Friday, March 28, 2014

Forest Hills Get Some -- Dated? -- Attention

My email box and Twitter feed has lit up today with readers telling me about the shout out Forest Hills got from the Serious Eats Blog. Well, I read it and while it's always nice for our 'hood to get some attention, I have to say I found the post there quite a bit dated. At least the blogger admits it's the place where they grew up and I assume don't currently live, because the places listed are kinda old and the post barely mentions any of the newer excellent places that have opened in the past couple of years. I mean, like, no Tuscan Hills? E-gads! No Station House or Banter or Flying Pig? Whaaa? At least Jack & Nellie's, La Boulangerie and Wafa's made the list!  Oh, and that headline -- "Sleeper Food Neighborhood" -- um, really? I mean I like to sleep a lot, but I like to eat almost as much and am kept quite busy keeping up with all the new restaurants and bars opening here... The Local's Guide to Eating Well in Forest Hills, Queens's Sleeper Food Neighborhood


  1. I've been to more than 1000 restaurants in NY, most ethnic places. Queens does 'ethnic' food well, New American, Western European, or Fusion...not so much.

    Hands down the best places in Forest Hills are the following, in no particular order:
    --> Danny Brown's: I've been much more impressed by recent dinners here, especially the monthly French classic specials (Cassoulet, Choucroute Garnie, Coq Au Vin)
    --> Katsuno: best for non-sushi Japanese food (i.e. Kaiseki)
    --> Nick's Pizza
    --> Station House: Best beer bar / whiskey bar in Queens -- good crowd as well; not too young or too old most of the time
    --> Andre's Hungarian: even try their home cooked Hungarian entrees (such as the cabbage rolls or Paprikash)
    --> Marani: their Khachapuri is delicious!
    --> Jack and Nellies: Nice wine and beer selection -- good tapas
    --> Silk Cakes: simply wonderful and serving Stumptown coffee!!
    --> Cheburechnaya, Cafe Arzu, Stixx, Rohkat -- all very tasty Uzbeki/Bukharan Cuisine
    --> The Grill; very tasty kebabs
    --> Carmel --> excellent middle eastern / Caucasus goods
    --> La Boulangerie; great bread, coffee - not so much
    --> Bareburger - chain, yes but a good one at that
    --> Pahal Zan
    --> Knish Nush
    --> Ben's Best
    --> Dani's Pizza; the Pesto slice is great
    --> Eddie's Sweet Shop
    --> East Ocean Palace -- yes, the dim sum is still very good; ask a Cantonese speaker...
    --> Black Sea (used to be Istanbul Restaurant)
    --> Tuscan Hills
    --> The taco cart on 71st Av
    --> Banter; good Irish pub -- these guys own Cuckoo's Nest; they know what they're doing.
    --> Wafa's: best middle eastern food in NY. Period.
    --> Sushi Yasu; when Yasu is preparing it
    --> Mr. Vino Cucina; great sandwiches and beer selection
    --> Cheese World
    --> Forest Hills Fishery
    --> Uva rara
    --> Tazzina
    --> Dirty Pierres: sometimes...
    --> Tu Casa (good Chicken)
    --> 5 Burro: the food, not the crowd...
    --> London Lennies
    --> Sveta's Place

    I know many of these places are stretching the border of 'FoHi':

    While this list is extensive, most of these place are somewhere to grab a quick bite. Not many places in forest hills to get elevated food, in a relaxed environment (low lighting), to grab a good drink. I'm referring to places where young professionals can take a date with atmosphere; more cool rather than 'boy this food is interesting' kinda places.

    Looking forward to Reef (we'll see) and El Coyote (great Margaritas, and guac made tableside!)

  2. My major issue with the many (majority?) of Queens dining establishments - where Forest Hills is a pretty good representation of these examples, especially the crusty old Italian joints littered around here - is the following:

    1) They don't know how the treat young professionals or the newer affluent

    There is still a time warp going on. Either it's low market, open it up to all the family with bright lights, large portions and kids running around (looks like a cafeteria) or it's a stuffy up tight 'up market' restaurant that thinks the customers are stuck in the 80s/90s -- waiters with vests, big menus, etc... i.e. the stuff that the restaurant 'Carbone' satirically represents (very well I'll add - check it out)

    Please, proprietors -- go to Soho, the Village, Bushwick, etc... and see what people are willing to spend these days for a cool, down to earth atmosphere with elevated food. Young professionals with money do not want to be treated like their parents (or, in many cases, grandparents)

    Avoid the Upper East Side...

    2) No focus - especially ethnic restaurants. Choose a customer base; forget the rest

    Do not open a falafel/pizza/Nepalese joint... too many options on the menu means there will be mostly poorly executed food in general. Yes, you will lose customers -- but who cares!!! You need to determine your market - many New Yorkers are adventurous so represent your country loud and proud. Crazy Crab in Flushing is an example of this -- they do Cajun Seafood Broils and... Burmese/Yunnan Cuisine? The food is very good but I believe they would be better with focus.

    Not just ethnic, but also new establishments such as Station House ; don't like paying $10 for an awesome craft beer -- cool. Go down the block to another place and drink your colored water somewhere else.

    3) Thinking that the customer won't notice if you switch ingredients, restaurant decor material, etc... here and there for cheaper items

    We notice...just don't do it...if the rents too high that you need to cheapen food (or hire incompetent staff; an example of a place that could have done really well but is failing -- I won't mention the name), open somewhere else...

    End Rant...

    1. Regarding point #2, you are wrong. You very bad man. Look what happened to Dream Cafe when restaurant owner Babu Bhatt changed his mixed cuisine restaurant and focused on Pakistani cuisine. There were no people. Nobody came.

    2. I stand corrected!!! Seinfeld is awesome...!!!