Anise Fusion, Sunnyside

According to the Sunnyside Post, Anise Fusion is an Indian/Chinese restaurant. I disagree. They have a number of Thai dishes on their menu and only a few hints of Indian (the mango lassi is the biggest giveaway). Regardless of their ethnic origins, their menu has too much going on and not enough flavor.

We decided to order from Anise Fusion as a function of Hurricane Irene. What restaurants would be open during the catastrophic event? We thought we’d try the new place in the face of the end of the world (as reported by the TV meteorologists).

anise fusion lollipop chicken

lollipop chicken

For appetizers, we opted for the lollipop chicken and chive pancake.

We ordered the lollipop chicken because we had been so fond of Tangra’s. There were four pieces, all of which were crisp and light on the meat, as they should be. Both my dining partner and I enjoyed them.  Anise Fusion definitely does the dish justice.

The chive pancake was a disappointment. Dark green and cut up into bite-size pieces, the pancake lacked flavor and was accompanied by a soy-like sauce.  I wouldn’t recommend it. Yum Yum Queens puts out a much better rendition.

My dining partner ordered tofu with cashew nut sauce, a Chinese delicacy. It lacked flavor and punch, though I liked the inclusion of pineapples in the dish.

anise fusion "red curry"

"red curry"

I got the red curry with chicken, a Thai specialty. I make red curry with tofu at home all the time and it comes out just fine–a thickened sauce with bamboo shoots, peas, and green beans. This is what I expected of Anise Fusion, at the very least. I was sorely disappointed. The red curry sauce was thin and flavorless, and there was an ample presence of bamboo shoots–an almost overwhelming presence–without anything else. I usually like to see some vegetables in my red curry. Anise Fusion didn’t deliver. I wouldn’t recommend ordering red curry from there–again, Yum Yum does a much better job with this dish.

If you’re looking for Indian food, try Saffron Gardens. If you want Thai, try Yum Yum. If you desire fusion, definitely go to Tangra, which is right around the corner from Anise Fusion. You can get take-out from all of these places (I’m almost certain). Don’t waste your time with Anise Fusion. The best part of my meal was the Thai iced tea that I ordered–but, honestly, who can screw that up?

Anise Fusion

4343 41st Street (between 43rd Avenue and Queens Boulevard)

Sunnyside, NY

Take the 7 to 40th Street and walk one block east.

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Molly Blooms, Sunnyside

If you haven’t been to Sunnyside lately, you might not know about Molly Blooms. It’s a relatively new Irish pub on Queens Boulevard. Its black sign with “Molly Blooms”, a reference to Ulysses, emblazoned in gold is a striking addition to the otherwise drab thoroughfare.

What Molly Blooms is known for is their extensive list of beer. To be honest, their draft inventory isn’t the most impressive I’ve seen, but their bottle list extends for what seems like forever.

I had a Blue Moon last night, served in a tall, narrow, shapely glass. My dining partner ordered a Six Point Sweet Action, which he didn’t favor. Yuengling, his reliable, was unavailable.

molly blooms ham and gruyere sandwich

ham and gruyere sandwich

Molly Blooms has a humble seating arrangement inside and about eight outdoor tables in their beer garden, where we sat. The indoor decor is colorful and deeply contrasted by its dark furniture. A long bar, always full to the brim, takes up much of the space.

A sandwich board outside proclaims, “Food served all day”. A picture of a hamburger, a sub, and a roasted chicken supposedly depict the array of food available (or not–it’s just a figure of design, perhaps). In fact, Molly Blooms offers a hearty brunch, bolstered by a lumberjack’s Irish breakfast (served all day), and a simple dinner menu with daily specials.

molly blooms fish and chips

fish and chips

I opted for the Joyce Parisian ham and gruyere sandwich, accompanied by potato wedges. My dining partner ordered the fish and chips, an Irish pub favorite. My sandwich was delectable: thinly sliced ham cradled by melted gruyere and mustard on both interiors of the bread. Yum. The potato wedges were crunchy and potato-y (that’s to say, not too flavorable). I didn’t try the fish and chips, which came with a cup full of mushy peas that my dining partner termed “mashed potato-like” yet tasted nothing like mashed potato. (The starchiness, he contended, resembled mashed potatoes.) He enjoyed the fish and chips, but said they were “pretty standard”. (Check out this more in-depth portrait of the fish and chips at Sunnyside Food.)

We also ordered a “brownie” a la mode for dessert. I use quotation marks because it was, as the waitress explained, a “volcano-like chocolate cake”, not a brownie per se. It was sweet, hot, and delicious, and must have been freshly baked since it took about 20 minutes to arrive.

All said, Molly Blooms is a great place–if you can get a table. Because it’s new and “trendy”, it’s in high demand. Come early and often, as they say.

Molly Blooms

43-13 Queens Boulevard

Sunnyside, NY

Take the 7 train to 40th Street, walk to 43rd and Queens Boulevard – you can’t miss the sandwich board!

Raspberry Summer Cake

For most people, baking in August is anathema. But given the glorious weather on this August day, I thought, What the hell, let me bake a cake.

Yesterday, I went fruit and vegetable picking at Lawrence Farms in Newburgh, NY. We collected peaches, plums, peppers, corn, and raspberries. As we paid for our produce, a gigantic black cloud loomed overhead and spilled gallons of rainwater upon us. An organic vegetable rinse.

A coworker recently sent me a recipe for strawberry summer cake. I had wanted to try it out, but recognized that strawberry season had passed. Fate dropped an entire pint of raspberries in my lap, so I decided to bake the cake with raspberries, instead of strawberries.

raspberry summer cake

raspberry summer cake

The results? A fine not-too-sweet cake filled with delicious, fresh-picked raspberries. The recipe recommends some fresh whipped cream to accompany the cake. I may have to take a trip to Met to buy some.

 

Lobster Joint, Greenpoint

I recommend going to Lobster Joint during the week when the G train is running promptly on schedule. Unless, of course, you live in Greenpoint, where Lobster Joint is located. For the rest of you, heed my advice.

Small and poorly lit, Lobster Joint has only three picnic-size tables indoors and counter seating, plus a small bar. There’s a backyard, which I didn’t see since it was monsooning, and I imagine this is the place to be during sultry summer nights. Patrons order at the bar and wait for their food on the outskirts of the restaurant.

Its menu boasts a lobster dinner, a lobster roll, and lobster macaroni and cheese, in addition to a Pat La Frieda burger and a raw bar. There’s lobster salad and lobster ale, as well. I tried the lobster ale, which was a dark, full-bodied beer, and enjoyed it.

I ordered the lobster roll, which came with chips, fries, or salad, coleslaw, and a pickle. (I opted for the Cape Cod chips.) The lightly buttered, split-top roll spilled over with large chunks of lobster. One of the claw’s meat preserved its shape and was visibly intact sitting atop the roll. Tossed with mayo, the lobster was sweet and delicious.

My dining partner ordered the lobster macaroni and cheese on my behalf. It was my birthday and he knew I wanted to take a bite of the mac and cheese, so he consented to trying it. He also ordered the clam chowder, which I wouldn’t recommend as it was thinner and soupier than chowder ought to be. As for the macaroni and cheese, well, it was, in a word, spectacular. It was delivered in a small aluminum pan, straight from the oven. Large chunks of lobster were interspersed among the white cheddar shells. The upper crust was browned just enough to seal in the lobster/cheddar flavor.

We didn’t order dessert (again, it was my birthday – there was cake to be had at home), but they offer Cool Haus ice cream sandwiches. I’ve tried them before and they are very tasty.

MDP didn’t enjoy his dining experience, but I thought Lobster Joint was alright. I’m not sure I’d go back there, since I hate the G train and the place is a little bit far from the subway. Also, the seating situation is, at best, uncomfortable. If you’re in the neighborhood, it’s definitely worth a try, but don’t expect to sit at a table unless the backyard is open (and even then, it’s a crap shoot).

Lobster Joint

1073 Manhattan Avenue

Greenpoint, Brooklyn

Take the G train to Greenpoint Avenue, walk several blocks to Eagle Street

Astor Bake Shop, Astoria

Situated on the outskirts of Astoria, Astor Bake Shop may seem out-of-the-way to the average person. I assure you that the 10-minute walk from the train is completely worth it.

Astor Bake Shop is a small, many-windowed cafe with cute wooden tables and chairs. An enticing and appetizing display case filled with baked goodies faces the dining area. A small kitchen, at the far end of the cafe, runs perpendicular to the display case, encouraging an intimate feel to the dining space.

What is Astor Bake Shop known for? I can’t tell. What I do know is that they’ve got creative drinks (gingerade, sea salt lemonade) and solid burgers on their menu.

We started our meal with an heirloom tomato salad with watermelon and feta. The mild flavor of the cheese nicely accompanied the bursting fresh taste of the watermelon. Generously, the chef halved the salad and put it on two plates for us.

Astor Bake Shop burger

astor bake shop burger

I ordered the cheddar burger while my dining partner got the Croque Madame. Lacking the La Frieda blends of Manhattan, Astor Bake Shop quickly recovers with a solid, meaty burger. The toppings included were tomato, lettuce, and cucumber–an interesting addition. The crisp coolness of the cucumber accented the saltiness of the cheddar. Yum.

Though deluxe in flavor, the burger paled in comparison to MDP’s Croque Madame, which is a toasted sandwich filled with cheese, ham, and an egg. The saltiness of the ham delighted my tastebuds. I’m not a fan of salt, but both the burger and the Croque Madam contained *just* the right amount.

For dessert, we ordered a chocolate cupcake with white piping on top, so that it resembled a Tastykake cupcake of yore. The cake was dense and could have been moister, but MDP and I chalked up its dryness to the refrigeration of the display case. On the large side, the cupcake featured a thin layer of chocolate frosting on its top, which was, proportionally, not enough for the cupcake, in my opinion.

I wouldn’t recommend the baked goods at Astor Bake Shop–unless, of course, you arrive as they’re taking the confections from the oven–but wholeheartedly support their brunch and dinner menus.

Take a stroll down Astoria Boulevard to Astor Bake Shop. You won’t regret it.

Astor Bake Shop

12-23 Astoria Boulevard

Astoria, NY

Take the N, Q to Astoria Boulevard. Walk about 10 blocks northwest.


Junior’s: Deep in the tourist trap

No, this review is not about the Junior’s on Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn. We tried the Junior’s in Times Square, fitted with ample outdoor/indoor seating that is constantly filled.

Why would a New Yorker go to such a place? I’m almost certain we were the only non-tourists in our section, if not the entire restaurant.

Well, there’s the famed cheesecake. Then, there are the steakburgers. And there’s something called Something Different which piqued our interest. So, Junior’s on a Friday night during pre-dinner-eating-time it was. We thought we’d try a nearby bar afterward but were too stuffed to move, let alone imbibe.

After waiting for about five minutes for our table, we sat down. Our waiter ambled up to us about five minutes later, when we were both ready to provide drink and dinner orders. (Stellas for each, which came with a water glass, not a stein or beer glass. Tourists are indiscriminate, I suppose.)

junior's steakburger

junior's steakburger

It seemed like less than 10 minutes had gone by before our food came out.

I ordered the steakburger with cheese, which was melted onto the lower half of the bun. It was accompanied by raw onion, lettuce, tomato, and mayonnaise, my favorite burger condiment. On the side, they served me steak fries and “crazy” doughy onion rings, which were extremely filling. The burger itself was fantastic. I highly recommend it. The meat was moist and grilled to perfection. The mayo nicely accented the char of the burger’s exterior. I was in heaven. (And violated my one-burger-per-week rule–it was worth it. I’ll lay off the burgers next week.)

something different at junior's

something different

My dining partner ordered Something Different, a potato-pancake-and-brisket sandwich with Au Jus and applesauce on the side. The potato pancakes were dense and delightful, warmly paired with the flavorful brisket, the highlight of the dish. The brisket was thinly sliced and evenly cooked–just the way it should be. I didn’t try the applesauce but MDP seemed to enjoy it.

Any meal at Junior’s could not be complete without having a slice of their famous cheesecake. The menu listed several selections to choose from, fresh strawberries with cheese pie among them. What exactly is cheese pie? Is this a flatter, less dense version of cheesecake? I don’t want to know.

We opted for the cheesecake with cherries–a classic. It was creamy and decadent, and perfect.

junior's cherry cheesecake

junior's cherry cheesecake

Next to Junior’s restaurant is a Junior’s bakery where patrons can eat-in or take-out pieces of cheesecake. You might want to try this if the restaurant feels too overwhelming.

 

 

 

Junior’s (Times Square)

West 45th Street between 8th Avenue and Broadway

New York, NY

New blog: yelp: Reviewed

I decided to start a new blog, yelp: Reviewed. Don’t worry, I won’t neglect Taylor’s Ham. (I know, you’re worried.)

I’m fascinated by Yelp. It’s one of the worst websites on the Internet, in my opinion. Whenever I listen to Yelpers’ recommendations, I am sorely disappointed. Thus, yelp: Reviewed came to fruition. On yelp: Reviewed, I blog about the most inane, unhelpful, silly, or otherwise hilarious reviews I come across on Yelp.

I hope you enjoy it.

Milk Burger::Burger, Fries, Shake

A long white banquette lines the south wall of Milk Burger. Directly opposite is a bar where a garrulous middle-aged woman sat, chatting the night away with the bartender-cum-waitress. (Tits and ass–theirs–was the topic.) Two other patrons sat at the bar, chomping on Milk Burgers. The place was quiet…except for the blaring infectious ’80s rock over the restaurant’s loudspeakers.

Milk Burger and Portobello Burger

Milk Burger and Portobello Burger

I ordered a Milk Burger, cooked medium (though it was more rare than I would have liked). She ordered a portobello mushroom “burger” with Muenster and cheddar cheeses, just like the Shake Shack. I thought, what the hell, I’ll get a shake while I’m here, so I opted for the black-and-white. We also got sweet potato fries, drizzled with truffle oil.

Milk Burger Sweet Potato Fries

Sweet Potato Fries

I have to say, the burger was pretty good. Sandwiched between a Martin’s potato roll, the meat was just greasy enough to strike a fine balance with the Milk Sauce, which tasted mustardy. The portobello burger was grilled, not deep fried as the Shake Shack does. She said she preferred it this way, but found the sandwich to be particularly drippy. (“I’m sorry,” she said, as she wiped mushroom juice from her forearm.) The fries tasted crisp and sweet, and the truffle oil was definitely a nice touch. The black-and-white shake was creamy, dense, delicious.

The owner came over to our table to ask how our dining experience was.

“How did you hear about Milk Burger?” he asked.

“Oh, on the Internet,” I said.

“Good or bad things?”

“Yes,” I mustered, as I thought only that you’ve copied the Shake Shack’s concept through and through.

“It’s funny, Danny didn’t come down real hard on us over the ‘Shake Shack clone’ business.”

“That is funny,” I said.

“He said as long as we remove the similarities, he’s okay with it. We’re actually opening a few other Milk Burgers in the city.”

“That’s great. Thanks. This was excellent.”

“I’m glad you enjoyed it.”

End of conversation.

“Hold on, remove the similarities…have they removed the similarities?” asked Shion.

You be the judge.

Milk Burger menu

Milk Burger Menu

Overall, I’d recommend Milk Burger to anyone who happens to be around 2nd Avenue and 106th Street. It’s not worth the trek if you’re, say, on the Lower East Side. But! If Milk Burger opens in your neighborhood, you should check it out.

Milk Burger

2056 Second Avenue

New York, NY

Take the 6 to 103rd Street. Walk to 105th Street turn right, walk to Second Avenue.