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Valverde on Steinway/36th Ave--great

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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  1. 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

      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

        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. 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. 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

          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

            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

              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. 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. "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

              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

                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

                  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

                    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

                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

                  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!