Friday, April 8, 2011

I seem to recall a glowing, bright orangish-yellowish orb in the sky.


Tree Planting Tomorrow

Just a reminder about the big tree planting event tomorrow morning. 

Make New York City a little greener

JetBlue and New York Restoration Project (NYRP) are teaming up once again to do One Thing That's Green! Join us on April 9, 2011 as we plant hundreds of trees in Forest Hills, Queens!

In September, tornadoes ripped through Queens leaving once lush areas looking vacant. Trees are a vital part of the environment, especially in New York City, and by recommendation of the City of New York, JetBlue and NYRP will partner to revitalize MacDonald Park and surrounding areas.

Bring your friends and family for an exciting day of outdoor activities that encourage active living! Breakfast and lunch will be provided, and all volunteers will receive a One Thing That's Green branded t-shirt. There will be activities for the entire family throughout the day.

Register now and check back for updates in the coming weeks. All volunteers must register and complete a waiver. Young adults ages 14 to 17 must have a signed waiver from a parent or guardian to participate. Kids younger than 14 are welcome with an adult and they'll be plenty of activities for everyone.

Do your One Thing That's Green! Together with our partners NYRP, 106.7 Lite FM, 103.5 KTU and Power 105.1, JetBlue will make a lasting difference on the community and continue to evolve our commitment to greening the Big Apple.

When: Saturday, April 9, 2011
Where: MacDonald Park, Forest Hills, Queens
Time: 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
What: One Thing That's Green tree planting and activities!

Here is a link to more information about this event:

I Want To Go To This

Disney broke ground Friday on its newest resort, in Shanghai, China.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Restaurant Recap

Given all the restaurant news over the past couple of weeks, I thought this would be a good time to recap where we stand:

New Places I will Frequent:

Agora Taverna - I've already been to this great new Greek restaurant on Austin twice. The first time I had the whole fish Branzini, which was excellent. And the second time, the Filet Mignon kabob, which was so tender and delicious I can't wait to have it again. Not to mention just the overall look of this new restaurant. The atmosphere is so airy and inviting, I feel good just walking into the place.

Q Bistro - This restaurant has been reborn on Ascan with modern American cuisine (it used to be a very popular Thai restaurant). I have been there once since it reopened and found the food pretty good - I wouldn't say excellent, but quite good. The place is also very relaxing and inviting - like a nice Manhattan restaurant. Some of the prices are a bit high, but there are also some very reasonable selections as well. And they have a nice selection of wine. I am very impressed with the creative menu, though. There were quite a few dishes I want to go back and try. Also, where it is, off Austin on Ascan, also adds to the overall kick-back-and-unwind feel of this very promising new restaurant.

Energy Green - This new make-your-own salad place is tucked away on the lower level of the Austin St. mall. I've both gone to the place and also had it delivered. The salad was quite good. Everything was fresh and tasty. I also had the lentil soup and a tuna fish wrap another time. The soup was fine, not great. Their tuna, eh... I would stick with Gotta Getta Bagel on 71st Continental if I want a tuna sandwich.

New Places I will occasionally go to:

Exo Cafe - My thoughts about this place is it is where I might take friends for a few drinks and a light bite who come to Forest Hills for a visit. The food was not good enough, however, that I would frequent it. But for drinks -- they have a nice selection of craft beer on tap -- and maybe a few appetizers, it fits the bill!

New Places I Found Disappointing - So Far:

Marianella's Taqueria - The old, brown lettuce they served me with my tacos yesterday, and the sight of crusty old toppings (hummus?) at the counter,  really put a damper on what was a pretty damn good grilled chicken burrito!

New Places I Am Really Looking Forward To:

La Boulangerie: From what we know, this will be a French restaurant/cafe/bakery with lite fare like croissants and freshly made breads. Just what we could use here in the Hills. Located just off Austin on 72nd. Road, it would be great if they throw a few tables outside in front. That would truly be magnifique! (And that is just about the extent of my French, thank you very much.)

Emily's Sugar Rush: We suspect that this will be a cute new candy store, at the corner of Austin St. and 72nd Ave. But that is not confirmed as of this time. But how cool would that be? (Yes, I know, it's not technically a restaurant.) UPDATE: My trusted roving reporter confirmed with a worker inside the store late Thursday that this indeed will be a candy store! 

If you know of another restaurant or store coming into the Hills (oh, Shake Shack, maybe, etc..), well,what are you waiting for? Let me and EOTC's readers know!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Edge of the City Early Review: Marianella's Taqueria

I just devoured two tacos and a burrito from the new Marianella's Taqueria, which opened today on 71st Continental. It was a decidedly mixed culinary experience.

I ordered the Taco Twosome for $5.95. This was two hard-shelled tacos, one ground beef and one chicken. They were ok, not great. But I have to say that I brought them home and by the time I got them home they were a little cool. So I would reserve judgement on them. One thing I have to point out for certain though is they serve the tacos with a lot of lettuce. And the lettuce seemed a bit old. It was brown in some spots. A Big NO NO!

I also ordered the Grilled Chicken Burrito for $7.95. This was much better. It actually was pretty damn good. I had it with refried beans, some type of smoked salsa, cheese, and yellow rice. Quite tasty indeed! There were times I would have sworn it was a burrito from Chipotle or another higher-end fast food joint.

I washed it all down with a medium Pepsi for $1.85. It was slightly flat. Another big NO NO!!!

As for the atmosphere of our newest Mexican restaurant, all I can say is it is just plain odd. First of all, when you get up to order the menu sign is overhead and behind you so you have to remember what you want from a rather unique and even a bit complicated Mexican menu. So I found myself constantly straining my head and stepping back from the counter to remember what I wanted to order!

Also, the fact that there is a regular bar in the restaurant makes it a bit schizophrenic of an experience. What is it doing there? It is like two places in one - A mid-market Mexican take-out restaurant and a bar.

And one other observation. As I was picking out all the different toppings, I noticed some crusty
old looking offerings - I think it may have been hummus or something like it. Not appetizing! Please keep your food fresh!

Now, for my grades:

Taco Twosome: B (I am giving it the benefit of the doubt because as I said it was a bit of a while before I ate them at home. Hopefully they are better fresher. But the brown-looking salad is plain inexcusable!!)

Grilled Chicken Burrito: A

Beverage (Pepsi): C

Food Quality: C (Big No No's: Brown lettuce, and crusty old looking toppings at the counter. I am not giving them a lower grade because it is opening day and I am chalking it up to opening day growing pains. I will have to go back in a week or so and see how things are going.)

Atmosphere: B (Nothing really special. It's not really upscale though. I greatly preferred the look and feel of Green Cactus which used to be on Restaurant Row here in Forest Hills a few years ago.)

Overall Grade: B- (I am giving them the benefit of the doubt. I do hope indeed the next time I go I do not see wilted brown lettuce and crusty old toppings!!) I would place them above the Fresco Tortillas Chinese/Mexican combo restaurants that are all over the city (and that we have two of right here in FoHi), but below Chipotle in terms of overall upscale atmosphere and quality.

Non-Story They're Trying to Make Into A Big Story

Donald Trump running for President. He has even less of a chance than Newt Gingrich in defeating President Obama. For me, I don't even have to know his positions on anything. It all comes down to his hair. If someone cannot manage his hair situation, he is not fit to be President.

We're All Fu*@ed, Again

Wow, Mother Earth sure has been resilient. First, she had to contend with tons of oil being spilled for months and months, and now her next challenge? Tons of radiation. I am sorry, but something we are doing is just not working. Time to reevaluate. There's only so much abuse a living thing can take.

Company Says Radioactive Water Leak at Japan Plant Is Plugged
Published: April 5, 2011
The company that runs Japan’s crippled nuclear power plant said that it had plugged a crack in a maintenance pit that had been gushing highly radioactive water into the ocean.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

More on Windsor 2 Project

The Daily News has an article today with lots of juicy details about Cord Meyer's plans to build the CVS, an underground parking garage, and eventually a high-rise building (the on-again, off-again "Windsor 2"), all on the north side of Queens Blvd. next to the Key Food.

Good news for the one Key Food lover who lives here in Forest Hills: It will remain open through the entire construction of the building, which is scheduled to be finished by the Fall of 2012. Oh, and all the stores were supposed to be out of there by last Thursday.

Sad price of progress as businesses cast aside by Forest Hills developer

Poll Results, and This Week's Poll

It occurred to me I never released the results of the poll from all the way back on February 21. Boy, how time flies. It feels like I just started that poll. Anyway, here are the results:

A total of 22 people voted.

The economy is:

Improving - 10 votes (45.45%)
Worsening - 6 votes (27.27%)
Hasn't really changed since the Recession began: 5 votes (22.73%)
Other answer - 1 (4.55%) - "Worsening in actuality, but fake numbers are showing improvement"

Now, on to the new poll:

A Revitalized Austin St.

I guess this is what makes New York City so special. A year ago, heck, maybe just several months ago, our main shopping district, Austin St., seemed in the doldrums with empty storefronts popping up from one end to the other. What a difference just a few months makes! Consider the following new businesses that have either opened in the past month on or just off Austin, or are about to in the next few:

  1.  Agora Taverna (fantastic new Greek restaurant)
  2. The newly reopened Q Bistro (a new modern American format for what used to be a Thai restaurant)
  3. Exo Cafe (a new relaxed venue for some drinks and lite fare)
  4. Marianella's Taqueria (a new casual Mexican eat-in/takeout restaurant)
  5. Emily's Sugar Rush (a new candy store?)
  6. La Boulangerie (a new French restaurant/bakery?)
  7. Energy Green (a delicious new make-your-own salad place)

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Inside Marianella's Taqueria

Here's a look inside the new Mexican restaurant, Marianella's Taqueria, on 71st Continental, which opens this Wednesday. Note the bar way up front, near the counter, to the left. Click on the pics for a better view, especially the second one.

Filing date
January 20, 2011
Premises name
Marianella's Taqueria LLC
License number
License status
License type
On-premises liquor
License allowing on-premises consumption of liquor, wine and beer and sale of beer for off-premises consumption. Food, such as soups and sandwiches, must be served.
Effective date
February 28, 2011
Expiration date
January 31, 2013

Saturday, April 2, 2011

New French Restaurant/Bakery Coming to Austin?

Drat! Possibly more bad news for my waist line.... again.

Yes indeed... more information coming in today about a new French restaurant / bakery called La Boulangerie coming to Austin St. and 72nd Road. A reader posted a comment about it yesterday, and now one of my roving reporters confirms that a sign has gone up, along with decorative black awnings.

I did a Google search and found a French cafe type restaurant of that name in several cities across the US, including Chicago. Also, there is a restaurant called La Boulangerie located on the Upper East Side, serving up baked goods and sandwiches. But I can find little more information, aside from a few assorted reviews. Here is an excerpt from one of them:

The place is small, charming and inviting. As soon as you walk in, you see the various freshly baked bread and French delicatessens. I wanted to eat everything but we all decided to order crepes. We ordered the peasant one (brie cheese, fig jam and walnuts), ratatouille (goat cheese, red peppers and something else that was delicious I can't recall) and another crepe that had mushroom and chicken. They were all savory and divine. 

I have no idea if this is the same place, but here is the Yelp! link for the one in Chicago:
La Boulangerie - Logan Square

God, I'm getting hungry....

Friday, April 1, 2011

Edge of the City Introduces Digital Subscriptions

Due to the incredible popularity of my blog, yes, the long-time rumors are true, I have been forced to implement a new digital subscription plan. Here are the choices you have in order to gain access. The Edge of the City Board felt these were quite reasonable:

1. Clean my apartment building of all mothballs for me.
2. Build me a series of Whole Foods stores where the Key Foods currently are located.
3. Move the Forest Hills Trader Joe's to somewhere on Austin, so I can actually shop at it.
4. Convert the Forest Hills Tennis Stadium into a year-round Farmer's Market/Eataly East gourmet, organic food complex.
5. Build me a Shake Shack where the Blockbuster is closing.
6. Close Queens Blvd. permanently to all traffic.


Thursday, March 31, 2011

Energy Green Photos

As promised, here are my photos of the new make-your-own-salad place, Energy Green, which just opened on the lower level of the Austin Street Mall:


This post was almost too much for me to bear, but I got through it!!

Though I love Springtime more than any other season, especially here in New York City, there is one, enormously upsetting downside for me: the reemergence of those very very creepy multi-legged long bugs. I have no idea what they are called, but about this time every year, the first weeks of April, lo and behold I inevitably find one of them arrogantly perched somewhere high on my apartment wall, just sitting there staring at me like it owns the place.

I readily admit to being squeamish about a bunch of things in this world (see my post about those annoying anti-smoking commercials!), but I have to say these bugs really take the cake.

I guess they kind of look like this... God help me. I can't even bring myself to make this photo as big as it can be on my blog because it creeps me out so much... Bed Bugs? I am sorry, but this is what I worry about:

What's the Rush?

I'm just back from a quick jaunt out West and it looks like there's been quite a bit of buzz building over this new shop coming in, "Emily's Sugar Rush,"at Austin and 72nd Ave. Some are speculating it will be an upscale candy store like Dylan's in Manhattan.

Another store that I went into before I left and will post some pictures of this afternoon is this new make-your-own salad place on the lower level of the Austin St. mall on Austin, Energy Green. Not the best name perhaps - I can never remember it and I keep confusing it in my mind with those "Energy Kitchen" places in Manhattan. But anyway, the owner was very friendly and I promised him I will be back to try the salad. I do know from a quick look that the offerings looked very plentiful - there were a lot of different dressings and toppings. This type of place we have desperately needed here in FoHi. Finally, we have a make-your-own salad place like just about every other neighborhood in the City!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Agora Taverna - Mini Review

I'm out of town for a couple of days, so this will have to be a quick review. Before I left, I went to the new Greek restaurant, Agora Taverna, on Austin, for the first time. I think the food is excellent. I will give the place a strong A. Everything was fresh and delicious. I ordered the Branzini (whole fish) for the main course and found it absolutely delicious. Someone else had the chicken kabob and absolutely loved it. For an appetizer, I had the tzatziki. This I found could have been a bit more flavorful. For dessert, I had a Greek coffee, which was really good. I will definitely be going back soon. I haven't had such a great piece of fish in a while, and certainly not in Forest Hills. This is a great addition to our neighborhood.

My Branzini was absolutely delicious. 

The chicken kabob was also excellent.

They also said they will have outdoor seating when it gets a little warmer. That will really liven up this entire corner. I can't wait to see how that adds a touch of cosmopolitan flair worthy of a NYC neighborhood to our shopping district. Finally, good things are starting to happen on the core strip of Forest Hills!

Agora hired a world-class architect and it really shows. There are many little touches - flower pots overhead, white stones in the floor when you walk in - and some big touches as well - the ceiling and the overall color scheme are just fantastic - that make this an exceptional dining experience.

Little decorative touches make this a delightful dining experience.

The service was fine, but quite harried. While the waiter was pleasant and attentive, and the food came out in no time, I felt we never had the waiter's undivided attention. He was constantly off and running in a second. It is nice for a waiter to actually smile and focus on the people you are serving for more than just a few seconds, instead of darting off to the other tables you are also working. Maybe he just suffers from some ADD? :)

Service: B+
Atmosphere: A+
Food: A (Not an A+ because the appetizer was a little dull in flavor, and so was the rice pilaf that accompanied my fish.)
Overal grade for Agora: A

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Edge of the City Review: Q Bistro

With some in my party unwilling to wait for a table at the packed Agora Taverna last eve (they shall remain nameless :), we headed east down Austin... to the new Q Bistro, located at 108-25 Ascan. The good news is having removed its "Thai" so to speak, Q has reemerged as a very pleasant place to dine on some very tasty fare. We all enjoyed what we had and look forward to going back soon to try some other dishes. The food was good, though I wouldn't call it excellent. But good enough that we want to go back and try their other dishes. (Pardon these pics, it was dark and the camera didn't do its usual best.)

I like what they did with the interior of the restaurant. It is very stylishly furnished, with the bar when you walk in and an open kitchen area towards the back.

One of us sampled the chicken paillard ($17) and enjoyed it, however thought it was a tad salty and the portion could have been a bit bigger. I tried it and found it be perfectly cooked and seasoned with a very nice taste.

Another in my party had the cheese burger ($12), and really liked it. The only complaint was there could  have been a few more fries, though the one's included were pretty large steak fries.

I myself went for what they call their "grown up grilled cheese sandwich," which is prepared with a couple of different cheeses, lettuce, tomato, and pork. And as an extra, very nice added touch, it comes with a smoked tomato soup. I think it cost around $14 which was quite a reasonable price for what turned out to be a very filling (maybe a bit too filling - towards the end I thought the sandwich's ingredients may have been a bit too rich) sandwich and soup.

Some of the prices at Q were a little high I noticed. But there were some very reasonable offerings as well, like my sandwich.  I also enjoyed a glass of wine (shiraz), which was very smooth and excellent.

The service was pretty good (they were a little slow in bringing out the bread and then a bit too eager to take away our olive oil for our bread, which was a bit odd. Though I think that just might have something to do with one of the servers who seemed a little inexperienced. The waitress we had seemed more experienced.)

All in all, I like what they have done with Q. The menu seems creative and modern. This is just the type of place we need more of here in Forest Hills. My grades:

Atmosphere: A- (the minus because I noticed several of the tables for two VERY close to each other, one of my pet peeves when dining. Heck, I like my privacy!

Food: B+ (for now, I want to try many of the other offerings on their very interesting and intriguing menu.)

Service: A-

Overall grade for Q Bistro: B+

Remembering Geraldine Ferraro

Former Forest Hills Gardens resident and political trailblazer Geraldine Ferraro has died at the age of 75, after a 12-year battle with cancer. Here's a really good interview with her and recap of her life that the Times did:
The Last Word    In 1984, Geraldine A. Ferraro became the first woman nominated for national office by a major party.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Agora's Menu

Here is Agora Taverna's take-out menu. By the way, they told me they do not take reservations... yet.

Movin' on Up!

Finally, confirmation that the closing of the sad-looking strip of 7 stores next to the Key Food is being done to make way for a "national retailer." The entire building will be demolished and a new one built in its place.

Here's the link to the article on (Forest Hills Ledger) :

Cord Meyer to evict seven stores Developer says it told tenants in 2006 of plans to revamp Continental Ave. site

The way I look at it, anything is better than what we have there now. Though I do like the unique character that comes from small, independent shops (see Park Slope, Brooklyn), this is one strip that needs a facelift.

Oh, and thanks to reader "Susan" for calling our attention to this breaking news. (She posted it on the Open Forum page of the old site which reminds me I need to create a space for people to do such things here on the new one!) UPDATE - I just changed the "News Tips" page above so readers can now post news tips directly to the page.

Mr. Vino's Moving In

This has the potential to be a cute little wine & spirits shop, where the old Broadway Bakery used to be on 71st/Continental...

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Edge of the City Review: Exo Cafe

I had lunch at Exo, the new place on Austin, over the weekend, ordering the sampler plate ($12.95) for an appetizer, the classic cheese burger ($10.25) and to drink I had something from their craft beer menu, an Apple beer by Ephemere ($7). For dessert I just had an iced American coffee ($3.75) (this was when it was still Spring and not Winter like today, so iced, not hot :).

All in all, I think Exo is a very good addition to Forest Hills and I would definitely go back. My strongest positive association with it, now a few days out, is of how comfortable a place it is to relax with friends. Unlike many restaurants in the City, this place, especially on the second floor where I ate, is nice and roomy, The tables are very nicely spread out, giving you a chance to have a conversation with your friends and not have to be listening to the people sitting right next to you at the same time! What a breath of fresh air that is for the City, right?

One thing I noticed about Exo is your experience is very much determined by where you end up sitting. If you are facing one direction, you could end up staring at a big-screen TV showing a ball game. If you are facing another, you could end up looking out one of the big windows at the passers-by on Austin. So, this place can either feel like a sports bar or a nice, casual restaurant, depending on where you are sitting. Overall grade for atmosphere and the design of the place: A+.

The upstairs dining area at the new Exo Cafe on Austin St.
Now onto the meal. I enjoyed their sampler plate, which comes with beer battered onion rings, chicken poppers and cheddar cheese sticks. My favorite of these were the cheddar cheese sticks - nice and peppery. Overall grade for this dish: B+.

I also really liked their beer selection (see photo of menu below). Some of the more progressive restaurants are starting to offer a nice selection of craft beers, and Exo is one of them. Overall grade for beer: A.

Unfortunately, my least favorite part of my first Exo Experience was the main course. My classic cheese burger started out strong - it was presented really nicely, with Belgian fries on the side.  But by the time I was finished I wasn't very impressed. The burger was even slightly overcooked in one part. Overall, it was kind of dry, not a big, juicy, tasty burger. Now, it wasn't bad - just not great. Grade for the burger: B-
The fries were pretty good - I recommend them alone, without ketchup. Fries grade: B+

For dessert I had an iced coffee which was fine. I'd give it a B+

Also, our service was very good. The staff was extremely friendly, attentive, and helpful. And the food came out pretty fast. Service: A+

So, wrapping it all up. I recommend Exo Cafe as a nice place if you want to spend a relaxing time with friends or family. It's a very casual, nicely decorated restaurant and bar with great atmosphere, excellent service and pretty good - not great - food. I look forward to trying some of the other dishes there. The salads I saw being served looked very impressive.

Overall grade for Exo Cafe: B

Looking down on the bar area at Exo.

The view from Exo's second floor. Great people watching while you eat!

Exo's craft beer list. 

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Agora Taverna Photos

It opens this Tuesday. The menu offers all your Greek favorites, from grilled whole fish to kabobs.