Thursday, November 27, 2008

Astorian Weekend Edition 27.11.08 ::GOBBLE::

Happy Turkey Day all! You know this edition is of course going to be food filled... we can't help it: it's Astoria! Whatever your taste, you'll be able to find a place to break bread this weekend. Staying local? Fear not.

Astoria's newest Italian joint welcomes all for traditional Thanksgiving fare. Vesta (21-02 30th Ave) has a varied menu going on this Thursday to fit all tastes.

Brick (30 - 95 33rd St), a well-established spot, is offering up a top notch seasonal menu. Make sure to call for reservations; they are known to fill up.

A little goes a long way with the folks over at Cronin & Phelan's (38-14 Broadway). For $16 you get soup or salad and roast turkey breast with homemade stuffing and cranberry sauce. When you can't get to mom's, they've got it for ya!

Also heard that my new little gem Seva (30-07 34th St) is doing a prix fixe Thanksgiving menu. There will be turkey tikka masala, cranberry saffron rice, and cashew pumpkin halwa for dessert. Talk about fusion cuisine!

Blackstone's (38-04 Broadway) is taking reservations for dinner. $18 for a full-on 3-course meal and a glass of wine.

Personally, I'd give Stove (45-17 28th Ave) a try. If I weren't going to be in NJ with family I would go there. The menu looks awesome and I've heard alot of good stuff about the place.

If you want a low key night, Mike's Diner (22-37 31st St) is advertising a Thanksgiving Dinner with all the trimmings. There are different prices for different meal options, so bring an appetite or just nibble. You don't even have to brave the cold much; it's right under the train station!

OK, so it's not all about food. At Waltz (23-14 Ditmars Blvd) on Friday, after you've had your fill of turkey, check out the talent expo. From 8 to 10:30 p.m. enjoy 3 new performances at the weekly event.

Continue the long weekend on Saturday at Hell Gate Social (12-21 Astoria Blvd). Starting at 8 p.m., Astoria Music & Arts Presents: A Cornucopia of Conscienceness. Billed as "A night of very distinct local music and general revelry."

Whatever your plans this weekend, enjoy yourselves and be safe out there!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Bistro 33 On Vacation, but Promises New Menu Items in December

Just got a mailer from Bistro 33 about their vacation closing, but there is some good news, still:

Bistro 33 will be closed for Vacation from Monday Nov. 24 through Monday Dec. 8

... And we will have many new wines and menu items when we return.

See you all on Tues. Dec. 9th

Happy Thanksgiving!

-Everyone at Bistro33

Thursday, November 20, 2008

It's Beaujolais Nouveau Time

From Vine Wine:

This Saturday we will be pouring some truly gorgeous Crus from Beaujolais. You will see how complex and varied these wines can be and probably never go back to to the undistinguished Beaujolais Nouveau ever again. They pair well with a wide variety of foods, making ideal Thanksgiving wine.
  • Domaine Chignard, Fleurie
  • Chateau Thivin, Cote de Brouilly
  • Marcel Lapierre, Morgon
November 22
3:00 - 6:00pm

Vine Wine
12-09 Jackson Ave
Long Island City, NY

SITE Holiday Preview Party

This is tonight! From their mailer:

Holiday preview party!!
Thursday, November 20th

Great holiday gift items, decorations, ornaments, greetings cards + all your regular SITE favorites on sale for one night only!

Take 15% off all purchases under $100. Spend $100 or more and take 20% off!!

Plus all the SITE party treats...cupcakes + those tasty wine boxes + fab music + good company.

Astorian Weekend Edition 20.11.08

We're in for another cold one this weekend and what better way to spend it than to eat some yummy food. A lot of restaurants are staying conscious of prices, offering enticing specials...

Try Astoria's lovely little paninoteca, Il Bambino. They serve fantastic soups and paninis--and they now have their liquor license too so you could enjoy a nice glass of vino. I recently tried their baked potato soup and it was dee-licious! - 34-08 31st Avenue, Astoria, NY 11106. 718.626.0087

On another Italian note, take a short train ride to Long Island City and try a quaint little café called Manducatis Rustica. You'll feel at home with comfy couches, a cozy fireplace and the freshest pizza in town. I also recommend the "bacio" gelato (gelato sampling pictured above)—you'll be in for a sweet surprise. 46-35 Vernon Blvd, Long Island City, NY 11101. 718.937.1312

Mezzo Mezzo has a full weekend schedule with Comedy Night on Thursday at 8 p.m., Happy Hour on Friday from 4 p.m. – 8 p.m. (including a free buffet) and Belly dancing on Saturday, starting at 9 p.m. - 31-29 Ditmars Blvd, Astoria NY 11105. 718.278.0444

Support local artists and especially talented jewelry makers. I recently discovered a local jewelry site called Esculon and I can't wait to receive my first purchase! Founded by two entrepreneurial spirits, Alexandra and Londy, the site features funky jewelry at affordable prices. Orders can be placed online.

And don't forget to visit Seva, Sooz's top pick for Indian food in
Astoria! I must admit that I'm hungry to try it (pun intended). They offer a $12 dinner special, which consists of three hefty courses. Don't miss this incredible recession deal. - 30-07 34th St (corner of 30th Ave), Astoria NY 11103. 718.626.4440

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Astoria Holiday Shopping Bazaar

From Kristie Foster of KrisTees:

Astoria's first Holiday Shopping Bazaar is coming!

The location of our "Starry Night" shopping event is at Cup Diner & Bar, 35-01 36th Street (across from Kaufman Astoria Studios), on Tuesday, December 2 from 6-11 p.m. There, you can view some of the lovely things offered by Astoria's boutiques - KrisTees, Candy Plum, Loveday31, Inside Astoria, Site, The Jumping Bulldog, Clash Culture, and many others.

For the evening, there will be plenty to keep you entertained while shopping for holiday goodies, including:

-free shopping totes to help you put all your fabulous items in
-complimentary hors d'oeuvres
-dj spinning all night
-roller derby girls handing out holiday treats
-a raffle including prizes from other local businesses

So mark your calendars for a very special Astoria shopping night and RSVP to receive a tote at the event to or call 718-721-2299.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Seva, my new bud off the avenue

I decided to take myself out for dinner last night.
I was flying solo so I thought it a good opportunity to try something that I know my other half doesn't like at all- Indian. Been hearing all kinds of good stuff about Seva Indian Restaurant (30-07 34th St) and since it's on my way home, it won out. I had no idea how affordable it would be!
Walking up to the place I saw the sandwich board outside letting me know that there is a prix fixe dinner if I was so inclined. You'll never believe it, but it was only $12! Granted no drink included but it's BYOB! This just kept getting better.

There was only one other couple in the place when I got there so service was super fast and attentive (but they were so sweet, I have to believe they are always like that) but it was early- 6:30ish maybe? That changed by the time I left, it was almost full. The menu was the perfect size. Not too overwhelming and not too crazy, especially for someone with very little Indian cuisine knowledge. Seeing as how what wanted was also on the meal deal menu, I went for knew I would ;)
One veggie samosa, chicken saag and basmati rice, gulab jamun and I had to throw in a rosemary naan with a refreshing glass of limeade. So what that this put me over my $12 quoted price- I WANTED IT ALL!!!!

The kind sir went to put in my order and then "gifted" me with papadum and 2 sauces. I think he said one was mint and the other tamarind? Whatever really, I loved it. Proceeded to devour it.

Out came my little samosa puff on a little pool of the 2 sauces mentioned above. I am kidding when i call it little. My big healthy sized samosa was enough to split- lucky for me there was noone to split it with ;)

Glory be, that naan was huge hot and tasty. The little pots that held the chicken and the rice were adorable. At first glance I was like, wow I can see why it's affordable. But after digging in and getting fuller and fuller by the minute I started wondering who the hell could eat a full dinner portion?!?!?! I fought the good fight and only ended up leaving half my rice and 1 scoop of chicken and sauce. Sad I know, but I needed to finish the glorious naan and my dessert still to come!

I am very unfamiliar with any and all Indian desserts. But seeing as the description for the other one likened it to rice pudding (which I detest) I had to order the gulab jamun. They describe it as Honeyed dumplings, cashew stuffing, rosewater, cardamo. Craptastic! I'm glad it wasn't really plural, there was one huge zeppole type cake in a dish swimming in a pretty aromatic sauce with some shredded stuff on top. This was maybe my favorite thing of the night. I could do some damage to a platter of these. Serious.

The place is a must for everyone. Not kidding. Couples, groups or solo like me. They've got something for everyone and super affordable. My whole dinner after tax was $18.50. If I were not the glutton that I just described on here, there would have been enough for lunch the next day. Alas, I 'll just have to go back.

Loved it.
Yup, it's good.

Seva Indian Restaurant
30-07 34th St (corner of 30th Ave)
718 626 4440

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Top Chef Hits Astoria

Image by

Last night's premiere of Bravo's reality food show, Top Chef featured our very own neighborhood. It was exciting to see contestants of the show's 5th season get off at the Astoria Blvd subway stop and head to our very own Greek supermarket, Titan. Their mission was to prepare an ethnic meal themed to a neighborhood that was chosen for them. Both New York natives, Jamie and Richard competed head-to-head in making a typical Greek meal. Watch the action here!

Also, it looks as if the contestants are living in an upscale high-rise building in LIC. I'm not certain about that but it looked that way from the view out their window. I'm glad to see that people are finally catching on--Queens is cool!

Astorian Weekend Edition 13.11.08

Saturday looks like it's going to be a rainy Saturday, so why not check out one of Astoria an LIC's own museums? The Noguchi Museum (9-01 33rd Rd), the SculptureCenter (44-19 Purves), and P.S.1 (22-25 Jackson Ave) all have exhibitions running currently.

Make sure you take the opportunity to stop by Freeze Peach (22-00 29th Street), too - they've lost their space so their existence is limited (their going away party is 11/22). Hopefully they will find a new space, though - it would be a shame for them to completely disappear.

For a while now, I've been hearing about great affordable massage found in the Ditmars neighborhood. Chinese GongFu Tui-Na is the name and $50 gets you a full body massage. They also do foot rub/reflexology.

And if I haven't mentioned it before, Soho (22-11 31st St) has amazing turkey bacon. I recommend it, along with the whole wheat pancakes.

Monday, November 10, 2008

The JIA Crew Goes to Koliba

Last week my colleagues Meg, Sooz and I went to my favorite restaurant in Astoria--Koliba. I'm slightly biased in my preference for it because it reminds me of my home country of Slovakia. For those of you who may not know, Koliba specializes in Slovak and Czech homestyle dishes. That means lots of dumplings, sauces, meat and of course beer!

We had a great experience here and I was delighted that the girls loved it as much as I did. Although Koliba is nothing fancy, the food is among the most comforting, filling and flavorful in Astoria--and it's sort of a hidden treasure, as not many people think to check it out.

Here is some of the amazingness that we sampled:

Potato Spaetzle with Cheese and Bacon ($14.50) - I usually splurge and get this dish almost every time. The cheese is a creamy sheep's cheese that just melts in your mouth upon contact. The spaetzle or potato-based dumplings are a step above gnocchi and the bacon is super thick, crispy and chewy! My favorite part of the bacon is that it feels substantial instead of the thin strips that I'm used to eating at other restaurants. The portion (pictured above) is way too large for one person but it's nice to split it in half with your dining companions or to take some home for tomorrow's lunch.

Potato Spaetzle with Sauerkraut and Bacon ($11.75) - This was Meg's dish and it was also very tasty. The spaetzle were the same as mine and the sauerkraut was seasoned well with lots of pepper. Bacon was also used but it was a lot different than the one on my dish--Meg's was more chewy than crispy and it was pinker, looking like thick-sliced Canadian bacon. Meg took almost half of her portion home too and at the price that you see above, this was once again a great deal.

Pork Schnitzel in Potato Pancake Batter ($14.75) - Sooz just couldn't resist this delicious-sounding dish. I've never had it before myself and when I saw that it came served with plenty of sweet red cabbage, I knew that I'd have to get it next time. The pork schnitzel was enormous and the portion actually included two pieces--one of which is nestled under this big one that you see above. The batter was fantastic, crispy, thick and a little sweet too. The meat that lied underneath was light and not too thick, making it was easy to cut into and eat. Meg and I both took forkfuls of the delightful sweet cabbage, which happens to be my favorite Slovak side-dish. This plate was definitely a home run, judging by Sooz' happy face.

Everytime that I go to Koliba it's never crowded and last week was no exception. We were the only people that dined at a table, as everyone else sat at the bar chatting. Needless to say, our waitress wasn't very busy. She was friendly and brought everything to us relatively quickly. We had to signal to her to get the check but once we did, it came in minutes--nothing to complain about.

So...go ahead and try Koliba! If you like good food and aren't afraid of a couple of calories here and there, you'll love it.

Koliba - 31-11 23rd Avenue, Astoria, NY 11105
N/W Train to Ditmars Blvd (last stop)

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Astorian Weekend Edition 06.11.08

I'm just going to start this off by telling you to go eat! It's been a little while since I've really tried new places in the nabe. Well this week, I knocked two places off of my ever-growing list! Sakura (35-15 Ditmars) and Lava Cafe (27-03 23rd Ave) are good enough to put on my "regular restaurant roster" and even bring friends. In the photos are three random, yet delish and fresh rolls of sushi from Sakura and my Lava Frittata from brunch. Both places are wonderfully affordable and remarkably fast and tasty!

Rèst Âü Ránt (30-01 35th Ave) is celebrating a year in the hood on Friday at 9 p.m. They'll have a live band, drink specials and tastings, and passed appetizers.

There's more music and flashy burlesque at Hell Gate Social (12-21 Astoria Blvd.) on Friday at 10 p.m. There should be fun things happening as it's also George's Birthday... and I quote "you need not know George for this to be an important point! If you do know George then you know that you must be present." There's no cover, why not?

Freeze Peach (22-09 29th St.) not only got a cool neon sign in the window, but now they are serving fresh crepes on Saturdays and Sundays!

Sunday from noon to 5p.m., update your wardrobe and have fun with friends galore at another Seeds of Love Proceeds will help families at Hour Children with basic necessities and grant winter wishes for New York City kids in need. As if we need any reason to go to the Beer Garden (29-19 24th Ave.)? Get your pilsner, kielbasa, AND a large selection of new, trendy, name brand clothes and accessories! Tis almost the season after all.

The Queens International Film Festival is here again. The actual event itself is being held a little off the beaten path, but the closing party is right here at Cavo Cafe Lounge (42-18 31 Ave)
on Sunday at 9p.m.