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Dining perfection in Queens

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Inthemood Apr 17, 2007 11:42 AM

I guess I am going to invoke the trite topic. I am a ferocious researcher, in fact I am intensely mad. I get some idea and I start over-researching (includes investigation on foot, on-line and personal interviews) until I feel like ripping my hair out. The more choices, the more do I want perfection and the harder it gets.
My parents in-law are in town and my husband and I would like to take them out on a Saturday to a pleasant restaurant. It has to be in queens because we want to act like lazy royalty (door-to-door).
I was considering a few choices: London Lennies and Luna Sur on Metropolitan or Christos Steakhouse. Before I was interested in S'Agapo but I was talked out of it. On a Friday night we are dining at Dee's or the German restaurant on Metro. I would like to know how Luna Sur is, perhaps that's a better Italian place because Dee's can get pretty crowded on a Friday night.
These are the requirements for a restaurant:

Cuisine: Seafood, Steakhouse, Italian, America (New or traditional), maybe even greek

Decor: (very important) Elegant decor but not too fancy (Not a diner but not Water's Edge either)

Price: $15-$30 p/plate

Quality: Of course has to be good quality

Location: Queens, preferably with some parking nearby or valet

Atmosphere: Not clubby and not loud

I would greatly appreciate any ideas, suggestions or even stories. Currently my eyes are pulsating with pain from researching on-line so much.

We are leaning towards Lennies, but I was told that on Saturday at 6pm it gets very crowded and loud. I am a little worried about that. I am not crazy about Parkside in corona either. Mood is good, but we won't be in the mood on a Saturday.

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    Inthemood RE: Inthemood Apr 17, 2007 12:06 PM

    Oh, and I came across City Cafe & Piano Bar in LI. They play big band music on Saturdays. It looks interesting.

    http://www.citycafe.biz/

    1. bobjbkln RE: Inthemood Apr 17, 2007 12:06 PM

      Both Trattoria L'Incontro and Piccola Venezia in Astoria meet your criteria, I think and both take (and honor) reservations. Both have valet parking. I think the food in both is better than Parkside.

      1 Reply
      1. re: bobjbkln
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        Inthemood RE: bobjbkln Apr 24, 2007 09:14 AM

        L'Incontro and Piccola Venezia are in the little Manhattan. <<Gasp>> I do plan to go to L'Incontro but perhaps with a different company. Piccola is very nice indeed, but again in the little area by the big brother M. I want to familiarize my parents-in-law (PIL) with the territory surrounding our little cave. Thanks though, those are definitely solid suggestions for a semi-formal gathering.

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        pds8232 RE: Inthemood Apr 18, 2007 10:11 AM

        They DO take reservations at LL now for all size groups and you can request a table in the back on the upper deck..... much quieter there.

        1. eateryrow RE: Inthemood Apr 18, 2007 11:10 AM

          I reviewed Lennies for my blog, eateryrow.blogspot.com. It's very nice inside but hardly "elegant". Also, while there are plenty of people who are dressed nice when they go, there are also a fair number of slobby types who consider sweatpants and baseball caps acceptable for dining out.

          I'd suggest DB Wine Bar & Kitchen on Metropolitan or Q on Ascan and Austin. Luna Sur is pretty good, too, but I haven't been there in a while. I never get a chance to go to Astoria, but if you go, tell us what you thought. Astoria also has the restaurant 718 which I'm dying to try.

          8 Replies
          1. re: eateryrow
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            ceeceee RE: eateryrow Apr 18, 2007 12:25 PM

            i am not CRAZY about london lennie's. i find it just ok...

            and zum stammtisch on mrytle avenue in glendale is really a lot better than chalet alpina.

            i do agree with DB wine bar. really nice spot.

            "Q", in my opinion, is an overpriced sub-par thai place.

            1. re: ceeceee
              eateryrow RE: ceeceee Apr 18, 2007 12:33 PM

              No way. You must have gone on an off day or something. While I'm hardly a regular at Q, I've been there quite a few times and have never thought it was anything but good. It's not traditional Thai, for sure (so if that's what you're looking for, you'll be disappointed), but I really like it.

              1. re: eateryrow
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                ceeceee RE: eateryrow Apr 18, 2007 12:40 PM

                i've been dragged there a few times. it has been a while, yes... but i must have gone about 5 times over 2-3 years ago. i was not impressed at all! yes, definitely not traditional, but i just didn't think worth going to with all the great places in queens. for me, it was just ok...

                1. re: ceeceee
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                  slep RE: ceeceee Apr 18, 2007 03:31 PM

                  London Lennie's food is OK, but eateryrow is correct re: some of the clienteles' attire. Would hate to make a special date there...feels like you're in a strip mall restaurant. If you're loooking for semi-nice in QNS, in addition to L'Incontro and Piccolo Venezia, there's Sapori d'Ischia (surely they'll be impressed by the picture of Bill Clinton near the front door-- or turned off) for darn good southern Italian-- I've never had a bad meal there. Just brace yourself for the bottled water attack.

                  1. re: slep
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                    Inthemood RE: slep Apr 24, 2007 09:18 AM

                    Bill Clinton may arouse some ferocious discussions between my family members, however, great food can extinguish the flames ignited by political views.

                    How is the decor in Sapori? What kind of food?

              2. re: ceeceee
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                Inthemood RE: ceeceee Apr 24, 2007 09:16 AM

                Have to agree with eateryrow, the menu has a creative edge. It's Thai with an extra kick, the kind I do like. And I am very happy with the decor...but not the prices. But good food deserves a good price tag, otherwise it's a little suspicious.

              3. re: eateryrow
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                Inthemood RE: eateryrow Apr 24, 2007 09:10 AM

                Eateryrow, I immensely enjoyed your reviews of both Lennies and DB! Particularly like the comment about the explosive bread.

                My interpretation is that you favor Lennies and would certainly recommend it. My father-in-law is a big seafood lover his wife however isn't. Lennies looked appealing because of the relaxed yet 1920's decor (as you put it) and because they have a large selection of fish and some meat. I am all about flavor and creativity when I go to appease my growling little friend. They are not as imaginative and prefer safe and reliable but tasty food. And I have to share a secret...I am absolutely wild about oysters so this maybe a good chance to slip in a little something extravagant for myself. Ayn Rand would defend me here.

                I definitely like the idea of DB, I really like the place and the food is impressive. Basically we have 2 nights. A Friday night and a Saturday night. Friday late, Saturday around 6:30.

                I would prefer to stick closer to KG (Glendale, Woodhaven). No FH, it's just too chaotic for a pleasant evening. Astoria is a little too west and again a little too hectic. Frankly I don't know when I aged, but I no longer favor loud and overcrowded places with no parking. I don't mind the walk, but to park and then take the train is like challenging my much beloved comfort zone.

                1. re: Inthemood
                  eateryrow RE: Inthemood Apr 29, 2007 09:55 AM

                  Hey Inthemood, I don't hit chowhound as much as I like, but I'm glad you liked my reviews. They're fun to write. Anyway, I do like Lennies despite my criticism, but prefer DB if given the choice. I honestly don't know what restaurants are in Glendale other than the handful at Atlas Park. Of those, I've only been to Orange, which is more of a fancy sandwich bar-slash-lounge. However, they changed management, so who knows what they're like now?

                  I hope you had a good time with your folks wherever you picked. And if it's any good, maybe I'll try heading over there one of these days (weeks... months...).

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                Inthemood RE: Inthemood Apr 24, 2007 09:57 AM

                Ok...so here are the nominees, please help me decide by casting your votes.

                London Lennies
                Luna Sur
                Dee's
                DB
                Zum Stammtisch (Glendale)
                Sapori d'Ischia

                Pasticcio at Atlas Park (how is this one anyone tried?) Can this one be considered for a meal?

                Ok, we have two nights, which two would you suggest?

                And thanks to everyone for the wonderful suggestions.

                Did anyone try the restaurant on Metropolitan by 80th rd, it starts with a V, I can never remember the name. It looks like something out of Middle Ages.

                I find Atlas Park charming, at least when I was there in December, has it changed?

                7 Replies
                1. re: Inthemood
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                  Inthemood RE: Inthemood Apr 24, 2007 10:05 AM

                  And if anyone has any other suggestions for good italian fare with a decent selection of seafood NOT in astoria or FH, I am always interested.

                  1. re: Inthemood
                    janie RE: Inthemood Apr 24, 2007 09:50 PM

                    well...I really love La Tavernetta in Glendale, but it's a tiny place, but cute..very intimate...the food is really terrific, and prices are very reasonable...you could make a reservation for saturday, and I'm sure they would accomodate you..Italian, fresh pastas, and chicken, veal, steak, and seafood entrees.......sounds like the DB might be the best bet for you---easy parking on side streets....

                    1. re: Inthemood
                      janie RE: Inthemood Apr 24, 2007 09:53 PM

                      oh, meant to also mention that I'm not really a fan of Saporio D'ishia...any place that won't serve me water, and insists on selling you bottled water isn't my kinda place..snooty pretentious service, and overrated food in my opinion...overpriced and oversauced............wouldn't reccomend...

                      1. re: janie
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                        Inthemood RE: janie Apr 30, 2007 12:53 PM

                        Well, I can conclude this topic because we have already chosen and dined to our satisfaction. The chosen restaurants were:

                        London Lennies on Friday
                        Mood on Saturday afternoon for lunch
                        Luna Sur on Saturday
                        Luncheonette (FH) on Sunday morning

                        These are my evaluations of the restaurants.

                        London Lennies. I really liked it, so did my parents in law, my husband thought it was rather loud. It was pretty crowded and there was a lot of chatter in the air. However, all of us unanimously agreed that the food was terrific. They served a variety of scotch which kept my husband and his family very happy, I ordered a Riesling.

                        I had Kusshi (WA) oysters and some other variety I can't remember. Both were extremely fresh. I enjoyed the buttery flavor of Kusshi, but I am also biased because I guess I am obsessed with Kumamoto oysters. The calamari was nice and crisp, the salad with the champagne vinaigrette was very flavorful, but I thought could have been more fresh.

                        Also, I agree with something which was mentioned in the eateryrow's review of the place, the New England chowder was yummy but it definitely had more potatoes than clams. It didn't matter I was still occasionally steeling sips.

                        For the maid course we had:
                        Macadamia Nut Crusted Florida Grouper with a pineapple sambal, crispy sweet potato match stick fries & yuzu broth

                        Broiled Seafood Platter with fluke, scrod, shrimp & scallops

                        Housemade Maryland Crabcakes with herb mayonnaise

                        Lobster tail

                        Everything was extremely succulent. The grouper had a nice zany flavor to it, with a semi-sweet crisp to it complemented by the citrusy pineapple. I loved it. The broiled platter was very fresh, and even though it had a minimal trace of sauce, the flavor of the fish was more that satisfactory. The crabcakes were outstanding, big fluffy lumps of crabmeat, full of flavor. What impressed me most is that none of the fish dishes were tough, rubbery or chewy, they were all tender and fresh, when it comes to seafood that's the most important factor. To sum it up, we were very very happy. We'll definitely return.

                        DB didn't happen. They gave our table away since we were 10 minutes late and it turned some people off, so we went to Luna Sur instead. It got crowded and loud afterwards but the food was good. The steak special with portabella mushrooms was a winner with everyone. Very juicy and flavorful cuts of meat in port wine grilled to perfection, with some roasted potatoes. I hope it becomes a permanent item on their menu. Gnocchi was pretty bad, but I am comparing to the perfect gnocchi in Italy, I haven't encountered anything that compares. Mostly the way it's prepared in the majority restaurants is very unsatisfactory. The dumplings are very mushy and doughy swimming in a cheese sauce. I am still looking for that perfect plate of gnocchi. Calamari was crispy and tender, the mussels and clams in a tomato broth were excellent and again tender, my tuna tartar was fresh but there was some ingredient or spice I didn't care for. Their snapper with olives and tomatoes was very ordinary and could have been easily prepared at home with better results. My spaghetti with clams in white wine sauce was al dente, I like it cooked just a little more, but overall very good. We'll definitely return to try some more dishes. The prices are also very reasonable. So for those of you who want to visit Luna, I would highly recommend the filet mignon with portabella mushrooms if available, guaranteed to please your taste buds.

                        1. re: janie
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                          Inthemood RE: janie Apr 30, 2007 12:57 PM

                          Thank you so much for all of your suggestions, I will certainly visit La Tavernetta to compare it with Luna. And DB is still on my list, too bad it didn't happen.

                          1. re: Inthemood
                            janie RE: Inthemood Apr 30, 2007 09:16 PM

                            try their gorgonzola gnocchi...or any other fresh pasta dish...it's a little gem of a place...

                            1. re: janie
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                              MESOHUNGRY RE: janie May 1, 2007 07:31 AM

                              Hey inthemood you need to give Antica on Fresh Pond Road a try. Family owned very good Italian. Small comfortable place. Can get busy on the weekends but they take res. The veal is to die for. Fresh made pasta and the home made tira miso is the lightest I've ever tasted. A real find in Ridgewood.

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