BY COLIN HOLMES
Tucked away under the rails of 31st Street is a new restaurant, aptly named The Astorian, staffed by a team of food and drink aficionados ready to share their expertise with a curious crowd. That is the goal behind The Astorian: to teach the town a few new things about the dining out experience.
Brought to the 30th Avenue area by the creators of the popular, stylish Queens staple, Forest Hills Station House, this new hotspot is quite the achievement. The diverse menu caters to those looking for something unique and interesting by reinventing the classics we love.
“We’re forcing people to be more adventurous,” said General Manager Bobby Burns, whose love for the industry is clear in his excitement about his new endeavor. And rightfully so.
“Everyone cares,” he explained. “When we hire, we don’t hire based on a resume. We hire intelligent, altruistic people. You’ll see it in the food. You’ll see it in the drinks.”
Previously the home of the Astoria Brewhouse, the two-story restaurant has been revamped from its pub-style roots to house a vintage, industrial design. The outdoor area of its predecessor has been brought back with a retractable dome glass ceiling, making it accessible for all seasons.
This lively ambiance leads in to a carefully curated menu, pulling flavors and inspirations from around the world and putting them into the approachable, American-style dishes we all know and love.
As a first course, the Cottage Pie Empanadas were a perfect portion, bringing the savory meat pies of Scottish roots to the style of Mexican street food. Stuffed with ground lamb and beef, peas and carrots, the empanadas were simple, crispy and delicious. A demi-glace served on the side added the perfect hint of sweetness to complement the spices, leading to double-, triple- and quadruple-dipping.
Torn between options like the Korean-inspired Bibimbap Burger and the Banh Mi Ripper footlong, I chose a Southern-style classic for my main course: the Buttermilk Chicken and Biscuit. This fork-and-knife sandwich features whiskey sour pickles, house slaw and spicy honey-butter, sandwiched by a blue cheese biscuit. The buttermilk coating made for a sweet component to the dish, which was perfectly paired with the salty richness of the soft, savory blue cheese pastry.
Tempted by The Astorian’s list of vegetarian options, I went for the Eggplant ‘Meat’-balls, served with a house pomodoro sauce, shaved Parmesan and toasted crostini. These hand-rolled bites, along with the many other vegetarian options, effectively create a rich dining experience for those with a plant-based lifestyle.
The Astorian’s desire to create an adventurous learning experience for each guest who walks in is executed by its fun, eclectic food and diverse, delicious cocktails.
The Astorian, 28-30 31st St., is open at 5 p.m. during the week and noon on weekends. Check them out on Instagram at @astoriannyc for updates.