Friday, May 31, 2013

Kung Fu Tea

This new tea place opened down near the Barnes & Noble on Austin St....

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Moca Open for Business

A long-time fan, I was happy to see that Moca is indeed open for business. Of course, extremely disappointed to hear about those health violations! I noticed the sign on the door says "Grade Pending." In any case, that apparently didn't keep loads of diners away from the place tonight as you can see below...

Rumors and Happenings

Just a few tidbits people have either commented about, or I've seen. Various rumors and possibilities and stuff still to be sorted out:

1) Very surprised to hear that Moca Asian Bistro on Restaurant Row was shut down by the health department recently. I have been leaning towards Jade recently for my Asian fusion fare, but this was always a close second. I especially liked their boneless bbq spare ribs. They even made it onto my Recommended Restaurants list. Hopefully, they'll reopen.

2) And while I'm on Restaurant Row, hard to believe that someone hasn't snatched up the former Liang's space there. I mean if you are anyone who wants to own a restaurant, it's one of the best locations in Forest Hills, possibly all of Queens. Thousands of people come to that street every weekend to eat from all over the Borough, Long Island, and the rest of the City. Hard to see how a good restaurant wouldn't thrive big-time in that location.

3) A couple of things from comments here: a) Apple store is the rumor that refuses to die. The latest had it going into the Men's Warehouse location on Austin, and b) Lucille Roberts will be closing. Can't vouch for either of those, just telling you what others have commented about here in the past couple of months. By the way, how much longer do you think Barnes & Noble has? I used to love browsing in there, but have to admit I haven't done so in months since I've gotten my Kindle. I now browse electronically, virtually, whatever.

4) Crimes in The Gardens. A friend sent me some photos this morning of a beautiful new car stripped apparently overnight of all its tires. I'm not posting the pics because I don't want to invade the victim's privacy. But what chutzpah these thieves have, so brazen. The car in the photo is clumsily lifted up off the street by pieces of wood, quite precariously by the way.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Patrick Stewart Eating Pizza

He tweeted it, announcing "My first ever pizza "slice". Please note: the authentic NY fold."

 Just sharing for no other reason than I just love the guy!  And it's a great picture :)

Station House Pizza

Had a chance to visit one of my favorite new places in Forest Hills, Station House, again over the weekend. I tried their cheese pizza — fluffy dough, tangy sauce, really, really good. Another winner. So far I've had their chicken wings and pizza and a couple of beers and plan to keep working my way through the rest of their excellent menu. Oh, and the beer this time: a Milk Stout from Left Hand Brewing:

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Vanilla Sky Sign

They've put up the new sign. I guess it should be opening pretty shortly. I, for one, am much more interested in their coffee and any other snacks they might have than their frozen yogurt. Not sure if they got the permission for outdoor seating, but that would be really nice, too.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Anthony Weiner is Running Against Himself

I don't know yet whether I would support Anthony Weiner for Mayor. I DO know that I thought he would make an excellent mayor in the past, but that was before the Twitter scandal when he lied to the press and all of us about what he was doing. Normally, that would discount him in my eyes from being a viable candidate. But this year, all of the other candidates are so not up to the job, that I too am on the fence about this. Am I willing to excuse what are clearly the actions of a troubled man who has an undeniable talent for politics and—if not for the scandal—posesses, in my opinion, the energy, intelligence, personality, heart, and—very importantly—THE CHARISMA, to be an excellent mayor of New York?

This is not about forgiving really. It is about whether a troubled person is up to the task of leading our city. Yes, many of us struggle with our personal demons. But his were so self-destructive, I wonder if he is up to the daily pressure of running the city. But then again, do I want Christine Quinn as my Mayor? Absolutely not. There is no there, there. She seems like all calculation and no heart. She screams "PHONY!" to me. Not the type of person I want as my Mayor.

So, let's just say that for now I am leaning towards supporting Anthony Weiner for Mayor.  And that's really only because, in my view, barring anyone else entering the race, at least for now, he is running against himself.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Huge Tornado Hits Oklahoma City Area

A small part of the terrible devastation there. Apparently it moved right over the highway.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Free Tree Giveaway Today

On Sun, May 19 from 1 PM - 3 PM, take home a tree at Forest Hills' MacDonald Park at Queens Blvd & 70th Ave. If you reserved your tree online, your registration will be valid from 1 - 2 PM. **If you didn't reserve your tree online, a limited quantity will be available on site at a first-come, first-served basis. If trees are remaining at the end of the event, you can adopt more than 1 tree.

More information, read "Free Trees in Forest Hills" by Michael Perlman of the Forest Hills Times/Queens Ledger: 

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Agora Taverna, Just to Clarify

I feel I want to just clarify my previous post about the Greek restaurant on Austin St., Agora Taverna. Overall, I'd give the food here a B+, and the ambience/atmosphere, an A+. As I mentioned in the previous post, it is certainly an exceptionally beautiful restaurant they built here in Forest Hills. I think it would be hard to find anyone to argue with that.

As for the food, I love to have great seafood and fish dishes, but I also really, really like an excellent chicken dish, especially in a Greek or any other Mediterranean restaurant. I've tried several different dishes at Agora and my conclusion is that it does a real nice job with seafood and fish dishes (shrimp, Branzini are among my favorite dishes there), but could do better when it comes to straightforward chicken dishes, like chicken kabob. I didn't find the chicken bad, I just found it bland, without much taste. It wasn't very memorable. Quite frankly, I was kinda disappointed with that dish since I was hoping a new Greek restaurant would do an exceptional job with it. I'm thinking of places I've been to in Astoria, for instance, that serve great roasted and grilled chicken dishes.

Now that being said, I have not been back to Agora in several months. Other local restaurants opened and I have really liked them so they have kind of taken me away from going back to Agora. (Again, as others have commented on this blog, the competition is heating up for restaurateurs here in Forest Hills for sure.) So, I am hoping Agora's has improved its chicken kabob. I'll visit soon to find out and let you all know what I think.

Otherwise, I hope I am being clear that I am not criticizing Agora as a whole. I think it's a beautiful restaurant—one of the nicest we have in central Forest Hills—and a really nice place to dine with friends and family, and, it serves very good fish and seafood dishes. I am just hoping they can do something more exciting with their chicken!

Still Open, and Closed

I found myself recently visiting the Austin Street "Mall" after quite a while away and it was interesting to note a couple of things:

Common Space is long gone, having been closed back in March for some reason by the Health Department. I never got a chance to eat or drink there, despite a quick visit one evening. I especially liked their nice outdoor space in the back. This would make a good space for another restaurant, or maybe that indie coffe place so many of us have been dreaming about. It even has the space outback which would be perfect! And, given its slot upstairs in the "Mall," I'm thinking it just might be a bit more affordable for some entrepreneur to make happen than a space right on ground level on Austin St.

And, despite some predictions to the contrary, it looks like Corfu Grill, the smaller Greek restaurant, is holding its own even though Agora Taverna opened just a few feet away. When Agora first opened, I had my doubts Corfu would survive very long. But I think part of the reason it may have is that Agora is so much pricier. And, I also wonder if a big part of the reason is that, sadly, Agora just isn't the amazing Greek restaurant so many of us had hoped for. Sure, some of its dishes are really good, especially when it comes to fish and seafood. But I have been super-disappointed by other entrees, such as chicken dishes. A bland, easily forgettable chicken kabob in a Greek restaurant? What?? How does that happen? When you're paying the prices Agora is charging, the food really should be worth it. Yes, it sure is a beautiful restaurant they built, no doubt about that. But if the food just isn't worth the price, I don't care how pretty the place is.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

New Poll: Summer Movie Special (Part 1)

Queens Symphony Orchestra Annual Gala

This is open to the public:
Join the Queens Symphony Orchestra on May 29th at its 60th anniversary Gala at the Copland School of Queens College! Seats filling up quickly for a night of fun, great entertainment and food...for a great cause. Help support community programs, free concerts and acclaimed Arts-in-Education programs. — at Aaron Copland School of Music. Click here to purchase tickets: Queens Symphony Orchestra: 60th Anniversary Gala on May 29, 2013 at Queens College

Sunday, May 12, 2013

First Impressions: Banter, Station House and The Flying Pig

I've done the trifecta and now visited all of the new gastropubs that have opened in Forest Hills over the past couple of months. I wouldn't call the following a "review" so to speak, since on the budget of an independent blogger I can't afford to try a whole lot from any one place during one visit, let alone three different places. So, with that said, here are my first impressions:

Station House
My favorite of the three: Station House. I was really impressed with the whole look, layout and vibe of Station House—warm, modern, roomy, just awesomely comfortable—and extremely impressed with the staff. I went with my friend who is from out of town and we both left saying to each other, "are we in Queens or somewhere in the midwest?" I mean, this is one of the friendliest staffs I have ever encountered at a restaurant/bar anywhere, let alone in NYC. My friend and I shared a $9 helping of their pickled pepper wings, described on the menu as "whole jumbo wings, in-house pickled pepper sauce." These wings lived up to that description. They were delicious and each one was enormous. Unlike wings you may be used to, you have to tear these babies apart, each one is like two or three wings in one. And they are just great. The beers were listed on an updated TV screen on the wall, and they have a pretty large selection.

Station House's wings
Station House
Tied for second place were The Flying Pig and Banter. As for The Pig, a lot of people have had mixed reviews of this new gastropub. My friend and I both really liked it. But keep in mind, what we had was limited to just appetizers. We shared an order of baked clams and also a Charcuterie plate with three selections, Slabbed Bacon ($4), Prosciutto ($7) and Lamb Sausage ($9). Both the clams and the Charcuterie were excellent. Having grown up on Long Island, I've eaten like a zillion different baked clams in my life and these were as good as any I've had. And each of the three selections on the plate we ordered was great, and were accompanied by a truly excellent mustard that had us both commenting on how good it was, along with pickles and some slices of bread. It all came together to make a really fun appetizer that we both thoroughly enjoyed.

The Flying Pig's mascot. You can find him inside.
I also really, really liked the look and vibe of The Flying Pig—it was lively and packed when we were there Saturday evening—as well as the friendly service. It didn't quite match the incredibly friendly service of Station House, but it was not lacking in the slightest. I also had a lovely peach brew from RJ Rockers Brewery while my friend had a nice glass of wine. All in all, we left The Flying Pig feeling just as satisfied as we arrived after coming off the great experience at Station House and that's saying something. As I said, I can't vouch for those who splurged on more expensive full entries and not apps, but for what I had, it was a great experience, especially given the other places we've had to settle for until now in the Austin St. area.

Inside The Pig

The Flying Pig's delish Charcuterie plate

The Flying Pig's baked clams
Now, to be fair, I visited Banter like a month ago so my memory of that experience has faded a bit since. But it was overall positive. My party of three went for dinner and of our meals, two out of three of us were quite satisfied with a pan seared chicken entry ($17) and an Irish Stew ($18). The third had salmon over a salad ($15) and thought the salmon was just ok. The service at Banter was very harried though, nothing like the wonderful service at Station House. It had just recently opened though and they admitted the kitchen was a bit backed up. Not sure if that has improved in the weeks since.


Another shot of Banter

Banter's roast chicken dish

Banter's salmon over salad

Banter's Irish Stew
So there you have it, my first impressions of these three new restaurants. All in all, I was surprised at how much I really enjoyed The Flying Pig experience and how much I absolutely fell in love with Station House which is really an awesome new place in FoHi. We are really lucky to have such a warm, inviting place. One reader emailed me to say how he loved Station House also and was looking forward to working his way through their menu:   
"I have lunched twice," he wrote me. "I'd like to say that the quality of the food and the creativity of the cooking is very fine--one has to be almost impossibly lucky to find such finesse in Manhattan at these prices.I intend to eat my way through the menu. Have not had any alcohol there since I've stopped in only before going to work, but the bar and beer offerings are intriguing. Service is very friendly, and so is chef James--and he is also greatly talented, as well.  FH and KG have been such a desert for decent vittles that I think this place needs to be championed, since it offers so much of what we have lacked." 

I could not agree more.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Suncycle Offering New Teen Spin Classes

.... including a Free Spin Class to kick things off:

The Flying Pig's Menu

Below is the food menu of our newest gastropub, The Flying Pig, on Austin Street. By the way, reader Michael tweeted me that they have a whopping 36 beers on tap. I include the pic he sent of their drinks menu at the end, though it's a little hard to make out:

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Vanilla Sky's Unveiling

The plywood around the Vanilla Sky at the corner of Austin and 70th Road (Restaurant Row) has been taken down giving us a good idea of what the new frozen yogurt/coffee place will look like:

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Free Queens Symphony Orchestra Concerts This Week

Here’s a link to the TimesLedger article:
Wednesday, May 8, 7:30 p.m., at Queens College LeFrak Concert Hall, 65-30 Kissena Blvd. and Friday, May 10, 7:30 p.m., at Flushing Town Hall, 137-35 Northern Blvd.

Suspect Arrested in Forest Hills Burglary, May Be Linked to Others: Police

From NBC News: Suspect Arrested in Forest Hills Burglary, May Be Linked to Others: Police
By the way, what ever happened in the Forest Park attack case from a couple of months ago? Here's a story from the (holding my nose) NY Post about it: Rapists stalk in Qns. park

Coming Soon: Buffalo Wild Wings

We've known about it for a while, but the sign is now up at the old Staples location on 71st Continental Ave.

Vanilla Sky Outdoor Seating

I for one hope they get the approval since I love to be able to eat outside during the nice weather (as opposed to during blizzards and monsoons). I was trying to recall if Europan had outdoor seating and I really think they didn't (not that I would have eaten there much if they did, but it would have made it a bit more of an attractive alternative).

Monday, May 6, 2013

Lining Up at the Forest Hills Chipotle

Apparently, I'm not the only one quite satisfied with the food they're serving up at our recently opened Chipotle on Austin St. The scene there Monday, 7:15 p.m. The line went around the entire place...

Planet of the Apes Moment

Actually, Beneath the Planet of the Apes. Saw this discarded subway sign this evening and it reminded me of that film. Those who have seen the movie will know what I mean...

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Urban Style

Thanks to Amanda for Tweeting me about this, Eugenia Kim summer hats photographed in front of Eddie's Sweet Shop on Metropolitan Ave.

I stumbled upon a few other fashion shoots this weekend, on and around The High Line:

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Battle of the Boroughs Tennis Challenge

They are currently looking for tennis players from all over Queens to represent their borough in this one-of-a-kind event.  This competition is a great way for Forrest Hills tennis players to vie for their neighborhood and borough's glory and all the funds raised will go to support City Parks Foundation's free youth tennis program.

Benefiting City Parks Foundation 
Borough Challenges Starting May 11th - Finals June 15th 
USTA Eastern and City Parks Foundation are teaming up to present The Battle of the Boroughs Tennis Challenge, a new adult recreational tournament to be held in May and June in New York City parks. The tournament will feature the best of team competition and neighborhood pride, and support CityParks Tennis, which provides free tennis lessons and activities for children at 40 parks citywide.
“We are so excited about the Battle of the Boroughs Tennis Challenge,” said Jenny Schnitzer, Assistant Executive Director of USTA Eastern. “The event will showcase some of the best adult tennis players in New York City’s parks, and help create opportunities for children of all ages to learn the sport of a lifetime.”
"This is a fun new opportunity for adult players in our parks to get together for a friendly competition representing their own neighborhoods and boroughs," said Mike Silverman, Director of Sports for City Parks Foundation. "We hope this will grow into an annual event that helps support CPF's free youth tennis instruction provided to over 7,000 players each year."
Adult teams of up to ten players 19 years old and up, will compete against other teams in their borough before earning a slot in the citywide championships held at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows, Queens on June 15th. Registration is $20/per person, and proceeds will support City Parks Foundation's free youth tennis programs in all five boroughs.
To learn more and to register for the Battle of the Boroughs Tennis Challenge, visit
Borough Challenges
            Crotona Park, Bronx - May 11
            Riverside Park, Manhattan - May 11
            Flushing Meadows, Queens - May 11
            College of Staten Island, Staten Island - May 11
            Prospect Park, Brooklyn - June 1
Citywide Championships
            Flushing Meadows, Queens  - June 15
CityParks Tennis presented by Chase, one of the largest municipal tennis programs in the country, provides free tennis lessons and activities at 40 parks citywide to children ages 5-16. CityParks Tennis also features an advanced training academy, which offers talented youth with financial need the opportunity to bring their game to a higher level of competition. Hundreds of academy graduates have earned college athletic scholarships and sectional and national rankings. Two graduates of the academy have played in the junior division at the US Open.
City Parks Foundation (CPF) is the only independent, nonprofit organization to offer park programs throughout the five boroughs of New York City. We work in over 750 parks citywide, presenting a broad range of free arts, sports, and education programs, and empowering citizens to support their parks on a local level.  Our programs and community building initiatives reach more than 600,000 people each year, contributing to the revitalization of neighborhoods throughout New York City. For more information about CPF
USTA Eastern, based in White Plains, New York, is a not-for-profit community service organization that encompasses all of New York State, Northern New Jersey and Greenwich, Connecticut.  It is one of 17 geographic sections of the United States Tennis Association, the governing body of tennis in the US, and administers a number of USTA tennis programs, including Jr. Team Tennis, Adult Leagues, and sanctioned tournaments. For more information about USTA Eastern and how to get started, visit

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Mike Colameco Visits La Boulangerie

"A wonderful little bake shop right in the middle of Forest Hills" kicks off this episode of Mike Colameco's Real Food. Congratulations to La Boulangerie! They certainly deserve the coverage. "I had no idea the neighborhood would be so receptive of an artisanal bread bakery," Francois tells Mike at the end. Yes, there is indeed quite a need here in FoHi for quality places like this.