Monday, December 19, 2016

Best and Worst of 2016

Best of 2016:

1) Shake Shack - The best fast food burger chain in NYC opens right here on Austin. It was kind of surreal at first because it was such a step up from so many of the other fast food places we've had here. Shake Shack has set a new standard for fast food restaurants in Forest Hills and it's a real feather in our cap that they chose to open here.

2) NY Times Names Forest Hills One of NYC's Hottest Neighborhoods

3) The Bund - Finally, a really good Chinese restaurant sets up shop in The Hills!

4) Forest Hills Stadium Concerts - Summer 2016 saw an awesome lineup.  Disclosure, Bob Dylan. Dolly Parton, Paul Simon, Van Morrison, The New York Pops. Heck, even Mumford returned for an encore presentation. And with Tom Petty scheduled for this coming summer, things will continue to rock at our Stadium in 2017!

5) The QueensWay Moves Closer to Reality - The project says it has raised over $1 million to bring a much-needed, ambitious park attraction right here to Forest Hills. I love the idea because it would connect us directly to Forest Park, which right now requires you to risk life and limb to get to by foot. Trust me, I did just that for the first time this past summer and was left thinking - Geez, such an awesome park. Why should it be easier for me to get to Central Park from Forest Hills than this one when it's so close?

6) Target Opens - Finally, we don't have to hop onto the subway to get to Target. But this one was barely a 'Best of' for me. I have now joined so many others who buy bulk items online so I've barely visited our Target since it opened! But it's still good to have for those items - like printer paper?? - that were impossible to find at the last minute here before!

7) Empanadas Truck - Check off a fast and convenient place to get some delish empanadas from the VERY long list of foods we still need to see come to FoHi: A Fried chicken place, BBQ, A good Hot Dog place, a French restaurant, an Indian restaurant, A Make-Your-Own-Salad place for God's Sake!, an upscale, premium sandwich place, what else am I forgetting??

8) Snowdays - Hey, the millennials seem to like this ice creamery. I went to it once and need to go back and try some more of their offerings.

Epic Fails of 2016:

1) No Local Bookshop - How can we have a neighborhood without a place to buy books? This is a no-brainer in more ways than one!

2) Queens Blvd. - Just as unsightly, just as atrocious, just as dangerous and disgusting as it's always been. Thankfully, they have plans to improve it in 2017 — finally!

3) Subway Delays - Horrible in 2016. The only thing that makes it tolerable is the knowledge that they are working to upgrade our Queens Blvd. subway lines with the latest technology. Here's hoping it will make a difference.

4) Restaurant Row Development - To take away one of the major attractions of our neighborhood to build another condo is self-defeating. If you take away all of the nice things about our neighborhood, it will only serve to hurt property values and eventually deter people from living, shopping and eating here.

5) Haagen Dazs Closes - This was a sad and surprising development, probably brought on by the opening of all the new ice cream places on Austin, including Shake Shack, which is my personal fave for shakes and ice cream.

6) Arsonist freak still at large - What else can we say? At least the fires stopped in 2016, but this emotionally disturbed nutcase remains free.

7) Chipotle - Please, someone convince me I can go back. I did love it so. It was so convenient, but.. I ... just....can' A mix of anger, a desire for retribution, and plain old fear.

8) I - Still - Need a Salad - Please someone bring a Just Salad or Chopt to Austin Street or nearby. Please, for the love of all that is holy!

And Finally:

9) Election 2016 - It is looking even worse than I expected, an unmitigated disaster and he hasn't even taken office yet! May God Save Us All. And By Us I mean humanity. And I am not joking in the least.

It is genuinely terrifying and so, so sad for our country and the world at large.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Big Changes Coming to Queens Blvd. in Forest Hills

Finally, the long-awaited improvements are coming to our stretch of Queens Blvd.

Bike lanes, more space for pedestrians, hopefully some much-needed beautification, and a safer roadway in general for pedestrians.

Hey, anything will be an improvement for this inappropriate major thoroughfare that runs smack through a residential neighborhood.

Anything that makes it more pedestrian-friendly and slows down the nutty drivers as they race through our neighborhood is a long time in coming. This is New York City, after all. It's not Wichita. If you want to live the automobile lifestyle, I have a nice house in suburbia to sell you.

From DNA Info: Long-Awaited Queens Blvd. Revamp Coming to Forest Hills and Rego Park: City

And, while we're on the subject of Queens Blvd., there is an interesting proposal to revitalize the block near MacDonald Park. Just a proposal at this point, but boy would this be an improvement over what is at that location now.

8-Story Luxury Office Building Planned Near MacDonald Park in Forest Hills

Monday, December 12, 2016

First Snow

The first snow of the season provided a nice, festive frosting to Forest Hills last night...

Sunday, December 11, 2016

New Restaurant Review: The Bund

Forest Hills finally has a basic, go-to Chinese restaurant that's actually good. It's been a long time in coming. As I've posted earlier, we have a ton of other Asian places - Thai, Japanese, Asian fusion, sushi - but for some reason a simple Chinese restaurant that was actually really good had been beyond our reach. These other places are great, but sometimes—God damnit!—you just want a freakin' egg roll and pork freakin' fried rice and don't want to pay through the nose to get it!

We've ordered in from The Bund, the new Chinese restaurant that opened in the former Knish Nosh space along Queens Blvd., enroute to Rego Park, a few times and I find their food to remind me of the excellent Chinese food I grew up eating on Long Island: Reasonably-priced (actually dirt-cheap compared to the 'fancy' Asian places we're already brimming with), filling and delicious!

Now, Long Island Chinese food wasn't the more "authentic" Chinese you find in Chinatown here in the City or in Flushing, but for dishes that satisfy that American Chinese food craving - spare ribs, egg rolls, fried rice, Lo mein, Chicken and Broccoli, Kung Pao - you know what I'm talking about - the places on Long Island and other NYC suburbs, just couldn't be beat. Sure, they were devastating to the waist line, but sometimes you just gotta say what the hell!

Anyone looking for THAT kind of Chinese food, old-fashioned, authentic NY-style, should be pleased by the basics at The Bund. I found the choices mentioned above all excellent, and pretty much stuck to the flavors and style that I grew up with. The only difference I noticed was when it came to the egg rolls, which had an interesting slightly peppery flavor. I can't vouch for the more complicated offerings on their menu. But if you try them, let us all know.

The one drawback I found was in the Hot and Sour Soup. I find this issue with so many Chinese restaurants in the City today: these soups are always kinda hot (if not just plain salty) but there's barely any "sour," unless you go to a more pricey place. Why is that? The same thing at The Bund. Don't forget the sour in your Hot and Sour Soup!

Grade: A

The Bund is located at 100-30 Queens Blvd. in Forest Hills. They are open Sunday - Thursday 11:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. and Friday - Saturday 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. And, they deliver to central Forest Hills!! (718) 275-8000

The Bund's Kung Pao Chicken, pork fried rice and egg rolls - full calorie, indulgent and delish! ENJOY!