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is there good food at JFK?

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I will be flying into JFK on dec 23rd around noon and taking off again close to 6pm. I would love to have dinner with a friend from nyc but while she would come out to the airport I'm not sure where I should take her.

I have been browsing through a couple threads on this board convincing me that in essence there is no decent food for me to be had in the near vicinity but nobody mentioned airline lounges, upscale airport restaurants and the likes.

this is one of these questions where money is not really the issue. I owe this person a really nice dinner and even though this would be lunch, I'm all for making it memorable.

so have you been to any of the lounges? emirates, swiss, etc? is there anything and can we get access?

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  1. I believe the only way you can get in the lounges is if you're flying biz or first. If you plan on hitting lounges other than your airline they need to be allied, or you can use an AMEX Platinum or Black. You can check out some lounge menus and pics http://www.airlinemeals.net/, or go to the JFK Website and look up places in all terminals.http://www.panynj.gov/CommutingTravel...

    Happy Mangia

    1. You state that you are landing at the JFK airport on 23 Dec 2007 at 12 Noon and leaving at around 6 PM, hence if your friend has a car, this would give you close to 4.5 hours to drive to quite a large number of the restaurants in Queens/Brooklyn/Nassau for a leisurely lunch and get back to the airport by 5 PM (this is assuming that you are completely checked through to your final destination with your bags checked in), especially when 23 Dec 07 is a Sunday with much less traffic in NYC. Because it would be on a Sunday, although this is during a holiday shopping period that is typically more crowded, there is even a small possibility that you could drive into Manhattan and try one of the restaurants there (there are numerous expensive parking garages available). There would be an endless list of good and excellent restaurants to try in Manhattan.

      If your friend does not have a car, there are still taxis and car services available, although that would be quite expensive, but friendships are priceless are they not?

      If you do not want to be adventurous and risk missing your flight by trying a restaurant in Manhattan, there are also many good restaurants with nice décor in Queens/Brooklyn/Nassau that you could go to within the 4.5 hours duration on a Sunday afternoon. Assuming a worst case of 1 hour each way, this would still leave you 2.5 hours for a leisurely lunch.

      One possibility for a restaurant with nice décor and good Italian food is “Caffe On The Green” in Whitestone, although the prices are on the high side. More information on the restaurant is here: http://www.caffeonthegreen.com/ . The restaurant is nestled at the north end of a public golf course and there are distant Long Island Sound ocean and Whitestone Bridge views from a window seat. Transportation is quite convenient by car with highways directly from JFK airport to “Caffe On The Green” restaurant in Whitestone (Belt Parkway/Van Wyck Expressway or Belt Parkway/Cross Island Parkway; see directions at website for actual local exits). However, on Sundays, the “Caffe” restaurant according to the website, does not open until 2 PM, but this restaurant is still doable, since on a Sunday afternoon, it would typically only take 30 minutes or less to return to the JFK airport from the “Caffe On The Green” (via the Cross Island Parkway/Van Wyck Expressway or the Cross Island Parkway/Belt Parkway).

      Other options are in the nearby neighborhoods around the JFK airport and while they may not be the best restaurants available in NYC, they are probably “head and shoulders” above the typical restaurant in any of the JFK airport terminals in terms of value for your money and obtaining good food. You mentioned that you had searched the boards already, but here is a thread (http://www.chowhound.com/topics/340430) with possible dining possibilities off airport in Howard Beach where we had recommended the “Frenasia” restaurant. The Frenasia restaurant does not have the décor (no table cloths) of the “Caffe On The Green” restaurant, but it is nearby and many of the dishes are decent (FrenAsia, 163-35 Cross Bay Blvd, Howard Beach, NY, Tel: 1-718-322-7690, http://www.frenasia.com/day_new.asp

      )

      Howard Beach also has many “table cloth” Italian restaurants that might be suitable for you during your layover. There are also a number of Italian restaurants in Ozone Park. You had mentioned that you had searched the boards already, but did you happen to perform a search of the Howard Beach and Ozone Park areas for possible restaurants?

      Good luck in finding a nice restaurant for lunch later this month.

      6 Replies
      1. re: lwong

        You have provided a ton of good info for the O.P. but Cafe On The Green would be a terrible choice. Years ago it was decent but once it turned into a catering hall the food went downhill. A decade ago I had more then a few small, family celebration meals, but we stopped going years ago. I wouldn't recommend the place if the O.P was flying through the much closer LaGuardia. There are so many better closer places, particularly in Flushing. I would say Spicy and Tasty or Sentosa would be great choices. Perhaps a stroll down Roosevelt for all the mexican food vendors.

        1. re: stuartlafonda

          Thanks for the update on “Caffe On The Green.” We were last there for lunch about 7 years ago where our “linguine with white clam sauce” was good, hence we should have mentioned that our information was from a long time ago. We knew that the décor was very nice and the OP had mentioned that he wanted to take his friend to a nice restaurant with décor (“I owe this person a really nice dinner,….” “I'm all for making it memorable”). It is too bad to hear that the “Caffe On The Green,” has decided to put all their efforts into the catering end of the business and have taken a “don’t care” attitude toward their regular dine-in restaurant business. Whenever we drive past the restaurant, there is always a wedding reception or other party going on there. The “Caffe” was one of the few restaurants in the Whitestone area that had a very nice décor and also served good food, hence it is a shame to hear that the “Caffe” has gone downhill.

          We didn’t recommend any of the Flushing Chinese restaurants since they lack the décor that the OP was interested in, plus the parking situation in Flushing Chinatown is not the best on a Sunday afternoon. For the same reason, your suggestion of the Mexican food street vendors further down on Roosevelt might not be the best choice either.

          In place of the “Caffe,” is there another place in the Whitestone area where you go now for your family celebratory occasions, where both décor and food are necessary requirements? It would be nice to know another restaurant with both décor and food, if our family ever needs such a restaurant for a celebratory occasion.

          1. re: lwong

            I have family in the Bayside/Whitestone area and when they want to celebrate at a local place and want Italian we do Il Vesuvio. This is the place run by the family that has the "pizzaria" on Bell, this is the new restaurant. Allthough it is not cozy, it is nicely decorated and the food is oustanding.The pasta specials in particular can be great, but everything I have had is top notch. Service can be slow at busy times but I think the place is terrific. Check the archives as there have been a few posts about the place.

            1. re: stuartlafonda

              Thanks for responding with the information about the restaurant Il Vesuvio in Whitestone as a possible celebratory place in the future.

              We happened to try Il Vesuvio when they first opened and had a bad experience there with the attitude of the restaurant. There were issues with two of the dishes that we had ordered. One dish was an appetizer, “Salmon and Tuna Carpaccio,” where we found that the salmon was still partly frozen. Another dish was their special Veal dish (we remember it had bacon in the dish) that contained small fragments of the wax paper used to separate the strips of frozen veal and in their haste in separating the veal portions, they did not notice in the preparation and during the cooking, that there was still wax paper attached to the veal.

              The waiter came to our table and inquired about our appetizer and we advised him that the “Salmon Carpaccio” was still partly frozen. The waiter said that he was sorry to hear that and then just walked away.

              When the manager happened to stop by our table while our party was eating the main entrée and asked if everything was all right, we mentioned to him that we had found fragments of wax paper in the veal dish and also showed him the wax paper fragments. The manager said that was unusual and immediately went into the kitchen to find out what happened. The manager came out shortly, and he said that the wax paper was nothing to worry about and just walked away.

              At the time that we dined there, the restaurant was preparing for a fairly large party of 30 people and this may have caused them to be less than careful in leaving the fragments of the wax paper, since they were busy in preparing for the many dishes for the large party. The dishes, other than the mishaps mentioned, were good and we did not have any issues with the taste of the food, but the casual attitude of the restaurant in not caring that there were issues in the preparation of the food, especially when the restaurant has positioned themselves as a moderate to high-end restaurant by their décor and prices, left us a little disconcerted that they were following in the footsteps of former Defense Secretary Rumsfeld who absolved himself of responsibility when he stated after the Iraq looting, “Stuff happens.” Normally, we would expect that the restaurant would acknowledge the kitchen errors and offer some adjustment or other gestures, but this was not done. Although we had mentioned these issues to the restaurant, we did not request that the dishes be taken back, but felt that after we did mention these issues to the restaurant, that the restaurant would do the “right thing,” without our asking.

              From your comments, we would assume that the attitude of the restaurant has improved and that the mishaps that we had described were opening restaurant jitters and glitches, and that “Il Vesuvio” is much better now.

              1. re: lwong

                Wow, sorry to hear about your bad experience. As I mentioned above, service is not their strong suit, but what happened to you is inexcusable as was the restaurants poor response. I can understand your reluctance to return.You might try Il Toscano in Douglaston or Conti's in Little Neck, two other nice, local Italian restaurants I have enjoyed over the years that are also suitable for a small family celebration.

                1. re: lwong

                  wow- i'd say you had grounds to just walk out. without eating the food, of course.