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pancakes
pancakes
The pancakes at Astoria's Café Triskell.

There’s nothing quite like pancakes for dinner, especially when those pancakes are Café Triskell’s tissue-paper thin buckwheat crepes painstakingly prepared in the culinary tradition of Brittany, France.

Once you pass through the doorway, you are transported to a secluded, rustic, French café with one cook, one server and just a handful of tables. Daily specials are inscribed on a chalkboard and the restaurant’s Facebook page. Chef Phillippe Fallait, a pastry chef by training, showcases both savory (try the chicken and goat cheese) and sweet crepes on the permanent menu alongside a handful of French classics.

Begin, of course, with a crock of French onion soup, the onions caramelized so tender they blend with the broth. Golden bubbles of cheese rise and fall before you in a thick layer of gruyere and swiss.

The frisée salad rivals even the best bistros in Manhattan, with a mountain of chicory, lardoons, buttery croutons, crumbles of bleu cheese and poached egg.

Next, five pinwheels arrive on a green-tinted platter – juicy chicken curled with ribbons of mozzarella, swiss and savory slivers of ham. A hearty entrée for one, the plate easily divides into meal-teasers for two to five people.

Salty medallions of corned beef arrive on crispy potatoes, topped with arugula, a poached egg, and hollandaise sauce, elevating corned beef hash to rustic French breakfast.

I am a sucker for a croque madame (anything with eggs and cheese, please), and the version here is one of my very favorites. Essentially, it is a toasted ham and cheese sandwich. But at Triskell, the pièce de resistance is a delicate béchamel that bubbles under the blankets of swiss, all topped with a golden-centered egg, perfect for popping and dipping.

Steak frites arrive sizzling in a skillet, and a pork stroganoff caught me off guard in a wonderful way, the tender creamy sautee served with a buttery bowl of mashed potatoes, ideal for mixing and matching bites of flavor. The chicken and lamb bastilla with a pompom of frisée on it transports me to Morocco, with the crumbled meat and seasonings packed into a crisp pastry parcel. Escargots are rendered sublimely tender and buttery, with intense garlic and sweet, tangy bursts of cherry tomatoes.

Dessert here is a must, with a flute of sparkling apple cider. The lemon and sugar crepe is sublime in its simplicity, and even better with a mixed berry compote on top. If they have not run out (because they so often do), ask for a shot glass of Fallait’s signature banana fudge jam to top a plain crepe. It will leave your lips sweet for an after-dinner French kiss.

Café Triskell
33-04 36th Avenue, Astoria
718-472-0612
Wed – Sun, 11a.m. – 10 p.m.

 BRADLEY HAWKS

 

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