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Barton's Bites

Food from a guy's perspective

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Queens

Taste the Best of Italy This Weekend

Looking for something free to do this weekend? Head to Tutti Matti, a new restaurant in Long Island City, for a free tasting of homemade pasta, pizza and original cocktails.

Details are below – see you there!

When: Saturday, April 2, 2016 from 1:00 PM to 3:00 PM (EDT)

Where: Tutti Matti – 47-30 Vernon Boulevard, NY 11101

RSVPhttps://tasteitalianfood.eventbrite.com

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Two Thumbs Down for Tacuba Cantina Mexicana

On Friday, Hailey and I decided on a little dinner and movie date night. We settled on Tacuba and, well, hindsight is 20/20. If you ever want to see what a restaurant that’s truly overwhelmed looks like, Tacuba was a perfect case study.

After grabbing a table and waiting 15 minutes for a waiter to appear, we ordered some guacamole and margaritas. An hour and a half later, we were scraping the guacamole bowl and wondering where our entrees were. In talking with our neighboring diners, they lamented that they had been waiting more than two hours for entrees. The excuse the waiter provided, the kitchen prioritizes easy dishes and harder dishes get deprioritized. Moral of the story, don’t order hard dishes to make?

We decided to cut our meal short and get out of there. Looking back at it, we paid around $50 for two margaritas and avocados. Restaurant fail. We won’t be going back.

PS – We saw Deadpool and it was awesome. Go see it. Now.

Tacuba Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Bareburger Updates Its Menu

Bareburger – 33-21 31st Avenue, Astoria, New York (and various locations)

That’s right, Bareburger is rolling out an update to its menu across all locations. I checked out the Astoria location recently and was shocked when my old favorites were no longer on the menu. (I wasn’t alone. There were lots of people asking the waiters what happened to the menu.)

The new menu is more robust than it used to be, with brand new burger combinations, sides, salads and sandwiches. I gave the Blue Elk burger a try.

Bareburger Blue Elk Burger
Blue Elk Burger

Elk, Amish blue cheese, country bacon, stout onions and tomato fig jam. How could you go wrong?

Bareburger Onion Rings
Onion Rings

Don’t worry, the onion rings and fries basket combo is still on the menu… and still just as good.

The Verdict

Bareburger changed its menu and the world didn’t end. The burgers, onion rings and fries are still just as delicious as before. I love this place and for similar Bareburger lovers, the menu refresh gives everyone a lot more options to try! 

Check out my old post on Bareburger to compare. 

The Sandwich Bar

The Sandwich Bar  33-01 Ditmars Blvd, Astoria, New York

The DItmars area of Astoria is turning into quite the food hot spot, and I’m not talking about the traditional Greek restaurants that Astoria is known for. Ditmars is being built up with an eclectic food culture spanning your traditional Greek to new American to Australian and everything in between.

One such place, The Sandwich Bar, is the perfect spot for a relaxed, low-key lunch.

The Sandwich Bar Astoria

The Sandwich Bar is a small spot with limited inside seating. However, they have a good amount of outside seating so if it’s a nice day out opt for some sun. The delicious menu consists of various appetizers, burgers, hot and cold sandwiches and salads.

Sweet Potato Tots The Sandwich Bar Astoria
Sweet Potato Tots

Sweet potato tots come out piping hot and covered in salt. They’re served with a side of spicy chipotle aioli. Delicious.

Braised Brisket, Chili Mayo, Roasted Peppers, Corn, Onions The Sandwich Bar Astoria
Braised Brisket, Chili Mayo, Roasted Peppers, Corn, Onions

The braised brisket sandwich is covered with chili mayo, chopped roasted red peppers, corn and onions. I’ve never had corn on a sandwich before but it was really good. This sandwich has lot of flavors going on, but the brisket emerged the winner. This sandwich wasn’t for clean eaters either. It was a mess to eat, but well worth it!

Braised Brisket, Chili Mayo, Roasted Peppers, Corn, Onions The Sandwich Bar Astoria
Braised Brisket, Chili Mayo, Roasted Peppers, Corn, Onions
Greek Yogurt Chicken Salad, Apple Wood Smoked Bacon, Tomato and House Sauce The Sandwich Bar Astoria
Greek Yogurt Chicken Salad, Apple Wood Smoked Bacon, Tomato and House Sauce

Yes, they also serve 1/2 salad, 1/2 sandwich options. The Greek Yogurt Chicken Salad wasn’t a favorite for Hailey. However, it was an upgraded version of a chicken salad sandwich, with large pieces of chicken breast used instead of your usual mixture of chopped chicken mixed with lots of mayo.

The Verdict

I don’t know if I’d consider these to be gourmet sandwiches, but The Sandwich Bar is trying to play in that space. I don’t think they’ve quite made it to that level, but the sandwich I had was really good and unique – I’ve never had a sandwich with corn on it before. I’d head back to The Sandwich Bar in a heartbeat if I’m looking for a relaxed, low-key lunch spot. 

The Sandwich Bar on Urbanspoon

Grilled Cheese Waffle at Ovelia

Ovelia has recently stepped up its game in the brunch arena. I’m a huge fan of their stuffed French toast, but they now have a grilled cheese waffle. Check this thing out.

Ovelia Grilled Cheese Waffle

That’s right. A grilled cheese waffle filled with cheddar, mozzarella, kefalograviera and manouri cheeses, fresh dill, scallions, and sauteed kale is served with marinara sauce.

Ovelia Grilled Cheese Waffle

Flo Lounge Restaurant

Flo Lounge – 37-20 30th Avenue, Astoria, New York

Flo Lounge Restaurant balances the best of both worlds – relaxing, casual daytime ambiance, and a late-night DJ-fueled dinner/drinks atmosphere. I checked them out over the weekend and they delivered a solid (and cheap!) brunch deal.

At $15 for coffee, a drink and your pick from a number of outstanding brunch options, Flo puts up a good argument for a weekend brunch stop. They have ample outdoor seating for those warm upcoming summer days along with a spacious modern indoor space.

Southwestern Benedict at Flo Cafe Astoria 2
Southwestern Benedict

The Southwestern Benedict is just one of the great choices off the brunch menu. Pulled pork is served on toasted biscuits topped with poached eggs and a heavy helping of cheddar cheese and spicy chipotle hollandaise.

Southwestern Benedict at Flo Cafe Astoria
Southwestern Benedict
Teriyaki Terror Bill Apter at Flo Cafe Astoria
Teriyaki Terror Bill Apter

The Teriyaki Terror Bill Apter himself chowed down on a grilled chicken teriyaki salad. That’s soba noodles, seasonal vegetables, field greens and sesame ginger dressing with thick strips of grilled chicken breast.

The Verdict

Flo is a solid prix fixe brunch option on 30th Avenue in Astoria. If you’re really looking to take advantage of the weekend, they also offer a $10 all-you-can-drink option as an add-on. Lots of great menu options, a spacious, modern atmosphere and service to please – Flo gets my vote!

Flo Lounge Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Bartolino’s Fine Italian Pizza

Recently, Astoria has gone through a pizza revolution. With spots such as Milkflower and Antika opening up, pizza is front and center. One of the newest pizza spots in this traditionally Greek mecca is an extension of Bartolino’s Italian Ristorante.

Situated right next door to the already existing Bartolino’s restaurant, Bartolino’s Fine Italian Pizza is a small place with seating for about twenty. It steers away from the “old world” feel of Bartolino’s next door and has a modern, updated feel to it with rich, dark wood contrasting against the traditional Bartolino’s red.

Bartolino's Alla Norcina Pizza

We ordered the Alla Norcina pizza – tomato, mozzarella, mushrooms and spicy sausage. Our eyes were bigger than our stomachs and the large was WAY too much food.

Bartolino's Alla Norcina Pizza

Bartolino’s loaded up the pizza with toppings. There was a lot more sausage and mushrooms than I expected. However, they didn’t overdo it with the cheese – there was just enough to cover the tomato sauce and help bind all the toppings to the pizza.

Bartolino's Alla Norcina Pizza

This pizza had a delicious crunch to it, despite a heaping of toppings. The bottom was covered in tasty cornmeal that helped give it that authentic pizza flavor. The sausage was surprisingly spicier than expected, but welcomed as it contrasted against the mild mozzarella cheese.

The Verdict

I’d definitely head back to Bartolino’s for the pizza. The pie we had was delicious, had a nice crunch to it and the sausage kicked it up a notch with some spice. This was definitely traditional New York pizza at its finest – thin crust, delicious toppings, simple. 

Bartolino's on Urbanspoon

1682 French Louisiana: New Orleans’ French Quarter in Long Island City

1682 French Louisiana – 48-19 Vernon Boulevard, Long Island City, New York

Aside from the wonder that is Bourbon Street, New Orleans is known for its incredible food culture. Now, in a Long Island City cafe formerly known as Cranky’s, 1682 French Louisiana is bringing the French Quarter to the city.

The owners, Mina and Jimi, have transformed this former coffee shop into a French/Cajun restaurant. The interior pays homage to its coffee shop roots by still giving off a “coffee shop vibe.” And service with a smile is something you’ll definitely get here. Mina makes it a point to make her way to every table, greeting everyone with a friendly “Bonjour!” and sitting with those that want to chat into the night.

I was recently invited in to check out the menu and chowed down on some delicious dishes.

Creole Style Fries 1682 French Louisiana

We started off with some Creole Style Fries. These very thin and crispy fries were piled high and served with an avocado dipping sauce. They were coated with an addictive Cajun seasoning that had me grabbing them by the handful.

Creole Shrimp and Goat Cheese Crepe 1682 French Louisiana

One of the favorite dishes of the night was the Creole Shrimp and Goat Cheese Crepe. This appetizer consisted of a crepe filled with goat cheese and topped with shrimp and a creole butter sauce made with white wine. This dish gave my taste buds an immediate spicy kick that was quickly offset by a flood of delicious goat cheese.

Crab Meat and Avocado Terrine 1682 French Louisiana

Unfortunately, this wasn’t a favorite of mine. A thick bed of avocado was topped with a layer of crab meat and sour cream. The appetizer was very light and refreshing, but it struggled to find any real defining flavor.

Shrimp and Andouille Jambalaya 1682 French Louisiana

Shrimp and Andouille Jambalaya 1682 French Louisiana 2

Just look at that presentation! Another favorite of the night was the Shrimp and Andouille Jambalya. A generous amount of shrimp and Andouille sausage was served over dirty rice. This was all surrounded by a precisely placed wall of mussels. Delicious, delicious, delicious. The dish had just the right amount of kick to it and was extremely flavorful. It was served with a doughy homemade Cajun biscuit. I’d order this again in a heartbeat.

Cajun Brook Trout Fillet 1682 French Louisiana

The Cajun Brook Trout Fillet came sitting on wild rice and spinach, bordered by a rich-colored beet sauce. The fillet was perfectly cooked and there was a lot of it. The spinach gave off a healthy appearance, but it had a very buttery flavor so I’m assuming it wasn’t giving me those Popeye health benefits (I wasn’t complaining). This, combined with the sticky wild rice, made for a perfect combination.

Bourbon Coconut Bread Pudding 1682 French Louisiana

Time for dessert. Bourbon Coconut Bread Pudding sat in a pool of bourbon cream sauce. You could taste the alcohol in this rich and moist dessert, and it was damn good.

The Verdict

1682 French Louisiana has a lot of competition to deal with, with lots of ethnic restaurants dotting the surrounding blocks. However, after my experience, I think they’ll do just fine. The food was delicious all around and the service made it feel like home. True care was clearly placed on the presentation as every dish came out looking incredible. I’ve heard the weekend brunch here is packed, but I plan on giving it a try very soon! I highly recommend 1682 French Louisiana. And for those of you in Manhattan, it’s not that far away! 

1682 French Louisiana on Urbanspoon

Restaurant Information


* Restaurant Name
Cranky’s Café
* Overall
★★★☆☆
* Neighborhood / Cuisine
Hunters Point / Cajun / Creole
* Street Address
48-19 Vernon Blvd. (Between 48th Ave. & 49th Ave.), Long Island City, NY 11101
* Phone
(347) 738-4921

All-You-Can-Eat Barbecue at The Strand in Astoria

We Heart Astoria, one of the top blogs in Astoria, will be announcing the winners of its annual Best of Astoria Awards – and it’s doing so in style. They’re partnering with The Strand Smokehouse for an all-you-can-eat, all-you-can-drink party on Thursday, March 27 from 6-9 p.m. Tickets are $35/each and they’re going fast! Buy your ticket now!

We Heart Astoria The Strand

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