Outdoor Seating/Patio

Five Napkin Burger in Astoria – Long Island City

Posted on June 16, 2010. Filed under: American/Nouveau, Astoria, Burgers, Cheap Dining, Diners, LIC, Outdoor Seating/Patio |

I was invited to a preview opening at Five Napkin Burger (formerly known as Cup Diner) in Astoria. In addition to meat burgers they also offer veggie burgers and sushi. Everything was absolutely delicious and the service was flawless and friendly. Traces of a meat packing factory were brought out in the restaurant’s decor, such as the ominous meat hooks and lone light bulbs hanging from the ceiling.  This is a classy place to go for a burger or a larger social get together. They have a large oak bar, outdoor seating and a private party room for those special occasions. Here are some photos of the things I tasted- my favorite being the tempura pastrami with pickle… and of course the burger!

Five Napkin Burger 3501 36th Street, Long Island City – (718) 433-2727

tiny taco topped with pulled pork

sushi with shrimp

cilantro and onion infused burgers

lobster burgers

breaded pastrami and pickle on a toothpick

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Sweet Afton?

Posted on June 11, 2010. Filed under: Astoria, Bar-Hopping in Queens, Burgers, Cheap Dining, Outdoor Seating/Patio |

I’ve been hearing rave reviews about Sweet Afton ever since they opened. As a general rule, any bar that offers outdoor seating and caters to the hipster crowd is often overflowing with praise, whether it’s warranted or not. I was in no hurry to try this place because I figured it would be exactly what I imagined it to be; a bunch of young scenesters sipping over priced microbrews and eating overpriced novelty foods (such as fried pickles) while referencing some obscure facts about the neighborhood or their record collection they bought for 50¢ at some garage sale upstate… Oh wait, that was me. But… am I wrong? Though a pleasant place to have a drink, Sweet Afton presents a typical hipster scene in a typical hipster setting, a sight that is becoming more popular in the neighborhood as the early onset of gentrification sets in. Sweet Afton has a substantial range of draft beers to choose from for an average price of about $6, including Guinness, Red Wagon IPA, Abita Amber, Palm, Chimay Triple, Kelso Nut Brown Lager and Ommegang Witte. They also have a surprise beer of the month and a few traditional cocktails and some house specials.

Aside from the great choice of drinks, I was excited to try the food, apparently it was voted the best bar food in Astoria. I ordered the grilled cheese, toasted on pullman bread (a fancy word for regular white bread) made with gruyere cheese and caramelized onions and served with pickles and whole grain mustard. The sandwich was tasty, but I could have ordered the same sandwich at the nearby diner made with artificial Kraft slices with a side of fries and it would have tasted just as good, for a fraction of the price. Next on my plate, fried pickles. I had eaten fried pickles once before, they didn’t do much for me. Personally, I’m not a fan of the fried pickle, but diners who favor the sour delicacy will find Sweet Afton’s pickles to be on the top of the pickle pedestal. A spicy crunchy pickle is nestled in the middle of a warm and fluffy outer breading. For just a few bucks ,you will receive an entire basket of these little critters. Aside from my harsh depiction of the place, overall I did enjoy the ambiance at Sweet Afton, although I was there before the after work crowd sauntered into the bar. It can get pretty noisy during the evening hours as they are often crowded. The service was extremely warm and friendly and is enough reason to make a return visit to try their overpriced burger. Sweet Afton has beers on tap and outdoor seating for summer drinking.

Sweet Afton 30-09 34th St Astoria, NY 718-777-2570

Sweet Afton Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Fried pickles basking in the candle light

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Da Franco: Frankly, a Great Italian Restaurant in Astoria

Posted on June 10, 2010. Filed under: Astoria, Fine Dining, Italian, Outdoor Seating/Patio |

I was skeptical about this place from the start. Though it is seconds from Astoria Park, Da Franco is easy to pass by. Slightly hidden, it is located in a strip mall on the first floor of a monstrosity that some refer to as luxury condominiums. Though, don’t let the uninspiring setting deter you from experiencing a delicious meal. Despite its unfortunate whereabouts, this fine Italian restaurant is overflowing with superb Italian cuisine from one entree to the next.

The first edibles of the evening were the toasted slices of bread doused in olive oil that promptly arrived soon after ordering our drinks. As a general rule of dining, I try not to fill up on the bread, but this was the best damn plate of free bread I had ever eaten before a meal. Needless to say, I filled up. In spite of the bread basket strategy gone awry, we proceeded to order a few appetizers. My dining partners and I started the night with the fried calamari and polenta e gorgonzola; two vastly different but extraordinary introductions to our Italian feast. The calamari was crispy and fresh. The polenta was pan fried to perfection, until the golden cornmeal pudding was soft on the inside with a slightly crunchy crust then drizzled over with a rich gorgonzola sauce. The main courses took some time to make an appearance on our table, but they were worth the wait. Among them were the special of the night, grilled shrimp entree- a plate of slightly blacken shrimp with fresh vegetables. Next on the table was the red snapper oreganata, breaded broiled red snapper with garlic. My personal favorite of the evening was the homemade pasta dish, agnolotti dello chef, a spinach ravioli with salmon and shrimp in a light bourbon sauce. The little ravioli pockets were soft but not chewy, stuffed with warm spinach and seafood and covered in a hot bourbon sauce. Every meal we enjoyed was delicately prepared and presented with substantial proportions. I am so glad we finally made our way past the facade of the giant luxury building to discover this Italian gem. Da Franco offers catering, delivery, gelato stand and outdoor seating.

Da Franco Italian Restaurant 23-92 21st Street Astoria NY 718-267-0010 http://www.dafrancoitalianrestaurant.com

grilled shrimp

homemade ravioli

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Indonesian Food Bazaar in Astoria

Posted on May 19, 2010. Filed under: Astoria, Astoria Street Fairs, Cheap Dining, Off the beaten path, Outdoor Recreation, Outdoor Seating/Patio, Pan Asian |

Tipped off by the fabulous Eating in Translation blog post on food related events, my dining companion and I decided to try the once a month Indonesian Food Bazaar. We hopped on our bikes and pedaled as fast as we could, arriving just in time to catch the last half hour of this delicious event. Situated in the parking lot of the Masjid Al-Hikmah mosque, this party takes place every second Sunday during the spring and summer months. You don’t have to be religious to enjoy, all you need is a big empty stomach. For lack of choice in Indonesian restaurants, this is a place in which people can go to enjoy the food of their native land while socializing with others. Everyone was extremely friendly and willing to share their culture, friendship and food with us. Striking up conversations with the locals was easy. Here are some of our photos of the bazaar. I hope to return next month. Some things we ate- soy dumplings with peanut sauce, pork and chicken kebabs, a hot ginger/coffee type drink, colorful fruity concoctions with tapioca, rice and beef wrapped in banana leaves and indonesian empanadas.

Indonesian Food Bazaar Masjid Al-Hikmah, 48-01 31st Ave., Astoria, Queens

enjoying sweets

dumplings, banana leaf and green tapioca drink

kebabs and more

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Oktoberfest in Queens

Posted on September 23, 2009. Filed under: Astoria, BBQ, Cheap Dining, Free, Outdoor Seating/Patio | Tags: , , |

Celebrate Oktoberfest this weekend at the old standby- the Bohemian Beer Garden, drink beer in rain or shine!

“Doors open at 12 noon, rain or shine, under our huge outdoor tents. Enjoy your favorite beer and plenty of food. Live entertainment. Free – no admission charge.”

octoberfest_2009_1

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Queens County Farm Corn Maze

Posted on September 17, 2009. Filed under: Floral Park, Off the beaten path, Outdoor Seating/Patio | Tags: , , |

Searching for Clues at the Amazing Maize Maze

Searching for Clues at the Amazing Maize Maze

Just another sign that autumn has officially begun-  it’s time for the Amazing Maize Maze at the Queens County Farm! The adventure is not only for kids, but adults will equally enjoy the event. Your iphone GPS system may get you through alphabet city, but this kind of roaming requires you to grab your flag and search for the hidden clues that will lead you to the finish line. Set far from the hustle and bustle of the city streets, getting lost in the corn has never been so much fun.

The season kicks off Sunday September 19th 11am-4:30pm  at Queens County Farm 73-50 Little Neck PkwyFloral Park, New York 11001 and will continue Saturdays and Sundays through November 1. Also on the farm event schedule is a haunted house, live animals, a hayride, hot apple cider, hotdogs and a pumpkin patch for creating that perfect jackolantern. Check website for details and dates.

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Queens County Folk Festival Sept 13

Posted on September 10, 2009. Filed under: Art, Flushing/Corona, Free, Music & Dance, Off the beaten path, Outdoor Seating/Patio |

Tour the entire world of music in one day. Visit Queens College for an afternoon of music, food and fun from around the globe. Click here for a detailed facebook schedule of the day’s events.

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Say Goodbye to August in Queens

Posted on August 23, 2009. Filed under: Art, Astoria, Flushing/Corona, Free, LIC, Music & Dance, Outdoor Seating/Patio |

kite flying in flushing

kite flying in flushing

Has this rainy excuse for a summer made you feel like you’ve missed out on all the fun you should have been having? August is nearly over but here are a few ways you can say goodbye with a bang or at least a pop.

Visit the Sunday Sessions at the Rise on the Ravel hotel. LIC’s ultra trendy rooftop bar. Equipped with big comfy lounges, DJs, cleavage, muscles, and tans- all within the brilliant New York City skyline.

The nights are hot, cool down with some beer and flamenco at Studio Square– Astoria’s hip new beer garden. David Castellana vocalist/guitarist will be taking you on a musical Spanish journey at 8pm August 25th.

If it’s culture that you’ve been lacking- take the 7 train to the Queens Museum of Art for the August 27th Uruguayan celebration. Don’t forget the final day for the Passport Fridays is August 28th. Get in-tuned with Taiwan dance, music and film starting at 6:30pm.

Art in the Park- Astoria Park hosts Landscape Photography– Get ready to for some mid-afternoon exposure  to some breathtaking views of Manhattan’s skyscrapers, the East River, the RFK Bridge and much more. Bring your own camera. Sunday August 30 12pm

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