Date Spot/ Romantic
Agnanti Meze the romantic Greek restaurant over-looking Astoria Park expanded to a second location in Brooklyn in 2006 (a reader informed me when this actually happened). I went to the location in my neighborhood in Astoria and noticed the staff sporting new brightly colored orange t-shirts with ‘Agnanti Meze’ stitched on them. The traditional Greek eatery seems to be gearing their menu towards tapas dishes. Sauntering in on a warm Saturday evening, my dining partner and I were once again pleased with the provisions we ordered. Agnanti consistently supplies hungry diners with succulent park-side Greek cuisine. Settling into the rustic restaurant we started our smorgasbord with grilled octopus, a greek favorite blackened to perfection. We washed it down with some red wine and taramosalata, a delicious tangy carp roe spread. Next on our palates was the tyrokeftedes sifnou or the cheese and herb croquets that are fried in a crispy shell and filled with hot cheese and herbs. The next dish is the simple and hearty lima bean creation hailing from Constantinople, fasolia plaki. Baked in olive oil and diced vegetables, this dish resembles the regional peasant fare. No matter what your picky taste buds had you thinking as a youth, your inner child will embrace this lima bean concoction. You will feel right at home in this semi-upscale restaurant when the waitstaff greets you in thick Greek accents and pleasantly guide you along the menu. Agnanti in Astoria serves lunch and dinner with outside seating available.
Agnanti– 19-06 Ditmars Blvd , Astoria – (718) 545-4554 & 7802 Fifth Ave., Brooklyn, NY 11209 718-833-7033
Dutch Kills Bar in LIC has been infamously described by using phrases like off-the-beaten-path, speakeasy, and for the love of god, mixologist. It has a reputation for making patrons feel like they are a part of some elite members-only club, a marketing ploy that reels in customers by creating delusions of grandeur. This place makes ordinary consumers feel cool and sophisticated simply by selling them fine vodka served by a guy wearing suspenders. I too fell victim of its coolness for several reasons. Despite the pretentious air that flows through the bar, my experience was neither unpleasant nor disingenuous. Settled into a barren strip of Jackson Avenue, Dutch Kills doesn’t draw an overwhelming crowd, thus it serves as a place of quiet conversation during happy hours. The impeccable service is surprisingly down-to-earth and courteous. The old fashioned oak booths aligned on both sides, each with its own menu nailed to the wall, are reminiscent of a typical watering hole from years gone by. There is an antique phone, cash register and other knickknacks that hang there as if they were never touched by the present time. Conjuring up images from another era is easy as you watch the bartender romancing your drink rather than mixing it. Clad in suspenders, a button-up shirt and trousers, he cleverly maneuvers his way around the bar, skillfully preparing your cocktail as he squeezes juice directly from the orange rind and breaks ice with a metal spoon right into his own hands. I tried a Sunset Park with peach infused liquor, though slightly bitter it was a refreshing break from the hot summer evening. The cocktails here are as interesting to drink as they are to watch being made. The polite service and constantly amusing scene will make me come back. Live music weekly.
Dutch Kills Bar 27-24 Jackson Avenue Long Island City, NY 11101-2918 (718) 383-2724
Luckily, the drunken noodles (also known as pad kee mao) at the Green Curry Thai restaurant in Astoria won’t give you a hangover, but they will give you a reason to adjust your belt. Diners will find it difficult to keep from devouring the entire dish in one bite. The tender pieces of chicken and broad noodles doused in a spicy fish sauce intermingle with red peppers, scallions, sprouts and chili. Green Curry makes this dish to satisfy palates that have moderate spice tolerance, but if your taste buds crave the heat you can ask them to make the entree hotter. I like the dish prepared spicy, but not sinus clearing. This version did the trick. There is more about this place than the food that will keep you coming back. The set-up is trendy, but casual. It’s a great place to either take a date or dine with a friend. Cutomers will also find that the servers are friendly and on the mark. They don’t ask you if you are still working. After all we’re not working, we’re eating and eating is an experience that should not to be rushed. Besides offering traditional dishes and lunch specials, Green Curry features authentic spicy salads, Yums- like larb gai ground chicken marinated in chili and yum goon chieng, a chinese sausage soaked in lime juice, cucumber and chili. I am sorry it took me such a long time to try this place. I will surely return.
Green Curry Thai Restaurant 35-13 Ditmars Blvd Astoria 718-777-7013
La Rioja (33-05 Broadway 718.932.0101) will supply the food- but you need to bring the bottle, at least until they acquire a liquor license. Equipped with a bar, fine Spanish tapas, entrees and a small market hocking Spanish meats, cheeses and imported sweets situated in the back of the restaurant, this place is suitable for both evening diners and quick bites to-go. A region located in northern Spain, La Rioja is known for the Haro Wine Festival, but you’ll be hard pressed to find any grapes in this place. Aside from the lack of regional beverages, the food here is a cut above the average tapas. Acorn fed pigs make their way to Astoria as a pricey delicacy, Jamon Iberica de Bellota, at $20 a pop this pig must be savored slowly. La Rioja also offers Serrano Ham as an inexpensive palatable substitute. The Pulpo a la Feiro, boiled octopus doused in a paprika and olive oil is a tender mouth-watering delight for the semi-adventurous. Looking for an alternative to the standard Gazpacho? Try to the Crema de Mariscos, a savory concoction of vegetables and seafood swimming in a bowl of rich, creamy broth. And of course encouraged at every Spanish dining experience, the bacon wrapped dates are succulent morsels both sweet and savory to accompany any dish. The prices here are reasonable and the service is friendly and warm.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
The temperature drops, and so do the leaves.
Holidays approach sporting pumpkins and wreaths.
Carving the turkey you notice one thing is missing,
A significant other for hugging and kissing…
Here is a fun event in Forest Hills for Queens singles… the opportunity to meet and date a New York Hero. Sparks create fires, get a fireman to douse those flames… or find a paramedic to revive your boring winter blues… reservations required.
DATE A HERO SPEED DATING EVENT
“When- Saturday October 24, 2009 at 7:15pm
Where- Casa Postinos 107-02 Queens Blvd Forest Hills, New York 11375
Who- 7:15pm Group B- Men 36- 46 / Women 34-44, 9:30pm Group A –Women 23- 34 / Men 25-35
With proper ID proof of employment NYC Firemen/women, Policemen/women and Paramedics will enter the event free of charge.
Non-Uniformed Ladies and Gentlemen pay $38 includes SPEED DATING PARTY, 1 Free Drink + Appetizers & RAFFLE prize to win Dinner
Call 631 592-9804 or sign up on web site- http://7-in-heaven.com/schedule.html“Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
La Vuelta (10-43 44th Drive LIC 718-361-1858)
Hidden on a side road surrounded by nothing- sits a quaint and unassuming Latino bistro. La Vuelta offers a menu that is a turn from the conventional South American fare usually found in New York. Some might call it fusion or nuevo- I just call it plain good. Everything about this restaurant from the intimate setting to the reasonable prices to the friendly service and of course to the food- is a pleasant experience. The row of unique hanging lanterns guides you into a dimly lit restaurant that is decorated with paintings of old cars. Immediately after you sit your server bestows your table with a basket of plantain chips and garlic dip. Staring with a nachos, a dish large enough to feed the entire table. The plate topples over with baked jack cheese and a white bean puree. The grilled shrimp with coconut rice and pineapple jalapeno is a tender arrangement of all tastes sweet and hot. The plank roasted tilapia (pictured) with roasted red beets, rice and pepper escabeche adds traditional latin ingredients to form a colorful palate. The buttery tilapia is slightly crisp on a bed of fresh herbs and vegetables. The grilled tuna steak with sauteed vegetables and five pepper salsa is an entree overflowing with zest but not overpowered by seasoning. It is appropriate to end a cold wintry night with La Veulta’s seasonal cocktail- the Grand Marnier hot chocolate- a steaming hot tin pitcher of cocoa and milk with the essence of bitter orange. If you still crave dessert- the baked apple empanadas are doused in sweet syrup that is sprinkled with jalepeno pepper. The wine list is short, but offers nothing but quality choices like a fruity Malbec or Camenerie. The small restaurant is still a sleeper so the weekend dinner crowd is limited and short lived. La Vuelta may be off-the-beaten-path but it’s worth the detour.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 2 so far )
Vesta Trattoria and Wine Bar (21-02 30th Ave 30th Ave N/W train or Q69 bus) isn’t going to change your world of culinary experiences. It is however, a fantastic place to go for a romantic night of Italian eating and drinking. The thing that makes Vesta a unique step above other restaurants, is that you can order wine by the shot, glass or bottle. This is an affordable and practical phenomenon, and puts fine dining within reach. Shot glasses of wine start at $2.50 and glasses around $7. There are bubblies, whites and reds to choose from- mostly small regional labels imported from Italy. The red Salice Salentino offers a fruity dry taste similar to that of a fine Malbec and the white Gravina is fruity and tart. The appetizers and sides like the crispy seared brussel sprouts or the beet salad are simple and elegant dishes that compliment almost any meal. The potato and pancetta pizza is an unusual combination of meat, starch, apples, goat cheese and a sweet caramelized onion sauce (in place of the traditional tomato sauce) topped with arugula . The fresh vegetables and meat are arranged on a thin crispy crust large enough for two. At Vesta the three meat lasagna isn’t oozing with molten cheese or bursting with flavor. It is a more refined and simpler version of what diners might otherwise normally encounter. The service is genuinely attentive and down-to-earth. It is a blend of neighborhood friendliness with a romantic edge. The atmosphere provides a youthful hipness with Cold Play, Interpol and The Gossip playing on the stereo without being pretentiously unwelcoming. Vesta stays loyal to the local economy by purchasing artwork and baked goods from the surrounding neighborhood. They are open late, serve brunch, offer a great date spot at very reasonable prices.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 2 so far )
Manducatis Rustica (46-31,33,35 Vernon Blvd 718-937-1312) better be damn good, as they take up three addresses on the famed Vernon Blvd. There are three parts to this pizza/cafe shop- the kitchen with the giant brick oven, the coffee/dessert shop and the actual dining room. They offer brick oven pizza, though not by the slice, traditional Italian food, freshly baked breads, gourmet coffee and the best of all, sweets- pastries sprinkled in powder sugar and tasty gelato- from chocolate to banana to jasmine to blueberry. Not to be mistaken for the original Manducatis on Jackson Ave, this place offers a new kind of dining atmosphere to LIC. Its quaint rustic feel goes beyond the traditional exposed brick walls. Walking into the cafe you are transported to what resembles an old fashioned dessert parlor. There’s an antique cash register, old photos, even the curtains are reminiscent of decades gone by. The counter offers a window side bar to prop yourself on for some snacks. There are also tables in the back for more substantial fare. Manducatis Rustico is a unique addition to LIC.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 1 so far )
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