New York Dog House

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I’ve wanted to share some love for New York Dog House for a while now. I finally captured a few shots over lunch the other weekend. So, here it is!

It was a sunny Saturday, but Chelsey and I skipped the sunshine in search of a bar to watch the World Cup. We wanted a welcoming, relaxed atmosphere so we settled on New York Dog House.

NYDH offers a thoughtful spin on the classic hot dog. The menu caters to a variety of tastes, from the “Far East Dog” (num pang topped with sesame chili paste, pickled daikon and scallion) to the “Cowboy” (cheddar bratwurst smothered with caramelized onions, crispy bacon, pickled chipotle, and house BBQ sauce). There are also several vegetarian options, including various salads, macaroni and cheese, and a veggie dog made of a farro and market vegetable blend. The restaurant also features an extensive list of seasonal and signature craft cocktails named after your favorite dogs or Astoria spots.

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We started with drinks. I sipped on the “Summer Fling” – a lovely blend of gin, St. Germain elderflower liqueur and seasonal ingredients. Chelsey enjoyed the rum, whiskey and brandy infused “Pitbull.”

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For lunch, Chelsey ordered the sausage grilled cheese with spicy kielbasa. She noted that the portion was just right for such a robust sandwich. I opted for the “California Dog,” substituting weisswurst for cheddar bratwurst. The topping consisted of a mix of fresh avocado, sliced lettuce and springy red onions. The light toppings and hearty bratwurst were quite delightful.

california-dog-astoria

Check out NYDH’s Twitter, Facebook or Instagram for news and events.

More NYDH love:
Astoria Arrivals: New York Dog House – We Heart Astoria
Welcome to the Neighborhood: New York Dog House – Tastoria Queens

Fatty’s Cafe is Back

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Last night, Astoria’s Twittersphere burst with the news of Fatty’s Cafe’s official reopening. My Sunday plans immediately went out the door, particularly since the new spot is exactly 9 (Nine. N-I-N-E!) minutes from my doorstep. So instead of washing the loads of laundry beckoning for some attention or storing away the winter clothes taking over my closet, I headed over for their first brunch.

Tucked away on 28th Avenue and 45th Street, the location is light and cheerful. The menu stays true to its roots unchanged. I ordered my usual – the polenta cakes topped with provolone and a side of black beans. Gah, those slightly sweet, savory cornmeal cakes are just heaven every single time. Baalok also had his usual – the breakfast burrito. We ate and ate, leaving giddly content and happily waddling home in a food daze.

fattys-brunch-astoria  fattys-astoria-burrito

Although the opening is bittersweet, Fatty’s new spot is pretty awesome. The bright space is bathed in Caribbean blue paint with a pale yellow bar housing an eclectic bar tap made of a guitar amp and microphones. As always, the owners Fernando and Sue were gracious hosts, taking time to speak to everyone. Eventually there will also be an outdoor patio; they hope to have it open by summer. I can’t wait to go back.

Check out the new design at We Heart Astoria.

First of the Month: April

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Happy April! At the first of each month, I’ll be sharing what’s on my to-do list for the four weeks ahead, whether it be in the kitchen or Astoria. April highlights include a local favorite reopening and Queens Beer Week. What are you excited for this month!?

1. Fatty’s reopens! Yesterday, the Village Voice’s Fork in the Road reported that Fatty’s Cafe (!) is opening on 28th Avenue in mid-April. Their sweet little polenta cakes stacked with provolone are so simple and delicious. I’ve tried recreating them at home and it’s just never the same.

2. Astoria Performing Arts Center Raffle. We Heart Astoria spread some community love and support about APAC’s new fundraiser. Ticket buyers could win an iPad, a “Taste of Astoria” prize and gift certificates to several local restaurants and shops.

3. LIC Flea. The food and flea market opens this Saturday at 10am. For more info, check out their website.

4. A weekend getaway to D.C. with Baalok. This has nothing to do with Queens or cooking. However, the anticipation of this weekend just makes me warm and giddy with excitement.

5. Spring cocktails. Let’s celebrate spring with one of these light and refreshing cocktails from The Kitchn.

6. Queens Beer Week. According to DNAInfo, Queens Beer Week kicks off April 19th. 9 glorious days will showcase Queens’ burgeoning beer scene and local breweries.

 

 

The Bao Shoppe

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After reading about The Bao Shoppe on a round of Astoria sites (We Heart Astoria and Tastoria to name a few), I ventured over to the new Steinway spot this past Wednesday. The quick, casual restaurant serves “baos inspired by Asian and American flavors.” In other words, it specializes in a boa (a delicate, airy puff of a steamed bun) stuffed with fillings such as tender pork belly and pickled onions.

Baalok and I headed over for a late dinner when the crowds had cleared. So we were fortunate enough to have the owner’s full attention. He was immediately welcoming and even had the courtesy to take us through the entire menu. We settled on the Smokey Pig (stuffed with pulled pork), O.G. (braised pork belly) and the Colonel Bao (fried chicken) and Shoppe Fries.

I was a bit hesitant about the Shoppe Fries. The Asian twist features a generous portion of french fries topped with kimchi, spicy mayo, BBQ sauce and daikon. My naive doubt immediately drifted away after one bite. The sandwiches were equally delicious. The Colonel Bao with juicy fried chicken topped with pickled slaw and spicy mayo was my favorite.

bao-shoppe astoria-bao-shoppe

The Bao Shoppe also serves a bevy of bubble teas and other iced tea variations. The vegetarian options are somewhat limited. However, according to their Facebook page, they’re experimenting with more vegetarian combos. So stay tuned. There’s also a small gallery of local artwork in the back. It’s always nice to see some creative, community support!

Anyways, it’s good, really good. So just go, please. Now.

The Bao Shoppe is located at 30-66 Steinway between 30th and 31st Avenues. Join them on Twitter or Facebook for the latest specials and sandwich selections.

Side note: Truthfully, I never had the pleasure of tasting a bao sandwich until moving to New York. For those of you who have never had a boa sandwich, read this recent article, “10 Reasons The Bao is The Best Sandwich You’ve Never Tried.” Specifically, The Bao Shoppe serves gua boa; the bun is sliced half open resembling a taco-like slider. This variation comes from Taiwan.

spring bucket list

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Lately, the weather has been toying with the thought of spring. So like many Queens residents right now, I’m dreaming of picnics at Astoria Park, a crisp ale at Bohemian Hall or an impromptu day trip to Rockaway Beach.  Fortunately, spring is a week away and we’re slowly wakening from the winter hibernation. Here are a just few spring activities I’m looking forward to:

Astoria Flea & Food at Kaufman Astoria Studios
Every Sunday May-June

MoMA PS1’s exhibition “Taster’s Choice”
March 23-May 25

Outdoor brunch at new restaurant Marketa
Every Saturday!?

Astoria Bookshop’s Creative Writing Workshop with Emily Herzlin
April 10

Relaxing at Gantry Plaza State Park in Long Island City
Every Sunday?!

Conquering a spring dessert, like these lemon, poppy and chevre cheesecakes with rhubard

snowdonia

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Last Saturday night, Baalok and I ventured to Snowdonia, a cozy, trappist-style gastropub. Tucked away at the corner of 35th Avenue and 32nd Street, the neighborhood spot serves local craft beer and quality pub fare. Many of the signature dishes feature the beer selections on tap as ingredients

The atmosphere is immediately warm and inviting. Dining benches line the tables and soft industrial pendants add a nice glow. For an appetizer, we shared the Ploughman’s Plate – a plate of ricotta cheese, house-made olive tapenade, pickled onions and pork spread. I’m not sure my palette is refined enough to have appreciated the pork. However, the fresh ricotta, juicy olive spread and perfectly pickled fat slices of onions were so good. I mean seriously good. Served on lightly buttered, grilled bread, the ingredients blended into a simple delight.

Baalok ordered another delight – the last steak-frites left for the night. Like many men, he has very high standards for steak. I’ve never heard him say a steak is good. He only mutters a doubtful, “It was okay,” or grumbles about an overpriced dinner. BUT for the first time in our 3-year relationship, he said, “Wow. That steak is really, really good.” (!!!) Really, really good means he loved that 16oz rib eye. Apparently, it was absolutely cooked to perfection – juicy and tender with just the right amount of seasoning. I don’t even eat beef, but that meal looked downright mouthwatering.

On the other side of the table, I enjoyed a generous portion of mussels soaked in a beer broth. The P.E.I. mussels were equally satisfying – plump and tasty. We topped the night off with glasses of Peak Organic Fresh Cut Pilsner while “Superbad” played on the TVs above the bar (a nice change from the typical sportscast). We both left in a happy daze patting our swollen food bellies. The relaxed environment, great service and delicious food were right on point. We can’t wait to go back.

Follow the Trappist Times for Snowdonia’s food and drink specials and upcoming events. Another plus, they also serve brunch.

birthday barhop

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Last night, I celebrated my birthday with a few close (absolutely wonderful) friends and the ever-growing row of bars on 30th Avenue. We started off the night at Front Towards Enemy, a new spot quickly gaining notoriety for its expertly crafted cocktails.  The girls enjoyed the Bow & Arrow, a tangy mix of mezcal, bourbon, lime and pineapple juice. The guys preferred to keep it simple with a Spiked Whiskey or Doc’s Brandy.  I chose the Monkey Fist, a delicious snowcone-like concoction of rum, pisco, lime, orange and grapefruit topped off with a kick of cayenne. We didn’t order food, but the drinks and dark, cozy atmosphere definitely warrant future visits.

Next stop was longtime fixture MexiBBQ for its 45 beer selections on tap. Later we finished the night off at Bourbon & Vine, a playful meets industrial designed gastropub relatively new to 30th Avenue. My friends risked the Voodoo Astoria, a strong mix of Bacardi 51, orange liquor and hot sauce. Meanwhile, I nursed a shot of Goldschläger and a glass of water… Needless to say, all bars were great and hospitable, and we laughed the whole way home in a stupor.

P.S. If you love 90s music, visit Bourbon & Vine!