Thursday, December 16, 2010

Astor Bake Shop with beer & wine license now open for dinner

(The Astor burger with applewood smoked bacon is jazzed up with swiss cheese, cole slaw, & garlic-pepper mayo)

Astor Bake Shop (12-23 Astoria Blvd., Astoria)

Bakeries in Astoria are a dime a dozen, scattered as frequently as Starbucks in Manhattan.  But a truly spectacular, gourmet bakery like 2010's hot newcomer, Astor Bake Shop, well... places like this are one in a million.  Tonight, an intimate gathering of friends and patrons assembled at ABS to celebrate the holidays, as well as their recently acquired beer & wine license, extended dinner hours (now serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, from 7AM to 9PM weekdays, 8AM to 10PM Saturdays, and 8AM to 9PM Sundays), as well as their A-rating from the Department of Health.

Even sweeter than his stellar baked confections is chef-owner George McKirdy himself,  a superior chef of impressive credentials, having worked in such kitchens as Nobu, TriBeCa Grill, Butter, and Café Boulud prior to opening ABS, his first independent venture under his own direction and vision.

The evening began with a selection of passed small plates, many of which are featured as daily specials alongside the regular menu.  First off were shooters of an exquisitely velvety and robust butternut squash soup, with a tiny dollop of cream, and miniature diced scallions sprinkled like spicy confetti.

Next came a wonderfully light but flavorsome crab salad sandwich, with lump crab meat and chopped winter vegetables, sandwiched on a buttery, light-as-a-feather pastry, almost like a seafood eclair.

Besides slider versions of the deliciously addictive Astor burger (one of Astoria's most underrated burgers, worthy of any "best of" list, in my opinion), we also enjoyed bite-sized shepherd's pie tartlets, a hearty meat ragu on a crisp puff pastry, crowned with whipped sweet potatoes, a beautiful spin on a neighborhood favorite.

An assortment of surprisingly light but outstanding tarte flambee were also enjoyed, one with caramelized onions and cherry tomatoes, this one with salty bits of smoked bacon and white onions, like little french flatbread pizzas.

Although the savory course were genuinely sublime, any guest would be lying to suggest they had come for anything other than George's famous sweets.  You can't stare at pastries like this rustic apple tart all evening (with shaved granny smith apples, walnuts, golden raisins, and a kiss of cocoa powder) and not have a stirring in your sweet tooth.

Flawless classic gingerbread men were studded with crunchy sugar crystals that popped between my teeth, giving way to a buttery, spicy, and moist gingerbread beneath.

His version of a raspberry linzer tart cookie put any other version to utter shame.  Crunchy, spicy, nutty, star-centered cookies sandwich a sweet and tart, luxurious raspberry filling, with a slight powdery dusting of sugar.  Without contest, the most exceptional linzer cookie I have ever enjoyed.  With a glass of eggnog, I could nibble on these all evening.

An array of chewy fudge brownies, pineapple almond cakes, and other sweets circulated the room, but it was this caramel yule log that had caught my eye the moment we walked in.  This holiday treat wins the award for my favorite cake I have tasted in years.  Thin strips of extremely moist vanilla sponge cake are rolled with buttery caramel and fluffy whipped cream, draped in a blanket of even more caramel with chocolate drizzle on top.  Standing guard over this spectacular dessert is a beautiful meringue mushroom, which disappeared as quickly as the cake, like stacked teardrops of crunchy marshmallow giving way to a sweet and chewy middle.  If you go for no other reason, get yourself to the Astor Bake Shop for this dessert alone (a white mocha version is also presently gracing the display case.) 

No comments:

® All Rights Reserved by Bradley Hawks
© Copyright 2011 Bradley Hawks
All images & articles are the sole property of Bradley Hawks unless otherwise specified. Please email for permission to use.


Related Posts with Thumbnails