shuttered. 6:30pm on a monday night? Weird. Will keep an eye on it and see if it was just a fluke or if the poor folks are outtie.

• Wassi
- well what can i tell you about this joint? We first told you about it way back in July. Then in January we saw that they closed. Then oh joy, last month- they were to open up as World News Cafe... I don't think that ever happened! So now as of last weeks weekend edition- we have Tell Astorya- a NEWer cafe in the spot. I passed it today and it is in fact open!

My mind is a blank for some of the other spots i should be revisiting. do you have any you can think of that were left up in the air? let me know and i'll set to investigating!

Jolt into Spring

All day Wednesday, March 21st celebrate the first day of spring with FREE coffee. Dunkin' Donuts is offering their first ever Free Iced Coffee Day. All day long, stop into any of these local locations and get yourself a free 16-ounce iced coffee. This goes for their flavored coffees too! I know you're all aflutter and whatnot... but its still cold out :( WIll that hinder your craving? Not mine!

•4322 Ditmars Blvd • 2524 Broadway • 3114 Ditmars Blvd • 3043 STEINWAY ST • 3117 30TH AVE • 4307 Astoria Blvd • 31st. St. • 3401 Broadway

Friday, March 16, 2007

Astorian Weekend Edition 16.03.07

Well, it looks like we'll be back to winter again, what with all the snow and cold weather coming. These are the kind of days that make you just want to stay inside and stay warm. However, it's St. Patrick's Day on Saturday! Time for parades, beer...and more beer. You can head over to Manhattan for the big parade at 11am, or stay in Astoria and watch it on tv. There are a lot of great Irish pubs in town, which I am sure will be celebrating - try the Irish Rover (28th Ave at 38th Street), McCanns (Ditmars and 37th Street), Cronin and Phelan's (Broadway near 38th Street) come to mind, among others. For a non-Irish setting, the Beer Garden is having a St. Patrick's Day celebration, starting at noon. They'll prepare a classic New England Boiled Dinner (corned beef, cabbage, carrots and potatoes boiled in broth). They'll also have a live DJ playing a great variety of music in the downstairs restaurant starting at 10pm.

If you're not busy whooping it up with the Irish on Saturday, consider heading over to Athens Square (30th Avenue & 30th Street) from 5-7pm. There will be a vigil in conjunction with UFPJ's call for local actions around the fourth Anniversary of the Iraq war.

On Sunday, you can sober up at newly opened Tell Astoria Cafe (37-05 28th Ave), or have brunch at Dillinger's (30th Ave at 47th Street). That night at 7:30, Quiz Night is back at the Irish Rover! It's tons of fun, and you get a nice chunk of change if you win (I know - I was on the winning team a couple weeks ago!). Then at 9pm that night Hellgate Social will be screening blaxploitation masterpiece Three the Hard Way. Have a Hellgate Lemonade (my favorite house speciality cocktail) while you're watching.

More fun, here.

Reality bites

If you watch reality TV as religiously as i do then the name Josie from Top Chef will ring a bell. You'll also remember that she was uber cool but still lost :( It's our gain though!!! Look see what i yanked from this weeks Time Out:
Island Café & Lounge
Top Chef contestant Josie Smith-Malave, the spiky-coiffed ex–football player, heads the kitchen at this eclectic restaurant and café. The bi-level Mediterranean spot, with bamboo and river-stone walls, is home to the only four-head Cimbali espresso machine in the U.S. 35-15 36th St between 35th and 36th Aves, Long Island City, Queens (718-433-0690).

(so they call it LIC, i still consider it Astoria!)

RightRides hits the nabe!!!

You may have heard of this awesome program before- RightRides provides free transportation home for women, trans people and gender queer individuals. Well, now my lucky friends, they have oh so kindly entered our borough and landed right smack in the middle of where we need it! So far they cover 36th Ave. at the north to Queens Plaza East/31st and 28th Street at the east (i'm not exactly sure how that works out though- need to put in a phone call). Zipcar has kindly donated 3 vehicles for the volunteers to get people moving. RightRides is currently available every Saturday night from Midnight - 3 AM late night Saturdays (aka early Sunday morning) and the Dispatch number, should you need to call for a ride home is (718) 964-7781.

Get all the details on their site. Volunteer to drive around for the night or tag along with another driver. You never know, you might just need these peeps in your corner one night. I'm probably going to look into volunteering myself a few nights, i'm just a social freak so getting new people to talk to randomly on a Saturday night sounds like fun! And its a good thing :)

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Marco Polo Gift House

Sunday just screamed "GET OUTSIDE", all too happily i did! After grabbing some brunch at Dillinger's, I headed back along 30th Ave towards Steinway. Out of the corner of my eye- an elephant stood. Oh yes, there was an elephant (statue anyway) on top of a minivan... Without hesitation I ran across the street to discover that this adorable leather elephant belonged to the Marco Polo Gift House - or as i'd like to re-christen it, the Store of Random Objects. They stock such a variety of knick knacks, things you would never imagine finding...all together. From skulls to piggies to suncatchers to mirrors to buddhas and more! The prices were right too, leaning on the window was an awesome celtic mirror about 3 feet high- $60. Might just have to stop back over for that one. They've got oils, soaps and incense as well. This could be quite the one stop shop for gift giving. I have no doubt that anyone can walk in there and easily find something for even the most ecletic friend. Super sweet staff too- gotta be to answer all the probing questions!

Give them a go- if for nothing else, for the sheer novelty of shop. Fun!

Marco Polo Gift House
44-10 30th Ave.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Astorian Weekend Edition 9.03.07

Friday March 9th, help set the record straight... or just set it anyway.
Go out to La Vuelta Bistro (10-43 44th Drive, Long Island City) anytime after 6pm and join in helping "the Transducer" make the Guinness World Record. It's a local fund-raiser called the Great Charity Spin. There is a catch though, Guinness requires two different witnesses for every four-hour period! Stop by if you want to be one of the 44 people needed. But wait- there's more- an art exhibit, wine tastings and belly dancers fill up the rest of the night.

All is good in the world again. I just discovered a kitty rescue right around the corner! The folks at Francis's Friends Inc. are doing their darndest to find homes for these little ones. If you can't take one in, they've got other stuff that your big heart can help with including volunteering and making tax-deductible donations of money, food, and litter.

Here we have sweet little Miss Benicia del Rio Blanco Gato. She's being fostered right now but has to go since her landlord didn't want her around! She's on their petfinder link if you're inclined...

Looking for a bottomless bloody mary or two? Dillingers Pub & Grill (46-19 30th Ave.) is here to oblige. Sundays from 11:30am to 3pm, munch on brunch. There are three choices for three different set prices, $9.95 food/no alcohol, $15.95 food & alcohol (there's your mimosa or bloody mary!), $18.95 food & alcohol & STEAK! A little something for everyone. I'm giving it a try this Sunday and will be reporting back...with pictures!

Candy Plum (30-98 36th St.) offers a freebie this weekend. Go see the ladies, mention "myspace," and walk out a proud winner of a lovely pair of earrings! Offer good only till Sunday, so do yourself a favor and check them out, especially if you still haven't after all of these months of us telling you about them!

Monday, March 05, 2007

Important Upcoming Meeting!

Astoria Park Meeting
Tuesday, March 13th, 6:30pm
Steinway Reformed Church
41-01 Ditmars Blvd at 41st Street

All are welcome

Come join us for our continuing discussion regarding Astoria Park and the formation of an Astoria Park Friends group. Our last meeting brought together some nearby residents from throughout Astoria who are interested in working together to ensure the overall health of the park. But we need you, too!

We, a collective group of Astoria Park users, are interested in clean ups and gardening days, advocating for physical park improvements, partnering with other programs and events that take place in the park, environmental education, and creating literature/brochures. Please come join us to further refine these thoughts and add your own ideas at our second meeting.

If you have questions, please call Helen Ho at 718-520-5913 or e-mail at

Friday, March 02, 2007

Additional Weekend Fun

Forwarded to me from my friend Linda:
Set aside some time this weekend for sky watching. On Saturday night, March 3rd, there's going to be a total eclipse of the Moon. This means the Moon will glide through the heart of Earth's shadow and turn a beautiful shade of sunset red. Totality can be seen from parts of all seven continents including all of Europe and Africa and the eastern half of North America.

Visit for observing tips, maps and links to live webcasts, and check out the Lunar Eclipse Gallery for photos from a similar eclipse in 2004.

Astorian Weekend Edition 02.03.07

Get ready for warmer weather this weekend! S-l-o-w-l-y we are inching toward spring, complete with rainshowers on Friday and Saturday. Sounds like an opportunity to stay indoors (and maybe order some truffles and tartes while you're at it), hang out at a local cafe, or go see a movie. By the way, did you know that admission to the AMMI galleries is free on Fridays from 4-8 pm?

Now, it has come to my attention that fun clothes live in Astoria. Stop by Candy Plum and take advantage of their new pieces - five new designers have arrived with new jewelry and clothing collections. Mimi's Closet also has a lot of beautiful clothes on sale, plus new spring lines are arriving. Same with KrisTees - her winter collection is on sale, and the beginning of her spring collection is on the racks as well. I stopped in to these places this week and saw all the lovely things available and they are definitely worth checking out.

Sparrow is now serving brunch on Sundays from 12-5pm. Mmmm...french toast. Sunday night, head over to Fatty's for their Sunday Night Social. And Lounge 47 in LIC is still holding their "10 at 10" special - on Saturday nights from 10-11pm they've got an open bar costing you just $10 for the hour. I've also enjoyed my times at Rapture Lounge, which serves good drinks and tasty food. Sunday night is Service Industry night, so bartenders you are particularly welcome!

Finally, the Astoria Symphony is playing in town this weekend (Sunday)! I hear the piano soloist, Orlando Alonso, is amazing.

More fun, here.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Time to VOTE...for food

Do what's right my peeps, log on to Time Out NY's Eat Out Awards and help our local favs reign supreme!
If you haven't tried them yet, there's still time! Go out today and sample some fine food for the greater good of Astoria. 3, that's right 3 of the 5 are places right here in our little neck of the woods. Here are the contenders:

Best new Queens restaurant

Still need convincing? here are pictures from all three places and a few others from my flickr account. Can you tell i like food, just a little?