Wednesday, December 31, 2014

NY Times Comes Out in Suport of The QueensWay

In very exciting news to close out the year, the NY Times in an editorial has carefully weighed the two options for the 3.5 mile stretch of abandoned railway that runs from Rego Park—and through a section of Forest Hills—to the Rockaways and come out in support of a High Line-like park which would be called The QueensWay.

I think this is the most important part of their analysis of the two options, the other of which is reviving the rail link to the Rockaways:

A Green Line Through Queens
....they may be understating the difficulty of reviving those rails for trains. Of the QueensWay’s 47 acres, seven are parkland. If the city, which owns the land, was to return it to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority for transit, it would have to find replacement parkland somewhere else. Then there is the question of when the M.T.A. would get to this capital project, which would be one of many on its overflowing, underfunded to-do list.
The likeliest answer is never. The M.T.A.’s capital plan is only half-funded; the agency is strapped by debt and is hard-pressed to protect the infrastructure it has.

Many naysayers have dismissed the possibility that The QueensWay will ever come to fruition. They point to the hurdles that the High Line had, which were overcome with the help of big celebrity donors. It reminds me of the same dismissive tone I heard about the possibility of ever reviving Forest Hills Stadium for music concerts.

And we all know how that turned out:

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Guess Who's Best in the U.S. 2015 ?

If you haven't already heard, Lonely Planet has ranked Queens: "Best in the US 2015"

Yes, it's true. Here's a brief excerpt:
1. Queens, New York
Queens, New York’s largest borough, is also quickly becoming its hippest, but most travelers haven't clued in… yet. With microbreweries springing up, new boutique hotels, a reinvented seaside at Rockaway, a world-class art scene, and a truly global food culture, 2015 is the year to try Queens.
And, since it's Christmas, here's my gift to ya'all, you can download the chapter about Queens for free.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Our City Mourns

I like this email I received from a reader yesterday:
I heard about the police shooting last night, but did not understand until early this morning the horrific circumstances. As I walked to breakfast, I felt a call to action. I wanted to do something to show appreciation and support for New York 's Finest. And I decided that at least until the end of the year, and likely longer I would hand out $5 gift cards from coffee establishments to every police officer whose path I crossed as a tangible gesture of that support. (I taped the receipt to the individual card showing the amount and to ensure no possibility of a glitch when using the card.)
Sometimes people want to do something but don't know what to do. It's easy. Like minded folks could follow suit, or interpret the gesture in their own way . . . shake the hand of a police officer and tell them you are sorry for their loss, send a condolence card to the local precinct . . . make a donation to the Silver Shield Foundation, or other appropriate gesture that feels comfortable and just do it . . . once or multiple times.
My own personal feelings are absolute disgust with the way the Mayor is being blamed for the act of a clearly insane person. I cannot recall being more disgusted by the words I heard someone spoke, or the actions of disrespect. The Mayor is in a very difficult position, trying to walk a fine line that represents all citizens of this very diverse city. I think he deserves a lot of credit for the way he has handled things so far. To turn this latest tragedy into something political is absolutely disgraceful. We should instead be honoring and remembering the bravery and dedication of the two fine officers who we lost this weekend.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Local Toys for Tots Drop Off Locations

As the holidays are upon us, Toys for Tots will be finishing up its collection of toys for children in need. They have created an interactive map showing the drop off locations in the area. Happy Holidays!

Click Here to view the map

Thai Boulevard Opening in New Location

The restaurant Thai Boulevard, which has a location further down Queens Blvd. in Kew Gardens, is opening up where Fresco Tortillas used to be at Queens Blvd. and 73rd Road in Forest Hills.

Wine Tasting this Saturday

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Red Pipe Cafe Review from eateryROW

Fellow local blogger eateryROW's review of Red Pipe

I especially love the way it starts...
I've lived in Forest Hills for the better part of ten years. But I'm from Manhattan and I do miss it. That said, these days, it's sometimes easy to forget that I'm not there. In the past few years, Forest Hills has gotten wine bars, cocktails and craft beer, enough taxis to make midtown blush, concerts, expensive restaurants with pedigree chefs, brand-new luxury buildings, bakeries, hotter girls...

Monday, December 8, 2014

End of the Century Bar Opens on Metropolitan

From Time Out NY:

 Tiki bar–cum–cocktail club End of the Century Bar hits Forest Hills  
Pegu Club, PKNY and Maison Premiere alums expand cocktail culture in Queens
When searching for a home for their own drinking den—a tiki bar–cum–cocktail club, designed to feel like a living room—the trio decided to push beyond those well-trodden boroughs for, of all places, Queens. “Forest Hills feels both local and international—it’s one of the most diverse areas of the city,” Present says. “We want to be a microcosm of that.”
 104-08 Metropolitan Ave between 71st Dr and 72nd Ave, Forest Hills, Queens (718-544-1624)

Art Opening and Holiday Party at OvoSodo Restaurant

OvoSodo Restaurant in Forest Hills (owners, Roberto Lamorte and Marco del Peschio), is sponsoring local artists by offering art shows and receptions with refreshments free of charge to the public. The Grand Opening Art Show and Holiday Party will take place on Thursday, December 18 from 3-5pm. It will feature the beautiful and fascinating works of magic-realist photographer Katherine Liepe-Levinson.

Admission and refreshments free of charge.
Join them for great food, great art, and Holiday Cheer.

Time: 3-5pm.
Place: OvoSodo Restaurant
110-60 Queens Boulevard, Forest Hills NY 11375


Katherine Liepe-Levinson is an award-winning Photographer. Her works have been featured on the cover and in articles of books, magazines, and newspapers. Her client list has included museums, corporations, small businesses, and performing artists. Katherine’s Fine Art Photography continues to be exhibited in Long Island galleries, both invitational and juried shows, where she has won several awards for her work.

In addition to photography, Katherine has performed as a professional dancer, actor, and writer on and off Broadway. She has been a resident of Forest Hills for more than thirty years.

The exhibit at Ovo Gallery, OvoSodo Restaurant includes eleven large size works of Kathy's. Here, she describes what will be on display:

The works for this show come from a new series I have been working on for the past two years called, The Pond Series. All works were shot at the Quogue Wildlife Refuge on Long Island,  New York.  The subtle fresh water pond, with its changing water tables and interdependent flora and fauna, is a testament to the preciousness of our natural resources, which we too often take for granted or neglect. The unusual vibrant colors and patterns in my Pond Series photographs are natural results produced through: watching and working with the available light; the camera angles, the shifting wind patterns both on the water and in the trees; the reflections on the water surface coupled with life in the water; the use of cropping or zooming in for close ups; and very fast shutter speeds.
The images are captured with high-end digital cameras.  All images are single exposures with NO Photoshop additions, filters, or manipulations. I use the basic adjustments that darkroom photographers use, but through Lightroom, which is a digital processor. I processed and printed each image myself using Epson wide format printers, archival pigment ink, and Epson Velvet Fine Art paper.  Unlike working with the more traditional glossy or semi-glossy photographic papers, matte fine art papers also allow the ink to spread minutely, which adds to the painterly look of The Pond Series.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Live Stream of Tonight's Protests

Due to today's developments in the tragic case of Eric Garner, I am including below a link to a live stream of the protests going on throughout the City:

New Windows Going Up For Ascan Dunkin' Donuts

Thanks to Steve for sending in this photo today...

Wine Tasting This Weekend at The Wine Room of Forest Hills

Take a journey through the world of wine with The Wine Room of Forest Hills 96-09 69th Ave Forest Hills NY 11375 

 *****Wine Tasting Saturday December 6th 2014 1pm - 4pm & 6pm -9pm ***** 

This establishment is now under new ownership and a friend of mine who lives nearby tells me "The original Wine Room was a beloved institution...These new owners seem dedicated to restoring the place to its former glory."

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Performing at Red Pipe Cafe This Wednesday

The French jazz duo Gavroche, who happen to be Forest Hills residents, will perform at our new coffee place, Red Pipe, on Austin St. Wednesday night at 8:30 (they will also be performing at La Boulangerie on Dec. 16 at 5 p.m.):

Here's a clip of them from FĂȘte Paradiso, the Parisian festival of vintage carnival rides and carousels on Governors Island. Valentine Biollay on vocals and Coyote Anderson on guitar.

In Search of Christmas Trees in Forest Hills

Received this email from a reader, can anyone help her?

I was wondering if you could do a post about where to buy a live Christmas tree in the area. I've gotten mine from the guys who set up shop at the deli on the corner of Ascan and Austin for the past few years, but now that it's closed, I'm guessing they won't be there anymore. Any and all super-local suggestions would be greatly appreciated by someone who has to carry a tree home by herself!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving

I just wanted to wish all my readers a very Happy Thanksgiving.

Here is information on local charity turkey meals being served today:

Free hot turkey sit-in-dinner. 

Meal menu: Bread, fresh beets and carrots salad with delicious vinaigrette, chickpea soup, turkey roasted with onions, pepper and celery, cranberry sauce, cinnamon and syrup mashed-potatoes, traditional cholent, pineapple chunks for dessert. 

Served by waiters and dozens of volunteers. Free groceries will be available to take home. No Reservations Needed.

When: Thursday, Thanksgiving, November 27th, 2014 3:00pm - 7:30pm (rain or shine snow or sleet)

Where: MASBIA of Queens, 98-08 Queens Blvd, Rego Park, NY 11374 (Between 65th Rd. and 65th Ave) Contact: Beau Heyen


Wednesday, November 26, 2014

La Boulangerie Events

And speaking of small businesses—or maybe the better term is independent businesses since La Boulangerie is always so packed with customers the word "small" just doesn't seem to fit—it was so nice to see how our finest French bakery is expanding its role in the neighborhood, hosting local events. The next one is on Tuesday, December 16:

This, my friends, is what is starting to make our neighborhood really great... I also noticed a similar poster in Red Pipe's window about some event coming up but didn't have time to stop and read it. If anyone knows what it is, please post below...

Small Business Saturday in Forest Hills

"Shop Small & Be Rewarded on Small Business Saturday"  by Michael Perlman of the Forest Hills Times/Queens Ledger: 
 Trylon Vet Care, Red Pipe Cafe, & Oliloli Studio are a few of many Forest Hills businesses that will have special offers on Saturday, November 29th. 

Now, For the Good News: Awesome NY Times Coverage of Forest Hills

Boy, all those pathetic crashes on Queens Blvd. can get a bit depressing, no? Well, here's some good news to brighten up your Thanksgivings tomorrow. This awesome coverage of Forest Hills and Queens in The Times from several days ago:

Affordable and Reliable, Queens Real Estate Ascends

And here is one of my favorite descriptions of Forest Hills to ever appear in The NY TImes. Or, at least since I've been living here anyway :)
A couple of blocks away on Austin Street, he found a mix of cafes, bars, chain stores and small businesses and began to picture a life there. Twenty minutes and four express stops later, he was back in Manhattan planning their move.
And, while we're on the topic, here's some photos I took recently of The Aston entrance on 71st Ave.:

And the Scene Tonight - Crash 2

Yup, same corner, another horrible crash. I assume they're parking an ambulance near the corner of Ascan and Queens Blvd.? Sorry to be so morbid, but it is a morbid situation and looks like nothing's being done about it? How many more accidents have to happen, and how many more people have to be injured or worse? And by the way, what an incredible nightmare for people, like myself, having to cross Queens Blvd. right after this crash happened this evening, as you can kind of make out by the chaos of the cars going every which way to get around the cars involved and the emergency vehicles...

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Crash, Intersection of Ascan and Queens Blvd.

The scene tonight.

Pieces of I guess the other car were as far as the eye can see on Queens Blvd. You can see some of them on the pavement if you look closely (sorry for the blurry pic, but I was a bit distracted literally walking over the debris from the other car as I crossed this evening).

When are these drivers going to learn that this is not a highway?

When is the city going to learn that it needs to do more?

For example, when are we going to get rumble strips put down on these death-trap intersections here in Forest Hills like I've been calling for for years?

I hear they've finally started doing it in other places nearby.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

It's Forest Hills Vs. Seattle for Pearl Jam

Who would've ever thunk it?

Pearl Jam fans clash over campaign to bring the band to the legendary Forest Hills Stadium in Queens
A crowdsourcing effort to bring Pearl Jam to Forest Hills is being thwarted by some fans who want the band to play in Seattle. “It has a lot of historical significance,” fan Dan Sheffer said of the venue, which hosted superstars like Jimi Hendrix, Bob Dylan and the Beatles in the ’60s and ’70s.
By the way, I love this quote:
“The place is in some state of disrepair (and) the curfew is WAY too early for a band like Pearl Jam,” wrote one fan, PJ Soul, on, referring to the mandatory 10 p.m. shutdown at Forest Hills Stadium. “I wouodn’t (sic) go all the way out there unless it was MSG or Yankee Stadium or something.”

"State of disrepair"? Try newly renovated, and even before, it was as good as any other stadium...

"All the way out there"? What are we living in Nebraska? Try 20-25 minutes to midtown Manhattan on the subway, moron.  Oh, and that while living in apartments that aren't the size of walk-in closets with indents in the walls of your kitchens you make believe are showers and which you play a zillion dollars for. Now who's "out there"?

Oh, and curfew? The concerts begin and end a bit earlier than some other venues so as not to disturb nearby residents very late into the night. That hasn't negatively impacted any of the other shows there. People have loved them so far. 

From Lagging Behind, to a Great Leap Forward

Mayor de Blasio's second awesome idea, after the the Vision Zero initiative. But this one is simply spectacular: Pay Phones in New York City Will Become Free Wi-Fi Hot Spots
In a statement, Mr. de Blasio called expanded broadband access “essential for everything we need to do to be a fair and just city,” adding that the system would be “the fastest and largest municipal Wi-Fi network in the world.”

Friday, November 14, 2014

Bring Pearl Jam to Forest Hills Stadium

.... their idea, not mine.
But not a bad idea! And isn't it refreshing that we should be discussing the idea of bringing Pearl Jam to Forest Hills at all?  (yes, I still hold a grudge against those Stadium-haters. Can't help it!)

While we're at it, can someone please start one of these for Vampire Weekend?
Pearl Jam 25 Forest Hills
Bring Pearl Jam to Forest Hills Stadium!

Chalet Alpina Closes

The German restaurant Chalet Alpina on Metropolitan has closed after serving up many a schnitzel over the years.... (Did they actually? I never ate there myself but assuming...) Are there any fans out there that are sad to see it go? And more importantly, do restaurants usually close like this when their owners decide to retire, or does that only happen down there on Metropolitan? ;)

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Remaking the Corner of Ascan and Austin

Corner of Ascan and Austin
So that quiet, beautiful part of Austin Street diagonally across from the church is in for some big changes, according to various guesses, reports and rumors that are circulating. Ever since the convenience store on the corner shut down a couple of months ago, there's been a lot of speculation as to what will replace it. The floor plans I've seen in fact, go way beyond just that store, carving a large chunk out of that entire corner which includes shops facing both Austin and Ascan. And one of those businesses impacted is Bonelle, a pastry shop that has been around for years and years and is extremely popular with FoHi'ers who have lived here for a long time.

Personally, I've never been a big fan. I've been to Bonelle and found the store very tired-looking and in need of a big-time renovation. Now, I'm a big meal guy and really don't have much of a sweet-tooth. So, I am really not anyone to judge pastries or deserts in general. And honestly I have no recollection whether I liked the pastries I had at Bonelle or didn't. But so many long-time residents absolutely love the place, that there must be something to it.

So.... if you are one of them, stop by Bonelle some time this holiday season and show them some love. I'm told they have a petition going to try to convince the landlord to not evict them which you can sign.

As for that corner, what's coming in there? I've heard everything from the Cafe Benne chain to Dunkin' Donuts. Personally, if it has to be a coffee shop like that (which I don't see the reason for since 1) We have the fabulous La Boulangerie a block away, and 2) it will in my opinion negatively impact what is one of the most charming corners on all of Austin St. and maybe in our neighborhood) my choice hands down is the more upscale Cafe Benne. But I am hearing more and more each week that it will probably be a DD... shame...lost potential of a really nice spot in our nabe.

The long-time Bonelle Pastry Shop is closing by next year, evicted by the landlord due to rising rents

New Look for OvoSodo

A reader noticed last week that OvoSodo has changed its awning. This got me all excited, thinking a menu change would follow, perhaps something that would live up to their awesome beginning here in Forest Hills over at Tuscan Hills. (See my previous post about them.) But, I asked, and they're sticking with the same 'diner-ish' menu—which is fine, but, personally, I think with the talent they've displayed at Tuscan Hills, which I consider to be one of the finest Italian restaurants I have ever been to, they can up their game at OvoSodo. (Notice how the new sign does play up their connection to Tuscan Hills, by the way.)


Friday, October 31, 2014

Happy Halloween

Trick or Treat!

By the way, Whoopi Goldberg is the Grand Marshall of tonight's 41st Annual Village Halloween Parade... Happy Halloween everybody!

Of course, no Halloween would be complete without a bit of spooky creepiness from the original classic Halloween movie (not those crappy remakes):

CTown Renovation

I noticed there's some major renovations going on at the Austin Street CTown supermarket....

I guess this market is not going to give up without a big fight. We've had some major improvements in terms of grocery shopping here in the neighborhood in the past year or so, with the Farmer's Market on Sundays offering excellent quality fruits & veggies, and the Duane Reade, Rite Aid and CVS offering expanded grocery sections that are actually pretty darn good for a lot of the staples. So I guess CTown needs to step up its game a bit. Should be interesting to see what this renovation results in. Personally, I've barely done any shopping there - only when Natural doesn't have something I need I walk right next door...

Learn To Make Beautiful Mosaics — Now in Forest Hills!!

Learn the beautiful art, craft and history of authentic Byzantine mosaic artistry. Classes are small and informal with an emphasis on learning the basic techniques, making two pieces you will be proud to display.

Session 1 - 11:30am - 2pm - Nov. 4,12,18,25, December 2 & 9

Session 2 - 7pm - 9:30 pm - Nov. 4,12,18,25, December 2 & 9

Session 3 - 7pm - 9:30 pm - Nov. 6, 13, 20, 26 (or 28), Dec 4 & 11

All students are permitted to make up one missed class at the studio. Classes are for beginners with no prior experience. All tools and supplies are provided.

Class Price - $325.00 due in full at first class accepting check, cash and all major credit cards.

Linda Belickis

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Forest Hills Gets an Indie Coffee Shop

Yes, finally.

It's called Red Pipe, and it's now open in the space where the former Stoa Jewelry store used to be at 7160 Austin St.

And guess what? They make a mean cappuccino!

It's a great addition to our neighborhood, and a long time in coming.

I was very pleasantly surprised when I visited. When the sign said it was going to be an organic cafe, I was expecting another food place. So was thrilled to see it's a coffee-focused establishment, just the type of place to kick back and relax, or spend some time with friends. Just what we needed...

Hours are 7 am to 10 pm, and they also sell breakfast, sandwiches and desserts...

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Stoa Becoming an Organic Cafe

The site of the new organic cafe on Austin
A sign has gone up at the former site of Stoa Jewelers at 7160 Austin St. heralding the arrival of an "organic cafe." I peeked inside and it looks like they've done a nice job with the renovation. While I'm very excited about this—anything with the word "organic" in its name on Austin St. means progress for our neighborhood—of course, the proof will be in the organic pudding when it opens.

This may be a good time to offer my opinion of some of the other eateries that have opened in Forest Hills in the past few years.

- OvoSodo: I've gone to this place several times and have yet to have something that really blew me away and made this one of the places in the 'hood that I immediately think of going to, like Bareburger or Banter. The dishes have been just ok. I'm wondering what other people think? Have you had anything there that was really good? Have you been going to OvoSodo for breakfast or lunch or dinner more?

- Reef: This new fish restaurant has a really nice decor inside and is very comfortable, with its two-levels of dining. While some of the standard fare, like salmon, have been excellent, I recently tried Reef's lobster tails and could not believe how much I didn't like it.  So, I'd say Reef for now is very hit or miss, at least in my experience. But again, please share your experiences with it.

- Agora Taverna: We were going to go to Reef again and then decided to give Agora another try. We hadn't been back in a very long time. The last time I was there I think I had their chicken kebab platter and was disappointed. I figured a Greek restaurant has to have a great chicken kebab! But I found I really didn't love it. But that was more than a year ago. So we went back and this time we both had fish dishes and really, really liked it! So Agora's back on my list of good local places. Now I have to try their chicken again, though.

Please share your experiences with these places below. And remember, Agora Taverna is one example of a new restaurant which has only improved with time. So I think we should all give OvoSodo and Reef some time as well...

Friday, October 10, 2014

The Who Will Play Forest Hills Stadium May 30th, 2015


Who US Tour Banner

THE WHO, one of rock’s most legendary and defining bands, will celebrate their 50-year legacy when they bring their THE WHO HITS 50! TOUR to North America in 2015.  THE WHO HITS 50! TOUR will kick off its spring run April 15 in Tampa, FL and include 20 stops throughout the east before wrapping May 30 in Forest Hills, NY.  The fall leg will launch September 14 in San Diego, CA and begin with west coast dates throughout the U.S. and across Canada before concluding November 4 in Philadelphia, PA.  Tickets go on sale to the general public on Friday, October 17 at 10:00am (local time) at and THE WHO HITS 50! TOUR is being presented by AEG Live.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Come to the Cabaret?

The pub/restaurant Austin Public House (formerly The Flying Pig)  recently applied for a cabaret license. 

Friday, October 3, 2014

The Aston's Website

The Aston has gone live with its website, with some neat pictures of the apartments: The Aston Forest Hills By the way, what is that enormous body of water in the website's slide show? Makes it look like Forest Hills is a marina or something. Nice touch. I'd just like to go sailing there one of these days—if I can find it.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Happy New Year

Rosh Hashanah begins tonight and continues through sundown Friday. Shanah Tovah!

Rumblings About the Noise

As expected, a group of people who live near the Stadium have organized to complain, this time mostly about the noise levels. It's gotten some coverage from local papers and today The NY Times chimes in: As Concerts Return to Forest Hills Stadium, So Do Complaints

I really like this part:
Some residents have begun a group, Concerned Citizens of Forest Hills, to protect their quality of life as well as their property values, which they fear are diminishing. 
I wonder if they factor into those property values how the concerts:

1) Have put Forest Hills on the map again? They've given the neighborhood marvelous free publicity, something it lost when the last concerts ended and the US Open moved away.
2) How the thousands of concert-goers that visit with each show patronize local restaurants and bars, doing wonders for all of these local businesses? Just look at all the empty store fronts on Austin and you can see how much more work needs to be done in that regard. These concerts have been a blessing for many of the establishments that have opened here recently. Have you seen the crowds outside Banter after a concert?
3) How the thousands of concert-goers who visit leave with a positive impression of our neighborhood. I've personally overheard concert-goers asking local residents things like "So how long does it take to get to Manhattan from here?" as they consider it might be a cool place to live. Again, something that only drives up property values.

Also, speaking to just Forest Hills residents now, isn't it really cool to be able to walk from your homes to a music concert and then walk home again? I've done it, and it's pretty darn awesome.

So... can you deal with a little extra noise for a few hours every several weeks during the summer to help your neighborhood thrive? Really? I mean, they always end by 10 p.m. and most have not been on school nights. And, in the long run, if you really, really think about it, you probably gain a lot too from these concerts by having an improving neighborhood with more restaurants, bars and stores to enjoy. 

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

What I'm Hearing...

1. Strange goings-on at the Cinemark Theater on Metropolitan Ave. Reportedly missed a child's birthday party recently, its website is down. Is it opened or closed?

2. Sign for new eatery appears in 'Austin Street Mall.' Couldn't find any reference to this place on the Web. I just hope whatever it is they want me to munch on, it's delicious...

The Replacements Concert Photos

Thanks to Aubrey for sending these in of last Friday's concert.

Sunday, September 21, 2014