As a current Manhattanite, I am pretty clueless outside of the home borough. I am figuring out Brooklyn at a respectable pace, with the various street names becoming more and more familiar as I trek out to eat new delicious foods. But Queens? Up until this point, my destination has only ever been Flushing to get choice dim sum or other good Chinese cuisine. That’s a long ride.
Hooray for Long Island City! There is no excuse for not taking the subway to this gem of a restaurant. It is probably a longer ride to Union Square from GCT, and the Hunters Point stop is right next to the restaurant for additional convenience. My aforementioned cluelessness led us to get off at the Vernon Blvd/Jackson Ave stop accidentally (oops!), so we had to walk through a semi-creepy and desolate block from the other direction, but all in all, it is really not difficult or scary to get to this place!
Once you’re inside, it’s like night and day. The retro diner decor makes you feel like you’re in a bygone era:
We had a bit of a wait since we were part of the mass wave of people following the footsteps of NYTimes’ Sam Sifton and the just-published Time Out New York review, but it wasn’t too bad and the hostess (who I think was the co-owner Sarah Obraitis, or least an amazingly good doppelgänger) was very nice, thanking us for our patience. I think we did ok without a reservation, but I highly recommend getting one since they only serve dinner on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays right now. Given the number of people coming through the door, it seemed tough for the restaurant to get everyone a seat at the exact reserved time, but those people were, of course, given priority once seats cleared up.
In the end, we got nice counter seats, and I actually recommend these over the booths/tables because you get to see the open kitchen action up-close. We chose a couple of cocktails, which I absolutely loved Loved LOVED. The menu descriptions are simple, but the taste and presentation were tops. High class yet casually fun.
There was the J.F.K. Harris (white rum, lemon juice, sugar, mint, red wine) in a coca-cola glass:
And the M. Gibson (gin, dry vermouth, brine, orange bitters):
Onto the food. Deciding what to eat was agonizingly difficult. Everything looked really good. We decided to go with their Queens Clam Chowder, which was served in a huge tureen (maybe too huge, a small baby can probably take a bath in this thing!). Luckily, it contained about 3 servings, perfect for two hungry people.
We didn’t get it with the optional fois gras (extra $10), which was for the best because the soup was quite rich already. I’m starting to think I’m some kind of salt whiner, but the flavorful broth was a tad bit too salty in my opinion. The stuff IN the soup, however, was a totally different story. As someone who constantly suffers the indignity of barely-there clam bits in most of the chowders I consume in restaurants, this dish was like winning the clam lottery. The clams were BIG, PLENTIFUL, and FRESH. Did I just see a whole piece of mussel in there too? Oh my god.
Then we had the escargot and bone marrow, which was absolutely decadent:
Not wanting to have to be carted home in wheelbarrows, we finished up by splitting a slice of coconut cream pie, which was absolutely the right choice.
Ahhhhh! It looks so simple and benign, but once you dig in, it just hooks you. Not too sweet, not too gloppy puddingy, a crust that doesn’t overwhelm the cream, and just the right amount of whipped creme.
We left feeling quite satisfied, but before walking out the door, what did I do?
I made a reservation for next week.