“I’m going to take you to a real Queens institution,” my pal said. “Someplace you’ve never been. When we pulled up to the corner I saw a spot I’ve been hearing about for years, Cherry Valley Deli & Grill. For a guy who’s tasked himself with writing about sandwiches every Wednesday it’s amazing I’ve never been to this neighborhood institution boasting more than 80 sandwiches with fanciful names like the Bushman (chicken cutlet with bacon, brown gravy and American cheese on a toasted garlic hero) and the Z-Zoo (grilled chicken with bacon, mozzarella, nonion rings, and brown gravy on a toasted garlic hero). (more…)
Kickshaw’s ‘Hero’ eats like veggie version of a roast pork Italian.
Astoria’s Queens Kickshaw might be best known for its fancy pants grilled cheese sandwiches, but the other day I tried a sandwich there that was far from dainty. Listed simply as Hero ($13), I like to think of it as a vegetarian version of a Philadelphia roast pork Italian sub. This is mainly because the ingredients feature plenty of broccoli rabe and provolone in addition to fried eggplant and sauteed peppers and onions. It’s the best vegetarian Italian sandwich I’ve had in Astoria, mainly because it’s the only one I’ve had. Faint praise aside, it is a lovely gooey hot mess of a sandwich. I only wish there were some hot cherry peppers and sauteed garlic on it!
The Queens Kickshaw, 40-17 Broadway, Astoria, 718-777-0913
“They should call this place mei you xiao long bao,” I cracked to a buddy on one of my first visits to The Bund, a newish Shanghai spot in Forest Hills. Two chefs from Shanghai and nary a soup dumpling in sight. Apparently the guys who started it wanted to make the point that Shanghai cuisine consists of so much more than XLB.
I’m not sure if they made their point, but I’m happy to say that they’ve changed their minds about XLB. They recently introduced soup dumplings to the menu. Today I stopped in with some friends for a steamer full of pork and another of pork and crab. The skins were a bit on the thickish side, but they were fine otherwise, certainly the best in the hood. As long as they don’t start selling those ridiculous novelty dumplings with the straw the Bund is all right by me. (more…)
After two decades of eating around New York City I finally got my fress on at Eisenberg’s Sandwich Shop last week. Funny thing is my first job out of college was right around the corner. I’m not sure what kept me away back then, but these days the proximity of Ben’s Best Deli to my home does a good job.
But back to Eisenberg’s. Gotta love a joint whose slogan is “Raising New York’s Cholesterol Since 1929.” That cholesterol along with plenty of schmaltz and New York attitude has also managed preserve the old school deli tradition.
My pal Drew, clearly an old hand at dining in the joint’s bustling lunch time atmosphere, humored me as I briefly considered the shrimp salad sandwich. “I always get the combo Reuben,” Drew said. Between his cajoling and the waitress’ claim that it was “the best thing in the house,” my choice was made, and I am glad it was. And it wasn’t just any plain vanilla Reuben either, but a combo of pastrami and corned beef. Well worth it for $13, too. The dynamic duo of deli meats, kraut, and cheese almost put me in an old school deli coma. (more…)
Violet’s house special bánh mì with grilled pork, Vietnamese ham, Vietnamese salami.
Friends and neighbors had been telling me about Violet’s Bake Shoppe in Forest Hills for months. First, there was talk of lovely egg tarts and Vietnamese iced coffee. And then, they hit me with the big guns, bánh mì. The Vietnamese sandwich is one of my all-time favorites, so I hightailed it over to Austin Street.
There I found a respectable roster of 10 Vietnamese sandwiches, including a House Special ($6.50), Baked Fish with lemongrass and turmeric ($6.95), and a Pâté Supreme ($6.50). I almost went for the Pâté Supreme, but I’m a bánh mì traditionalist, so I opted for the House Special. (more…)
Mr. Crispy, Astoria’s answer to the croque monsieur.
Culinary hyperbole is as much an occupational hazard as it is a way of life these days. In the race for web traffic, social media likes, and a desire to stand out everything becomes the best. The sense of discovery and wonder that drives me as a food writer is all too often lost in a sea of superlatives. So l when my dear friend and Astoria denizen Connie Murray started raving about a certain grilled cheese being the best, I took it with a grain of gruyere. After all how could good can a grilled cheese be?
I’d been to Astoria Bier & Cheese before. While the grilled cheese I tried was tasty it left my appetite for killer content unsated. “You know I think I’ve had this before,” I said to Connie of the Mr. Crispy ($11) as we munched on some excellent house pickles. (more…)
An ice cream sandwich truly worthy of the Lower East Side.
I have to say that I didn’t really grow up eating chocolate babka. In all likelihood I have probably partaken of the sweet, dense Jewish cake no more than two or three times. And one of those times was at Russ & Daughters Cafe in the form of ice cream sandwich. That’s right, a chocolate babka ice cream sandwich filled with chocolate babka ice cream no less.
Like many things at the Lower East Side appetizing shop, this newfangled treat comes wrapped in wax paper bearing the famous fish logo. There’s no sturgeon, sable, or nova inside though. Instead there’s a marbleized mashup of an ice cream sandwich. For the record it, makes a fine dessert after some new catch Holland herring.
The Giuseppe, Astoria’s take on Philly’s roast pork Italian.
The late great Josh Ozersky once said that I had forsaken my Italian-American heritage to eat my way through the Chinese food courts of Queens. He was partly—well, really mostly—right. When I find myself in need of comfort and familiarity though, there’s nothing quite like a good Italian deli.
I am a huge fan of the ladies at Leo’s Latticini in Corona and their food. They know how to make this Italian boy feel right at home. I am lucky to live so close to their shop. Lately I have been exploring the Italian delis of Astoria. My favorite so far might be Rosarios. Under the el Rosario DiMarco serves up old-school Italian-American comfort food in the form of killer Margherita pizza and more than a dozen sandwiches. (more…)
Back when I was a third-tier line cook in a pub, we used to keep pea shoots in house. They were great in salads and even better to munch on in the walk-in whilst shirking my duties. I would never have thought to put the peppery shoots on a breakfast sandwich. That’s exactly what Brothers, a new concession at Rockaway Beach, has done though.
It’s tempting to think of Brothers $8 breakfast sandwich as a merely an Egg McMuffin gone green, but it’s really a locals only breakfast sandwich. Those pea shoots come from a garden on Beach 97 Street, and the spelt flour blend muffin is made by local baker Diwa.
Queso fresco and poblanos give this chicken sandwich a Mexican accent.
Will Horowitz is the type of chef who pickles, smokes, and ferments anything that isn’t nailed down. He’s a cook who creates flavor combinations as vibrant as any modernist chef, not with rotovaps and liquid nitrogen, but with decidedly old-school techniques, and not in a sleeve garter steampunk poseur fashion either. He’s the type of guy who does his own foraging and who reduces poblano chilies to cinders to sauce a smoked chicken sandwich. (more…)