Showing posts with label brunch. Show all posts
Showing posts with label brunch. Show all posts

Friday, April 19, 2013

Jack & Coke French Toast is what's for brunch at The Shady Lady

The Shady Lady * 34-19 30th Ave, Astoria * (718) 440-9081

Go ahead and start making your weekend brunch plans now, because you just might want to spend both Saturday and Sunday sampling the outrageously delicious sunrise recipes Chef Billy Pappas has created for The Shady Lady.  Pictured above is the chicken biscuit... a homemade buttermilk biscuit topped with crunchy fried chicken, melted cheddar, crispy bacon, and a blanket of country-style sausage gravy.

Does the syrup above look slightly more mahogany than your classic Jamima?  That's because it's a reduction of Jack & Coke.  A delicious, sweet twist on an exceptional version of the brunch classic.  They even do a version with a croissant and whipped cream.

I flipped over this skillet of appropriately named 'back to bed mac & cheese,' with al dente pasta shells in bechamel with cheddar and bacon, and a soft-centered egg baked into the top layer.  My friend and I nearly sword-fought with our forks for the last few bites.

On the lighter end of the spectrum are a plate of Greek yogurt with a mixed berry compote, falafel wraps, oatmeal with cinnamon and bananas, or this egg white frittata studded with cherry tomatoes, spinach, and goat cheese.

These homemade biscuits are absolutely flawless, and should at least be ordered as a side--or better yet under the corned beef hash benedict with giant savory cubes of corned beef and country potatoes under a generous ladling of creamy, citrusy hollandaise.

The Kentucky Hot Brown is another one to send you crawling home for an afternoon nap, but man oh man, is it delicious!  This open-faced sandwich is piled with roasted turkey, grilled tomatoes, bacon, and a velvety mornay sauce that is toasted to golden-crusted perfection.

One brunch cocktail plus a juice or coffee is included in the price, though $20 can add on a bottomless brunch of bloody mary, mimosa, or house sangria.  Though The Shady Lady eventually plans to serve brunch on Fridays, as well, presently brunch service is only from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.

The Shady Lady on Urbanspoon

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Pizza for Breakfast at Tufino

Tufino's new brunch pizzas will be available this coming weekend
Tufino Pizzeria Napoletana | 36-08 Ditmars Blvd, Astoria | 718-278-4800 |

Tufino Pizzeria Napoletana has only been open a few weeks on Ditmars in Astoria, but already Pizzaiolo and Owner Stephen Menna is changing things up a bit.  Besides a killer lunch special ($10 for a choice of soup with either a margherita pie, marinara pie, or panini), he has been gradually working on a fried version of his pizza, along with a few pie-shaped brunch specials.

The deep-fried and decadent version of the neapolitan pie begins with the hand-stretched crust dropped in the fryer, removed, crowned with sauce and fior di latte, then baked in the oven for the perfect marriage of toppings.  Excess oil is cooked off in the gourmet inferno, resulting in a crispy-coated, chewy-centered crust reminiscent of a large savory zeppole or funnel cake.  

The pizza is essentially an open-faced version of the fried calzone already available on the menu--a standout favorite of patrons--stuffed with fresh ricotta, fior di latte, prosciutto, and black pepper.  Other outrageously delicious fried treats at this friggitoria (Neapolitan fried treats shop) include enormous potato croquettes stuffed with fontina and prosciutto, grapefruit-sized arancini plumped with sausage, and a soppresata-stuffed loaf of breaded mozzarella.

But the real reason for rejoicing is Menna's new addition of brunch pizzas, available on the weekends beginning this coming Saturday.  The version above is topped with fontina, pancetta, crumbled Italian sausage, and leeks, with two eggs cracked directly on the pizza before baking.  Other variations will include a maple-sausage pie, literally a sausage pizza drizzled with maple syrup--all of which make pizza in the morning an actual event to anticipate rather than merely chilled leftovers from the night before!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

New Dishes at Locale

Almond brownie with peanut butter and marshmallow topping with a dollop of vanilla ice cream
Locale | 22-02 34th Ave, Long Island City | (718) 729-9080 |

Don't arrive in a hurry.  Not because the service is lax.  To the contrary, it is rather attentive and refreshingly sincere.  Just plan to take your time ordering.  Ask to see the desserts first, because you will want to save room for a strawberry napoleon or the almond-studded brownie topped with a creamy pillow of homemade peanut butter, then draped with a blanket of whipped marshmallow that has been brulee-torched for a thin, crispy outer coating.

Passion fruit martini
Also allow yourself a few moments to drink up the beverage options.  Passion and pumpkin martinis incorporate luscious purees, but someone at the table should try Rosemary's Garden, a classic-style martini (and first course all on its own) with rosemary-dill infused vodka and a floater of crisp sauvignon blanc, garnished, of course, with a blue-cheese stuffed olive.  After you've determined the opening and finale of your meal, then debate over a colorful menu of starters and entrees worthy of multiple repeat visits until you try them all.  If you haven't sampled the new additions to the menu at Locale, I would highly recommend adding it to your to-do list this holiday season... and with a high priority.

Jumbo lump crab cakes with melted leeks and chipotle creme fraiche

At Locale, owner Johnny Koljenovic aspires to offer “a taste of the city without having to travel there.” With the expertise of Executive Chef and culinary visionary Jesse Davis (who returned to Locale after the unfortunate closing of Lucas Steakhouse), the team at Locale is achieving just that… and much more. “Families come for brunch, take the kids home, and then bring friends back for an elegant dinner,” smiles Kolyenovic.

By day, sunlight floods in through two floor-to-ceiling windows creating a cheerful openness.  By night, the glow of candles lights the entire street corner like a giant, serene luminary.  The restaurant is one of those rare chameleons that appeals to nearly every demographic, offering intimacy at window-side tables for two, communal space for larger parties, a vibrant bar for solo supping, and an elevated split-level lounge with sprawling banquettes for groups of friends.  A popular spot with nearby professionals of the film and television industry (Kaufman Astoria Studios is just around the corner), Nurse Jackie has filmed several episodes at Locale, and Life on Mars hosted its wrap party here.

Take just one bite of any of Chef Davis’s dishes, and it’s no secret why the stars and locals keep coming back again and again. Delicately balancing artistry with fresh flavors, the menu features gorgeous plates using only organic, locally sourced ingredients. Blackened Mayan Shrimp is served like a Jenga tower over a log cabin of yucca fries and a moat of tangy creole purée.

The cartoonishly plump thumb-sized homemade gnocchi get dollops of creamy fresh ricotta and a slathering of robust herb-roasted tomato ragu with a sprinkling of salty, crisped shallots and shaved cheese ribbons.

Pan-seared organic salmon with chive whipped potato and pinot noir reduction

The platings are as beautiful as they are delicious. But the most beautiful part? Unlike dining in the city, there is no waiting for a train or cab for the trek home after.

Locale on Urbanspoon

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Not egg-sactly your typical brunch

Scotch eggs at The Queens Kickshaw (pickled quail eggs in panko-crusted sweet potato over a garlic-leek confit)
The Queens Kickshaw | 40-17 Broadway, Astoria |

Only open for just over a year, The Queens Kickshaw has already swept the "best of" title in a variety of categories from several respected publications: the best mac & cheese (New York Magazine), the best coffeehouse (The Village Voice),  one of the best restaurants in New York (Details Magazine), the best grilled cheese (New York Daily News), the best hard cider (The Queens Beat), even the best pick-up spot in Western Queens (Boro Magazine).  So when the accolades are rolling in from every direction, what can you possibly do to crank it to the next level?  You launch a killer, one-of-a-kind, "egg-centric" brunch.

Until today, the only sunrise menu offering was this delicious cheese crisp toasted brioche with egg, ricotta, thyme, and maple hot sauce.  Though it remains on the daily menu alongside such grilled cheese favorites as the Gouda (with guava jam, pickled jalapenos, and black bean hummus), today a new brunch menu is unveiled, which will be served alongside an edited version of the regular menu on Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.  "We have wanted to do this for a very long time," smiles Ben Sandler (co-owner alongside wife, Jennifer Lim)... "this" meaning a "brunch menu of standard and exotic egg dishes with a twist."

Chef Youngsun Lee
"We've been working on this off and on since September, really..." explains Chef Youngsun Lee, whose credits include substantial kitchen time at the original Momofuku Noodle Bar, CraftBar, Blue Fin, and even two of his own endeavors, the Kimchi Taco Truck, as well as Persimmon in the East Village.  Juxtaposing his Korean heritage (he immigrated to Flushing at age 12) and culinary training, guests can expect some playful, inventive, quite sophisticated dishes on the new brunch menu--all the while maintaining a harmony with everything else that is TQK (the plates are all egg vegetarian.)  Here's a photo rundown of the new items you can expect to see on the brunch menu starting today (as well as the scotch eggs at the heading)...

The steamed Egg Custard balances the fine line between a "western version of chawanmushi and an eastern version of egg custard," explains Lee.  "Chawanmushi can be too light and thin sometimes, and western egg custard can sometimes be dense, so we tried to find a balance."  Soy milk and heavy cream add a surprising, consistent velveteen smoothness that maintains even as this dish cools.  Jeweled with red peppers, gruyere cheese, and a dollop of ricotta it makes for a perfect light, but exquisite brunch.

The Eggs & Miso Butter are the stuff of which dreams are made.  This dish is something I cannot easily describe, but will not soon forget.  Cranberry walnut toast serves as the pedestal for what can best be referred to as an umami benedict, which is blanketed with ribbons of luxurious miso butter, a glistening pair of Japanese-style cold poached eggs, and tangy mounds of pickled mustard seed "caviar".  The plate is runny, messy, and exceedingly satisfying.  By the time you master how to balance each component on a forkful, the plate is finished.  Though I attempted to show restraint as I sampled several egg dishes during my visit, this was the one that I absolutely had to devour in its entirety.

The Egg Salad is TQK's "nod to deli salads" explains Sandler, although those plastic containers never contained anything this good.  Served with homemade flatbread, the egg salad is made with both hard and medium boiled eggs, resulting in tiny orbs of glistening orange yolk adding a playful texture to the all-American classic.  Accompanying is a bowl of potato-beet salad tossed in a refreshing homemade lemon aioli.

And just wait 'til you get a bite of this french toast, a morning grilled cheese of perfectly custardy toasted brioche with a sweet and slightly tart hard cider pear compote, all crowned with a crisp, peppery chili frico adding crunch and a subtle kick.

TQK's twist on a sunnyside egg and home fries is this layered potato cake.  Wafer-thin gruyere scalloped potatoes are baked to golden, served alongside two eggs.  

Eggs with fingerlings and roasted vegetables will change seasonally with the market, but presently the dish is gorgeously prepared with tender balsamic glazed brussels sprouts.

What egg menu would be complete without an omelette?  TQK serves two beautiful renditions, a quattro formaggi (pictured) with gruyere, cheddar, manchego, ricotta, caramelized onions, and shallots--as well as a farmers market omelette with gruyere, red pepper, tomato, and shallots.

The other house favorites appearing on the brunch menu include the classic grilled cheese (above), the gouda, the egg & cheese sandwich, mac & cheese, the kitchen sink salad, and the orange caramel bread pudding.  New brunch cocktails range from a red pepper Michelada to a ginger shandy and sparkling cider sangria.

Congratulations to the entire TQK family on what is certain to soon be acclaimed as yet another best...

The Queens Kickshaw on Urbanspoon

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Queens Comfort on Eyewitness News PLUS New Lunch Special

The new croque monsieur bread pudding with a fried egg is outrageously delicious.

Queens Comfort | 40-09 30th Ave, Astoria | 718-728-2350

It's no secret that Queens Comfort is one of my favorite places to nosh, so it was an honor when I was interviewed by ABC 7's Lauren Glassberg for her feature on the comfort kitchen which is scheduled to air today, May 18,  at 5 p.m. during the Neighborhood Eats segment (does this mean my mug might be menacing yellow cabs next week on Taxi TV?!)  The featured recipe for the segment: the Cap'n Crunch Chicken Fingers with red chili bacon caramel sauce, of course!  Just for the record, Lauren Glassberg seems extremely charismatic and pretty on television--but in person, she is actually stunning, and very generous in sincere conversation.  I was already a fan, but witnessing her work last week was affirming of her genuine talent.

After singing the praises of Queens Comfort, I was asked by a nearby diner if there is anything I don't particularly care for.  After all, you can't love everything about everything, right?  Upon consideration, I suppose my only criticism would be that the menu is sometimes overwhelming in options that make you drool.  Unless you come toting a gaggle of friends ready to share a smorgasbord, it's likely you'll walk away bummed you didn't have the ravenous hunger demanded to sample everything that catches your eye.

Biscuits & Gravy

Take, for example, two new dishes that appeared this week on the menu.  First comes buttermilk biscuits and a maple cheddar sausage gravy with cayenne, sage, rosemary, and thyme.  A decadently creamy, savory and sweet spin on the comfort breakfast classic (delightfully served here for lunch and dinner).  Or the real kicker that hasn't left my taste memory since I first devoured it--a croque monsieur bread pudding with black forest ham, gruyere, fontina, and a passionate kiss of dijon mustard.  Top it with a fried egg and turn that mister into a madame.  See?  How on earth do you choose which one dish to enjoy?

Egg McRuffin'... an open-faced English muffin with bacon, gouda, cheddar, béchamel, & a fried egg 

As if Queens Comfort read my mind, this week they launched a fantastic new lunch special.  For $14.95 you can choose one starter, one entree, and one dessert from a broad selection of menu items (items qualifying for the lunch special are denoted on the menu with an asterisk).  Slightly more manageable portions of a variety of delicious dishes at a great price is reason to celebrate.

Jalapeño Hushpuppies with lemon pepper ranch

The starters on the prix fixe included their grilled Mexican street corn, bacon scallion or three leek mac & cheese, or homemade jalapeno cornmeal hushpuppies.  Mains range from a fried green tomato sandwich to a peanut butter & jelly burger, as well as their famous chicken & eggo waffles.  Desserts, rotating frequently, vary from s'mores bread pudding to homemade ice creams, which have recently included walnut fudge brownie, or even a version with actual strawberry rhubarb pie mixed in, crust and all.

Strawberry rhubarb pie ice cream with actual bits of crust

Now that's real comfort food...

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