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Valverde on Steinway/36th Ave--great

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procrastinatrix Jun 2, 2007 08:21 PM

Valverde
corner of Steinway & 36th Ave.

It's only been there for a few weeks and it's a really good addition to Astoria/LIC. For brunch this morning: deliciously creamy scrambled eggs over toasted brioche, topped by a layer of shaved parmesan and served with a spring green salad. Brunch, which is only $10, also came with an appetizer of toasted challah bread with strawberry-infused butter, coffee, and fresh-squeezed orange juice. They bake their bread in house and it's really good, and they use all local ingredients in everything. Also had dinner there a few weeks ago and that was great too, mainly mediterranean--fresh pasta with assorted shellfish, sunchoke salad, and the veal are all highly recommended. Until they get their liquor license it's still BYO. The owners/servers are also EXTREMELY nice and accomodating. Definitely worth a visit or seven.

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    rachelpink RE: procrastinatrix Jun 3, 2007 06:21 AM

    I'm right across the street from Valverde and I agree--it's a fantastic addition to the neighborhood. I've only been for brunch, and I had the same scrambled egg dish. Those eggs are out of control good. I've bought bread on the way home from work a few times, and the owner mentioned that they'll be selling fresh pasta at some point.

    2 Replies
    1. re: rachelpink
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      Mike V RE: rachelpink Jun 3, 2007 11:54 AM

      Great prices. Lunch - Linguine with seafood with choice of salad or soup for $7.95. All I could see was 4 tables for 2. Nice menu. I plan to stop by this week for lunch.

      1. re: Mike V
        janie RE: Mike V Jun 3, 2007 05:47 PM

        I asked about this place several days ago...and was inquiring if anyone had a phone# for them or a menu as I couldn't find a local listing..thanks.

    2. t
      Tikilicious RE: procrastinatrix Jun 3, 2007 07:52 PM

      Hmmm... I had a somewhat different experience. First off, the good news: The service here is absolutely top notch. I had the feeling that the waiter was obsessed with making sure that everything was making us absurdly happy. I felt as if he was going to do back-flips at any moment if he thought that it might please us even slightly. And the cook behind the counter kept asking us if we were pleased, as well. "Isn't it good? Don't you love it? Its great, right?"
      Well... no. At least, we didn't particularly think so. When we first arrived, the waiter ran outside before we even finished walking in, just to tell us that the bread was out of this world, baked daily and absolutely heavenly. We walked in and were brought the "strawberry-infused butter", something I was really excited to try. I felt so deflated to discover that it was nothing more than a small slab of butter with the teeniest drizzle of some strawberry syrup on top, and a sliver of strawberry about the size of my thumb nail. I suppose I was expecting something that was actually "infused", silly me. And it would have been simple to do, too. Melt the butter slightly, stir in some strawberry syrup and small chunks of berries, pour it into a mold and pop it back in the fridge? I mean, why not? How hard is that? Fine. Onto the bread. Not even slightly crusty, and much like eating cake. I was happy with that at first, convinced that the bread that was to arrive with my meal would be a different experience to enjoy. However, I was crushed when my eggs on the toasted brioche was hardly toasted. I displayed my brioche to my counterpart, who agreed that he could find no toasted crunch to it. It was as soft and cake-like as the bread we had already been served. The eggs were fluffy indeed, and the texture was in fact heavenly. I could never disagree with that fact. But where was the flavor? I added salt. I begged for hot sauce. I pouted as I tried to add some of that "strawberry-infused" butter to it, wondering if that would help. Not even the parmesan cheese on top was enough to give me more than a tinge of flavor. I wondered if perhaps I was missing something, so I slid my plate across the table to allow my partner in crime to take a few bites. He sighed and shrugged, and said that while the eggs were beautifully fluffy, he was bored with the lack of flavor and the untoasted toast. I noticed that a couple sitting at the table beside ours both got the same dish, and I overheard the 20-something male ask his gal, "So, what do you think?" She shrugged and said "Its ok."
      Exactly. I felt as if the food wasnt TERRIBLE... it was just... OK. It was edible, it was... nice, I suppose. But it wasn't great, by any means. It was just OK. And I wasn't looking for OK. I was looking for out-of-this-world-delicious. But they are a very young business, and still learning. At least they have the personality to draw people in, and they are eager to please. Perhaps they will figure out how soon enough. However, I don't feel a need to go back. At least not any time soon. I think I will give them some time to work out the bugs, and I will stick to places in Queens which have a lot more flavor and OOMPH! in their dishes.

      1. hatless RE: procrastinatrix Jun 3, 2007 08:29 PM

        Call me another naysayer. We went for brunch. The scrambled eggs on brioche.. yep, nice fluffy eggs, atop bread virtually identical to the focaccia-like bread that came out with that "strawberry infused" butter except it was round. It came with a side of fruit salad, same as any corner grocery: seedless red grapes, a sliced up strawberry or two, some cantaloupe.. all decent quality but not local unless they've started growing pineapples and kiwi in Connecticut this year. Some nondescript eastern potatoes, some field greens, fine, same as everywhere else.

        Coffee came from a thermos pump bottle next to a Mr. Coffee and was fine such as it was. Okay by me because I'm not too picky about my coffee and anyway it was a $10 brunch. I don't expect freshly-roasted beans predigested by a civet or anything. The espresso maker in the corner might be reserved for dinner. The orange juice was obviously fresh-squeezed and yummy.

        I opted for one of the pastas, spaghetti bolognese. The pasta was cooked fine, al dente. The red sauce it was topped with involved veal and some butter. Not much flavor, no integration. It was fine, not bad, but reminded me of what you get from those while-u-wait pasta stations in midtown where you walk up with your tray, pick a pasta and sauce and some guy puts marinara and some mixins in a pan, tosses them with some pasta puts it in a bowl.

        The list of panini looked unimaginative; the owners should take a field trip five blocks north to Il Bambino and grab one of their takeout menus for some ideas.

        Maybe they try harder at dinner, maybe they're taking shortcuts while they try to find some better suppliers, but on the basis of what we had, either their vision (and hype about local ingredients, etc on their windows) exceed their skillz or, though I hate to think it, maybe they're just trying to give the area's Williamsburg refugees some of the pretension they're homesick for.

        3 Replies
        1. re: hatless
          hatless RE: hatless Jun 4, 2007 05:00 AM

          You know, I went to bed, slept on it, and I think I know what bugged me about a meal that wasn't anything terrible. It was the HUGE disconnect between their self-promotion and the reality. We wandered up, took a peek inside, looked at the menu in the window and someone came out and didn't just say "Come in! It's yummy"! No, he went on in the vein of the decals on the window and the menu about the breads all made in-house, the pastas made from scratch, everything made from scratch with local ingredients, it's all wonderful, and so on.

          We sat down and got the menus and it didn't stop... we make all the breads here, here is the strawberry-infused butter, local producers, made from scratch, every step of the way. In response I asked if they made the pastas too, and the cheerful answer was "No, not yet. We are using 'paste secco', and it's really excellent",.. and what we got reminded me of the cafe in a tourist hotel in Prague or Denver, the kind where the only customers are people staying at the hotel, and it's all right, but c'mon.

          1. re: hatless
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            quentinC RE: hatless Jun 4, 2007 05:46 AM

            Don't you think you are all a little tough on this place? It only has room for 12, just opened 2 weeks ago. The sentiment is dead on, they're making their own bread. The waiter is one of the owners. We went yesterday as well. Agreed about the butter in strawberries, but my pasta was good, the ingredients were of good quality. I had the pasta with prosciutto and radicchio, very nice, maybe a touch too much cream. My partner had a panino with tuna- was fine, possibly needed some more olive oil. The tuna was good quality, as was the bread it was served on. We asked for a couple salads to start, and were given a very nice arugula salad with tomato, and shaved parmesan lightly dressed, very fresh. finished with two espressos. pretty damn good for 26.00. Will not change the way you think about food forever, but cut them a break! I'll take it over the alleged Panera bread chain that is purported to be opening nearby.

            1. re: quentinC
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              dansoulcrusher RE: quentinC Jun 4, 2007 08:41 AM

              I've eaten here a couple of times. Brunch and Dinner. I had a great experience both times. Great food, prices, eager to please owners. I had those same eggs, fresh bread, coffee, fresh squeezed OJ, and they all worked for me. Light, fluffy,--perfect eggs. The owners are just proud of all the hard work they put into the place, yes they go into detail about the fresh bread, etc. but I think they back it up. Great addition to the neighborhood.

        2. y
          Yuzu Squeeze RE: procrastinatrix Jun 9, 2007 07:28 PM

          After reading reviews of Valverde here and on another board, we went tonight and had a great meal. (We only live four blocks away so it would truly be criminal not to try the place and we really really want to encourage new promising restaurants in the neighborhood!)

          The owners were very very friendly, happy to answer questions, and quite knowledgeable. They know their food! It's still BYOB/W, but the liquor license is being processed. We had the grilled branzino and highly recommend it. We lived in Japan for four years and have not been thrilled with fish in New York for the most part. This fish was amazing. We also shared the fettuccine with prosciutto and radicchio in a cream sauce... also delicious - the sweetness of the radicchio was brought out by the preparation. Although we didn't possibly think we could eat another bite, we had the homemade ricotta cheesecake for dessert and it was light and yummy with a hint of lemon. Our only complaint would be that the absolutely delicious homemade bread served with the meal was a little on the sweet side.

          I have to say that I'm a bit appalled by the negative reviewers - this is a small, intimate restaurant with room for twelve as someone else mentioned and very good pricing for the quality. They're just starting out, eager to make their first restaurant a go, and they are far better than a restaurant in "a tourist hotel in Prague or Denver." I think I would have died and gone to heaven if I had ever found a hotel restaurant this good in my numerous drives across the country (granted I wasn't in Prague or Denver). To be fair, the complaints seem to be about brunch and we were eating dinner.

          After speaking with the owners tonight, I think their vision currently exceeds their funds, not their skills. The food we were served tonight was excellent, and that's by Manhattan or San Francisco standards. I, for one, am hoping they do well enough to see some of their plans come to fruition. I'll definitely be back for dinner, with friends, and am looking forward to trying the brunch - the prices for brunch are unbeatable. And as a local, neighborhood restaurant, it really can't be beat.

          1. i
            irishnyc RE: procrastinatrix Jun 9, 2007 07:43 PM

            "All" local ingredients? Now, I'm a 4th generation Astorian-- my grandmother was born here when most of the area was still farmland, so I know a lot of history on the area, but I don't think coffee kiwi, pineapple, and oranges were ever local. Local sunchokes? I know some of the farmers on the east end had them two years ago. Local veal? Local butter? Yes, many of these things can be gotten from small farms on the east end, and upstate, but i can't imagine that they're getting them at such great prices that they can charge so little for brunch.

            6 Replies
            1. re: irishnyc
              janie RE: irishnyc Jun 10, 2007 07:31 AM

              I've asked several times for a phone # or menu as I can't locate online..anyone out there can take a moment and post it for me...also, is it baby friendly, any high chair or room for stroller?

              1. re: janie
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                quentinC RE: janie Jun 10, 2007 08:41 AM

                I dont think either are immediately available-- not online anyhow

                the space is small,-- no high chair I would bet, but the guys are so damn accomodating, theyd prob do everything short of buying you one to make you and your young one comfortable....

                1. re: quentinC
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                  kalhel RE: quentinC Jun 10, 2007 09:48 AM

                  Well, I'm one of the lucky ones with a take out menu. Their phone is 7187862070 and they are on 36th Avenue and Steinway.
                  About the local farmers & local products... Wholefoods have oranges for sale don't they? I'm sure kiwis are not local. But if they cook with local products they will be serving bok choy all day. I have tried the "rucola" salad AKA arugula-- if anybody order that salad -only- then thou shall taste fresh food. I had lunch there and their food is really good.
                  One more thing, that comment about that hotel in Denver or Prage sounds bitter and totally unfair.

                  1. re: kalhel
                    janie RE: kalhel Jun 10, 2007 05:25 PM

                    Thank you..I'll give them a call and ask if a baby is welcome there, and when their off hour is..thanks...want to try it when I go to Costco in LIC...

              2. re: irishnyc
                Astoria Lurker RE: irishnyc Jun 10, 2007 10:53 AM

                FYI Sunchokes (aka Jerusalem Artichokes) are a plant native to Northeastern North America, and were cultivated by the Native Americans for hundreds of years before the Europeans arrived. While I agree the claim of "all" local ingredients is silly, it certainly is possible (if not practical) for a large majority of items.

                1. re: Astoria Lurker
                  j0cy0223 RE: Astoria Lurker Aug 12, 2007 07:23 PM

                  My friends and I tried this place courtesy of Chowhound and loved it! It's a nice place to eat on a Saturday morning. Their orange juice is fresh squeezed. I had a salad with Portobello Mushroom & Spinach, which was great. Portion was a bit small though. My friends got the Chef's Omelet - and they loved it!

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                rebeccadahling RE: procrastinatrix Aug 27, 2007 02:21 PM

                My boyfriend and I planned a double date here (A FABULOUS place to go before seeing a movie next door!) after chowhound endorsements and were pleased as punch. We were the only people in the restaurant and the service was impecceble, not intrusive.

                For appetizers we had buffalo mozz with tomatos. While the mozzarella was melt in your mouth I was a bit dissapointed with the quality of the tomatoes considering its peak tomato season. Hard and meeley. And no basil or other additions to this standard app. The tuna tar tar was MUCH better. They use wild tuna (not corn fed farm raised) and the mixture of tuna, orange, avocado and whatever else made for an almost ceviche although still on the side of the tar tar.

                For main courses I had the lamb special. Well seasoned, cooked perfectly. The other people in our group had the spaghetti bolonese (a great take...not too much like a tomato sauce with meat in it...I will have to have my own portion the next time I go) and the penne with homeade marinara. For such a simple dish I couldn't help but continue to steal bites from my boyfriend's plate.

                We were too stuffed for dessert and a little tipsy on the magnum of wine we brought. I highly reccomend this neighborhood spot. Its quite affordable, fun, and wonderful food thats different from many of the other offerings in the Steinway area.

                1. k
                  kcummings RE: procrastinatrix Nov 26, 2007 08:05 AM

                  My husband and I discovered Valverde after going the movies at Kaufman Astoria one evening over the summer. We love it - I can't say enough good things about it. We go there several times a month for dinner (it's a great date night - dinner and a movie) and have never been disappointed. The Spinach Ravioli in sage butter sauce is very rich and delicious. I've had a lamb special, the salmon and several of the salads. I liked it so much that I hired them to cater a birthday party and a fundraiser. They served paninis at both and everyone raved about the food. In addition, they have an excellent selection of Italian wines at reasonable prices. (Many by the glass.) If you haven't been in a while, I would give it another try.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: kcummings
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                    Mike V RE: kcummings Nov 30, 2007 12:08 PM

                    I finally made it to Valverde for lunch. I had the Tuscan Soup and the pasta with shrimp and calamari with a fresh made tomato sauce. Both were served with fabulous bread grilled & cold. An incredibly delicious lunch for a mere $7.95. If I lived closer, I would be at this great eatery every other day. Staff is so pleasant. You could spend $7.95 at a fast food restaurant.

                    1. re: Mike V
                      janie RE: Mike V Nov 30, 2007 05:33 PM

                      is there a menu online somewhere for them?

                      1. re: janie
                        m
                        Mike V RE: janie Dec 1, 2007 03:50 AM

                        Janie: No Menu Online.

                        1. re: janie
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                          Rover RE: janie Dec 15, 2007 11:21 AM

                          Here's the scanned menu on Flickr (several different pages):
                          http://flickr.com/photos/snoodette/15...

                    2. StephNYC RE: procrastinatrix Dec 9, 2007 05:39 PM

                      Just browsing on restaurants and after seeing the initial harsh comments felt there needed to be additional pushback in defense of the restaurant. My husband and I have been there about four times since the summer and never been disappointed. Most recently, loved the pork chop — the pig was finished on chestnuts, the owner said — and carried that rich flavor.
                      Not just a great value, but friendly service, fresh food. Our local preferred meal out.

                      1. k
                        kkvera RE: procrastinatrix Feb 10, 2008 05:54 PM

                        I live right across the street as well from Valverde and find that its staff and owners are incredibly sweet and completely accomodating. Shockingly so :), the personal service and the fact that they remember your name (i've been there more than a couple of times) makes me feel completely at home. I'm allergic to certain types of tomatoes and the Chef/Sous Chef has altered meals for me just to make sure i enjoy the dish without breaking out in blotches. They have free wifi so i'm at ease taking my laptop and just sitting there with my meal and work. The prices are completely reasonable and dinner is probably my favorite time because "Chef" is just gearing to try something new, the food is fresh and never old. I've also started to recognize some of the other customers who seem to have taken a liking to our "little place" soon it seems there are going to be quite the few regulars. They care about the locale as much as any other restaurant they've actually invited local artists to display their art work and encourage anyone artistic to do the same. Currently they're showing Sara Roizen's work in the shop. I for one hope they stay around for a while.

                        1. f
                          Fairy RE: procrastinatrix Apr 1, 2008 11:15 AM

                          I love this place...the bread, the wine, the specials...the service. Highly recommended for a romantic dinner or for ladies night out....

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: Fairy
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                            Mike V RE: Fairy Apr 1, 2008 11:27 AM

                            I also like Valverde but haven't been in a while. You mentioned wine. I didn't notice wine & beer the last time I visited. Plan to visit very soon.

                            1. re: Fairy
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                              helen19 RE: Fairy Apr 1, 2008 11:50 AM

                              i went on Sunday afternoon, for brunch. i read some things about it being amazing and others about it being just okay.

                              my boyfriend got the fench toast and i got a salad. I wont say anything about the salad, it was good but its also hard to mess up a salad. his french toast though was really good. service on the other hand... ehh. We were the only table in there. When we walked in, we were asked if we wanted coffee, i said no just water and my boyfriend got a coffee. 10 minutes later, still no water, and we were still the only table in there. another table walked in and after asking once more for water, we got it. i dont want to say it was bad, but for having noone in there, could have been better.

                              we enjoyed the food, the decor though, not so much. I would like to try it at night but it doesnt seem like there is anyway that can be romantic. I feel like you can see way too much of the kitchen and the metal thats on the walls (in the kitchen) just kills it for me.

                              I will try it for the food, but as a romantic dinner, not so much.

                              1. re: helen19
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                                Fairy RE: helen19 Apr 2, 2008 07:12 AM

                                Probably with day light you can have a diferent view but you can give another chance for dinner...

                                1. re: Fairy
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                                  Koru RE: Fairy May 14, 2008 05:19 PM

                                  Valverde....
                                  I have been intrigued by this place for a few months but never had the time to stop in. Finally I did (for lunch) and was very pleased with the whole experience. I have been back another time since for brunch which was equally as good if not better than the gnocchi and carpacio we had for lunch. The gnocchi was deliciously flavoured w/eggplant pesto sauce and the salad was fresh with tasty beef. For brunch I had the chef's omelet which was fluffy yet full. Great service, nice guys, great food and even pretty good coffee.......with improvements to come in this dept. in the near future so I've heard. Oh, and the desserts are on point.
                                  I highly recommend it.

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