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Sep 17, 2007 05:12 PM

My Kitchen in Forest Hills

There are a couple of new restaurants opening this fall on Metropolitan Avenue in Forest Hills: Pampas Argentinas and My Kitchen. My Kitchen opened two weeks ago – it actually is a re-opening of a restaurant that existed on Austin Street and Metropolitan Avenue in the 80s and 90s.

My wife and I were excited to try My Kitchen and were hoping that it would be a nice complement to DB’s Wine Bar down the block. The atmosphere of My Kitchen was initially promising. The dining room is sleek and stylish and a large garden area in the back nearly doubles the restaurant’s square footage. We chose to take advantage of the nice weather and eat outside. The space is lovely, but the lighting was inadequate even for customers seeking a romantic dining experience – we could barely identify the food on our plates, let alone read the menus. The owner apparently recognized these difficulties and promised us that new patio lights would be added.

The menu at My Kitchen is not terribly exciting, but we were enticed by its promise of a tasting menu, consisting of three “tapas” and three accompanying wines for $26. My wife and I are suckers for a good tasting menu – especially one that comes with wine pairings – and this one appeared to be the bargain of the century. We both ordered it enthusiastically, without knowing exactly what we would be served.

What proceeded was a comedy of errors. The first item delivered to our table (after some tasty garlic bread) was the opening glass of wine. The waitress who presented it to us announced that this was “the red wine” that came with the tasting menu. Surprised that the chef would choose to open with a red wine instead of a white, we asked the waitress to identify the wine. We were told only that it was a merlot before the obviously clueless waitress turned tail and ran.

As it turned out, no white wines were served with the tasting menu. While I have no particular objection to a red-only tasting, the first dish, farfalle with a light pesto sauce, was clearly an inappropriate match for the mediocre merlot that was selected to accompany it, and would have been much better suited to a pinot grigio or another crisp, refreshing white.

When the pasta was served, we immediately realized that that the word “tapas” was a misnomer. We were presented with a single entrée-sized plate of pasta for the two of us to share. It was decent. The sauce was light and not over-powering, and the dish was studded with vegetables such a broccoli and olives. Not a stand-out, but not a bad first course either.

The next course was chicken puttanesca served over a bed of linguine. The chicken was tender and the sauce tasty, with just the right amount of capers and spice, but after eating a whole plate of farfalle, we were not exactly ready for another pasta dish. The inclusion of two pastas back to back on a three-course tasting menu demonstrates that little, if any thought was put into the tasting menu as a whole. This impression was confirmed by the service of the second wine – a Shiraz, we were told – after we had nearly finished the second course.

The third course to arrive was pork with apples and plums in balsamic butter sauce. The pork was tasty, but the sauce was greasy and made the dish too heavy. When we asked for the glass of wine intended to accompany this dish, the waitress told us that she had given us extra wine in the first two glasses and that she “thought that would be enough.” When we reminded her that the menu promised a wine to accompany each course, she returned with a cabernet, but by then we had finished the pork dish. I suppose this was just as well since the cab would have been a poor match for the sweet, buttery pork dish anyway.

My Kitchen seems able to execute basic dishes reasonably well, but it should stay away from tasting menus, which require a creative kitchen and a competent wait staff. Both appeared to be lacking when we went. We will probably try My Kitchen again at some point, but will definitely avoid the disappointing tasting menu. If anyone has had a better experience there, please let us know.

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  1. Sadly my experience was a nearly identical comedy of errors. I'm dashing out the house so I will explain in detail later, but we had the very same confusion over the tapas menu.

    1. I was there Sat. the sample menu had a lot of delightful dishes. Started with:

      A large bowl Fresh chopped mushroom soup

      Followed by a large salad with feta and olives and grilled veggies

      Then a bow of muscles marinara

      Then a large portion of lobster\crab ravioli
      Then 3 large chicken breasts in a nice wine sauce with veggies and potatoes
      Followed by 3 different exquisite deserts coffee and tea.

      Its great how can you beat the $22 price?
      and the place is so nice

      1 Reply
      1. re: vinnyvette

        We went there in January 2008 with another couple and woiuld not go back. Sadly, another disappointing FH restaurant experience of a place that seems promising but does not deliver. We were forewarned about the problems with the tapas menu so we chose not to order it, but strangely enough, the waitress kept trying to sell it to us anyway and seemed visibly annoyed that we did not want to order it. Bizarre. Anyway, what followed was a well-priced, decent meal, but nothing we would hurry to go back for. My husband's only comment was, "They need to work on the food more." I agree. I guess we'll go back to eating in Manhattan and Brooklyn. I really would love to like the restaurants here more...

      2. Does anyone know when that Pampas Argentinas Restaurant you mention on Metropolitan opens? I keep passing by it. It looks so nice inside and I've heard a lot of talk about it.

        1 Reply
        1. re: nicolettepess

          Apparently Pampas Argentinas is set to open in November. They had originally announced that they would be open in October, but apparently the start date has been pushed back a bit.

          They have begun to set up their website. It looks promising....