By Merle Exit
There’s a new café on Metropolitan Avenue in Forest Hills with a French name of Poesie, where the style of cooking is not about the cream sauces. Instead, owner Alexandra Rodionova, an entrepreneur from Russia, is offering “healthy food.” The small bistro with both indoor and outdoor seating has an atmosphere that encourages relaxation. Bistro tables and chairs line the outside along with two Adirondack lounge chairs facing the street.
Alexandra earned her degree as a Specialist of Restaurant Business in Russia and was managing a similar place like this café, which led to her to dreaming of having her own here in the United States. Her dream became reality in March of 2017 as Poesie Cafe, an affordable place with great coffee-based drinks, delicious desserts and fresh squeezed juices. Rodionova later decided to incorporate a full breakfast menu, including poached eggs, omelets, oatmeal and Greek yogurt with fresh fruits and berries; along with some lunch items, like salads and healthy French sandwiches called tartines.
She and her husband have mixed their Russian and Indian cultures into cooking, experimenting with flavors. “It is difficult to stick to a specific type of cuisine,” said Rodionova. “We just cook what we like, what is tasty and definitely healthy. That is the main criteria. Unfortunately, many food industries are concentrated on serving cheap and often unhealthy food with the purpose of getting maximum profit. We try to think about a healthy and beneficial side of nutrition and provide it with an affordable price.”
Rodionova saw a food industry moving forward where customers are health conscious and value quality food. She talked about a special style of cooking known as Sous Vide, a French method of slow-cooking on a low temperature, storing the food in an air tightened vacuumed bag with spices and oil/butter into a water bath, which is similar to steaming, but different because of its elevation in rich flavor.
“Sous Vide is very popular in Europe,” said Rodionova. “Many Michelen star restaurants are using this method in their culinary. It was invented in 1970, probably as a modern way of cooking food slowly in its own juice like our grandmothers would cook food underground or in the clay ovens where the meal would stay hours or days at the low heat temperature. Nowadays it’s extremely popular for people who take care of their health.” Rodionova said that this method of cooking helps to save all the vitamins and opens the brightest sides of flavor. “It is impossible to over or undercook because of the newest software that controls temperature and timing of cooking. Your steak, for instance, comes out exactly medium rare or medium well. Its healthy, it’s safe and it’s delicious.”
Rodionova said that customers love their fresh juices and protein shakes due to the area being concentrated with different gyms, dance/yoga studios and various sport centers. “In the morning, fresh croissants and Danishes from the famous ‘Balthazar’ are desirable favorites.”
Herbal teas are offered via a French press placed at your table including a tea that features the taste of berries imported from Russia. “In eastern Europe this tree is very common. My grandma used to ask me to go to our yard and collect some berries. The berries would grow with sharp needles in between and would always poke my fingers. They are tiny and very juicy, however with a big seed which makes the actual berry impossible to enjoy. These berries can be frozen and lately used for drinks, teas and juices as immune system boosters, as well as a remedy for arthritis, diabetes, eczema, high blood pressure and many more.” She said that their guests enjoy this freshly brewed tea not only as a healthy item on the menu but also a hearty drink for both cold and hot weather.
Rodionova has made further use of the restaurant for activities and entertainment. “We are having kids art classes during June and planning to continue with some kids programs for the rest of the summer. Parents feel very appreciative that we doing something like this for the community. Early age kids (1-7 years old) learn about art and do art themselves. And a lot of parents get pleasantly surprised how their kids act and perform during art classes. So it’s a big plus for everybody.”
In addition, Poesie Café has planned some entertainment for adults to include live music, paint workshops, essential oil workshops and book presentations.
Poesie Café is located at 102-10 Metropolitan Ave. in Forest Hills.