Canz (40-11 30th Ave., Astoria)
You may not have pegged me for a wings & pint kind of food blogger, but truth be told, I got my start in the restaurant industry as a server and bartender at an extremely busy and popular brewery in downtown Indianapolis. Yes, I had to keep the sports section posted behind the bar so if a patron asked for a certain game on any given television I'd at least know whether he was watching football or hockey, but nonetheless, I did develop a primal craving for an ice cold pint and a good ol' fashioned wing sampler.
When Canz opened last night for a friends and family soft opening, you had better believe I had to peek my head in to find out what it was about. And then today for lunch, when they finally offered the full menu, you can bet I was propped right back up on the bar stool to sample a few more things (of course I conned a few friends to come along for the ride each time, as well).
My initial verdict? It may not be a "gastropub" in the popular definition of the term flying around New York magazines and blogs. You won't find truffled mac 'n cheese or house made gourmet sausages. But for really, really, darn tasty Americana, this place is gonna be hard to beat. I'd even venture to say it may give Astoria's reigning golden child, Sweet Afton, a run for its money. Quite the opposite extreme in philosophy, at Canz you have over 30 enormous flat screens where they will be showing even pay-per-view events, along with all the major sports channels.
With over 45 beers on draft (including local microbrews from Fire Island and Coney Island), as well as a generous selection of bottles and cans, there's virtually a frosty beverage for every palate. From Irish Cream Ale to a Watermelon Wheat, from Boddington's to Kirin Ichiban, they've got nearly every corner of the globe covered.
We even tried the "Jungle Juice", an enormous fishbowl of vodka, rum, tequila, triple sec, orange juice, pineapple juice, and a splash of grenadine. Tacky? Maybe. But it sure was delicious. And for $30 we certainly got much more punch for the buck than if we'd ordered individual cocktails.
As soon as you sit down, endless bowls of popcorn arrive at the table, and are replenished throughout the evening until you've had your fill.
The menu ranges from goat cheese salads to a New York Strip, yellowfin tuna to homemade tacos (Taco Tuesdays will feature a complimentary Corona or Tecate beer with an order of the tacos). They even offer a lamb burger in the spirit of the neighborhood. But of course the star of the menu is the array of wings, available with buffalo sauce, BBQ, asian, terriyaki, or dirty canz wings (flaming hot). I have tried a few of the wing specials in the area, and this is where I think Canz will have almost no competition. Monday nights from 8-11 pm, $25 gets you unlimited wings and draft beers. These wings are the real deal. Crispy fried outer skin, with plump and tender chicken beneath. The Asian wings were my favorite, with tiny bits of scallion, sesame seeds, and a deliciously sweet hoisin sauce.
Another personal favorite was their barbecue pulled pork sandwich. Lean, tangy, piled with a generous portion of meat on a toasted egg bun, served with sweet potato fries (though we substitute traditional golden fries).
The roast beef dip was absolutely delicious. Thin-sliced, deliciously tender medium rare strips of roast beef are layered on ciabatta with melted mozzarella, homestyled garlic mashed potatoes (smooth, with buttery lumps of whole spuds), with a ramekin of au jus for dipping.
Generous cones of salty and tender golden fries are the perfect snack. They even offer mac 'n cheese dumplings, as well as soft pretzel fingers with honey mustard.
I am not ashamed to admit that we definitely tried, and unanimously enjoyed the deep fried Oreos with a side of whipped cream. During the friends and family tasting, they were also served with fresh blackberries and blueberries, which we missed at lunch today. Obviously with only a few hours under their belt, there are a few details to iron out. But all in all, we were certainly impressed on both occasions.
The back room doubles as a small beer garden, with license plates, hubcaps, and oak casks lining the walls; the roof retracts in good weather for an al fresco atmosphere. This will probably become a big draw for the Sunday Brunch, named Kegz & Eggs, featuring $20 fish bowls of mimosas.
Of course you will instantly draw parallels to Hooters. You can smell the testosterone in the air, and the girls are clad in denim daisy dukes with mountain boots, and black tank tops. But I can honestly say that each server we met was extremely knowledgeable about the menu and beer selection, and excited to be in the neighborhood.
It's difficult to pass much of an assessment after just 24 hours of business, but my gut feeling is that Canz is going to do extremely well. Only the second location (the first, in Westbury, NY reached an exceeding level of popularity), it maintains a genuine friendly character. The space (formerly occupied by Vibe) is impressive, and they certainly put a great deal of effort in without revealing anything in the process.
Though you will still probably find me around the corner at Mix enjoying martinis and Sunday Morning Mimosa, Canz is a little too tempting to resist on occasion.
Offering only dine-in and carry-out, they open daily at 11 am, closing at 2 am Sunday through Thursday and 4 am Friday and Saturday.