Monday, April 30, 2018

Picture of the Day


Thursday, April 26, 2018

Restaurant Row News

Saw this in the window of the recently-opened Italian restaurant Numero 28 on Restaurant Row. I'm sure hoping this means we will soon be able to get their absolutely superb pizzas delivered!


Also, I saw today that there is significant construction going on at the old Santa Fe restaurant location, also on Restaurant Row. They were pouring concrete, etc. So I sure am hoping that that space is finally being filled by, um, a restaurant, instead of a temporary Halloween costume shop again?

Monday, April 23, 2018

“Rad Girl Revolution” - an Empowering Children’s Book Featuring Photos of More Than 50 Girls from Queens - is Live on Kickstarter

Rad Girl Revolution, an upcoming children's book that empowers young girls and encourages gender equal mindsets in young boys, recently launched a $15,000 Kickstarter campaign.

Created by two Forest Hills moms, “Rad Girl Revolution” fills a gap in the girl empowerment book market.

“We love reading inspiring books such as “Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls”, “She Persisted”, and “Little Leaders” to our children, but we saw a void we needed to serve. As a mother of two girls, I believe it is very important to teach my children about the incredible women of the past, but also feel it’s essential for young girls to be able to picture themselves becoming the inspiring women of the future!” said Sharita Manickam, author of Rad Girl Revolution. “We also wanted our book to be primarily for a younger audience. Gender stereotypes are set in children as early as age 6, so it is crucial to expose them to empowering books and reach them during the critical developmental ages of 3-7 years old.”

RAD stands for Rise Above Doubt and Reach Any Dream. The book will feature 30 inspiring storybook-style photos of real little girls in fields typically under-represented by women, along with a rhyming verse describing each career. The book showcases occupations including Scientist, Judge, Artist, Astronaut, Doctor, Pilot, Journalist, Director, Chef, Author, CEO, Engineer, Paleontologist, and President.  

“We felt it was important to use photographs for our project. We are showing young girls career opportunities they may not otherwise know exist, and we believe photos of real girls help further drive home the reality. We don't want our message getting muddled in the fantasy of typical picture book illustrations,” explained Jen Bruno, photo-illustrator for “Rad Girl Revolution”. “We also made it a point to cast diverse models as we want every little girl who picks up our book to see themselves represented in the pages.”

Two-year old Frankie, who has Down syndrome, posed as an artist at a photoshoot done at Little Pulp, a collaborative art and printmaking workshop for kids located in Glendale.  "This project gives us a platform to show a child with a disability in a viable profession and will hopefully challenge the preconceptions of its readers and make them say "Why not?'" said Frankie’s mother, Farah Lyner.

Four-year old Sofia posed as a chef at Tuscan Hills, a popular Italian restaurant in Forest Hills co-owned by her father. “When I grow up, I want to be a chef like my daddy” Sofia declared.  “We are very happy that Sofia had the opportunity to participate in a project like this that encourages girls to dream big,” said her mother Juliana Ramirez.

The 30-day Kickstarter runs through May 5, 2018. Funds raised will be used to finish the remaining photoshoots and print and ship the first 1,000 copies of “Rad Girl Revolution”.

 “We are encouraged by the increased momentum toward gender equality, and feel that putting these images and rhymes in front of today’s youth can help better level the playing field from the start,” stated Manickam.

The book and additional rewards can be pre-ordered now on Kickstarter at https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/radgirlbook/the-childrens-book-for-little-girls-who-dream-big

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Street Fair - April 22

The smaller neighborhood street fair is happening today, Sunday April 22nd.  It runs along Queens Blvd., from Yellowstone Blvd. to 70th Road.  Perfect weather for it!


Hurry and get a turkey leg before they're all gone!

Monday, April 16, 2018

Ice Skating, Holiday Vendors Planned for Forest Hills Stadium Winter Season

According to Newsday:
With the once-crumbling infrastructure of the venue now replaced and reinforced, Luba said it was time to move to the next step. After Forest Hills Stadium wraps up its concert season this year, promoters plan to transform it into “Winter Wonderland,” which will include a skating rink inside the stadium surrounded by Christmas-tree and other holiday vendors. “We want to keep the place up and running year-round,” Luba said. “The ice skating rink will be for the community.” 

 Read the full article: Forest Hills Stadium sets improvements and concert schedule


Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Volunteers Needed! MacDonald Park Spring Cleanup


After several postponements due to Old Man Winter hanging on way past his welcome, they are finally going to do the cleanup and planting bed preparation this Saturday, April 14, 10:00-12:30.
There are no other dates available in April that they can do this.
Tools and gloves provided.
There is no snow on the horizon and temps will be in the balmy 70s.

We are looking to make some nice improvements to the park this year with our $10,000 NYC Council grant.

Compadres 77 Restaurant Review

My name’s Mark, founder and creator of the everything food blog Mealswithmark.com!  I started the blog because I love and enjoy cooking and want to share my recipes and my culinary discoveries with others. Compadres 77 has a few drawbacks, but the one possible saving grace might actually be the food! Join me in my experience at Compadres 77’s new location in Forest Hills.

Compadres 77 is a New Mexican restaurant that opened about three weeks ago in the former location of the Italian restaurant Tuscan Hills (a Forest Hills staple which moved to another location in Forest Hills) located on busy Queens Blvd.
With a lot of competition in Forest Hills for Mexican fare, does Compadres 77 have what it takes to survive?
Upon walking into Compadres 77 with my partner, it was a cute place, but will definitely not sweep you off your feet with a wow factor! It had minimal decor and lacked ambiance. The restaurant felt like more of a fast food restaurant/take out place like Chipotle or Dos Torros, than a fine dining experience, but we were keeping open minds.  The Mexican music was a nice added touch to make up for the lack of ambiance.  They should definitely try to hide the huge refrigerator that you see when you walk through the doors. 


We were not approached when we first entered the restaurant, but when we finally were, we were told we could just sit anywhere. Since there was no better section than others we just chose a random seat.
We were given menus and not told much else. The server asked if we wanted anything to drink and we asked for water, which took some time to get to our table. *just a side not, they were not that busy.
We asked our server for a drink menu because when going to a Mexican restaurant, we love having a margarita on the rocks with some amazing authentic Mexican food! The server informed us that they don’t serve alcohol and was not sure when or if they would be getting it in the future. He did not offer us any other drink options besides the water!
Our server brought us over complimentary tortilla chips and salsa and we ordered guacamole for starters. He brought us over the guacamole and didn’t offer us any additional chips, we had to ask for more ourselves. The guacamole was good, not amazing but definitely fresh and tasty. However, it would have been nice if they came to the table and made the guacamole in front of you like they do at some other Mexican Restaurants (example: El coyote). It would have added to the ambiance and the character of the place.


My partner and I always order different things on the menu so we have the opportunity to try more stuff because we share. :). My partner ordered a beef quesadilla and I ordered a couple of tacos.
Let’s start with the quesadilla. The beef quesadilla was surprising delicious. The beef was very tender and the quesadilla was packed with cheese, which we both love! The server also brought over two sauces and sour cream to dip the quesadillas in! The Green sauce was a nice added kick along with the sour cream!

I ordered two tacos and we split them in half.   I ordered the fried Pork and the Chorizo Tacos.  They came plated nicely and loaded with onions and cilantro with a side of lime and radishes to add to the tacos.  The tacos were very tasty.  The meat was seasoned and cooked well.  But again, they were good but nothing special.  Even though they were two different tacos with different meats, they tasted identical.  There was nothing distinguishing one from the next.   We both said they taste similar to the tacos from the Taco Truck on Austin Street for the same price.

We ended up deciding to order a dessert to share.  We asked the server if the desserts were made in house, he stated no but they were all delicious.  That was disappointing.  In my opinion, when a restaurant does not make their dessert in house, they lose some credibility.  We decided to go with the Tres Leches Cake.  Tres Leches is my favorite Mexican dessert and one of my all time favorite desserts.  The Tres Leches sauce was good, but the cake to me tasted stale.   It was a disappointing piece of cake. 

In summary, I feel Compadres 77 needs to step up their game some if they are going to survive in Forest Hills.   First, they need to spruce up their appearance and ambiance.  They need to add more Mexican flare and décor.  They need to make themselves stand out from the crowd of other Mexican restaurants.  Maybe even add some live music.   They have to show the El Coyote and the 5 Burro Café regulars that they deserve their patronage too. 
Second, they need to work on either obtaining a liquor license or allowing for BYOB.  Guests not having the option to order a drink or have drinks with their meals, will limit their clientele.   A lot of people that go out to dinner versus having dinner at home want that option/availability.  Who wouldn’t want a Margarita with some good Mexican food after a long and stressful day at the office?
Third area of improvement would be their customer service.  They need to do a better job training their staff to be more attentive to their customers.  Check in on them more frequently and asking questions.  Also, make the guacamole table side - this would add to the customer service and would also add to the ambiance and the experience.  If you advertise that it is fresh, show your customers that.
Lastly, make sure the desserts you serve are fresh, if not don’t serve them.  Better yet, get someone in house that can make desserts.  It would give the place more credibility.
The one plus that Compadres 77 has in its favor, is the food is pretty darn good!  They just have to build off of that!  They have potential to be a great addition to the neighborhood.

Compadres 77 is located at 115-20 Queens Blvd., at the corner of 77th Ave in Forest Hills.
Check out my review of Numero 28 on Restaurant Row in Forest Hills:

https://mealswithmark.com/numero-28-pizzeria-review/
Or just check out my blog at https://mealswithmark.com for some great recipes for your next weeknight dinner!
Until next time!  Have a delicious day!

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Old Vienna Cafe To Make Triumphant Return To Forest Hills!

Happy Easter and Passover! And I am happy to bring you this terrific news. Those who have been living in Forest Hills for several years will be thrilled to learn that Old Vienna Cafe is making a surprise return to Forest Hills after a multi-year absence. The much-beloved restaurant, which was formerly in the location where Banter is, near the Midway Movie Theater, will not only be returning but will be located in the enormous former New York & Co. space on Austin St.

Yes, this Eastern European, Iron-Curtain-themed restaurant will be returning in the coming weeks! Here, to refresh your memory is my actual review of it from way back in 2011, before it disastrously closed its doors after Forest Hillers decided Soviet-style prices, like $10 for a bottle of Coca-Cola, just didn't appeal to them very much.

Early Impressions: Old Vienna Cafe

I stopped by the Old Vienna Cafe on its opening night Saturday. I really liked this very original and unique new restaurant. You really get the feel you are visiting a restaurant in Vienna or Eastern Europe, from the table in the center loaded with small pastries, to the accordion player serenading you, to the decorative chandelier. It all makes for a very cool place to relax and unwind with friends. Oh, and did I mention the coffee and cake are delicious?

The menu includes a variety of small plates and sandwiches such as a cheese platter, and assorted tea sandwiches; entrees like mixed grill kebabs, bratwurst and weiner schnetzeil; salads; wines and imported beer; teas and coffees, and a variety of desserts like fruit tarts, vienna cheesecake and creme brulee.

Also, though the atmosphere in Old Vienna Cafe is very relaxed and fun, I would characterize this as a fairly upscale restaurant. The prices can be a bit steep ($8 for the slice of cake in the photo below, $23 for weiner schnetziel, $5 for a cappuccino and $8 for some of the beers.) But, hey, you get to listen to a fabulous accordion player as you soak up the Eastern European vibe. So I guess you're paying some for the unique atmosphere. I only tried their dessert and coffee, which were really good, so can't vouch for the entrees or appetizers.

Here are some pics I snapped. I will scan and upload their entire takeout menu soon.