Associating Astoria with quality French food isn’t common, and why would it be? In a neighborhood where Greek, Italian, Middle Eastern and Eastern European cuisine reigns supreme, it’s hard to satisfy a craving for rustic bistro fare. That is…until now. Enter, L’Artiste Restaurant, a quaint, casual bistro, exemplifying sophistication and artistry.
A cheery hodgepodge of modern and traditional elements deck the main dining hall, allowing classic bistro lamps, a modern Eiffel Tower mural, a vintage Singer sewing machine and more to exist in the same space. And though it may seem disjointed at first glance, the eclectic decor works well to illustrate the harmony between the old and new, serving as a preview of what L’Artiste’s menu accomplishes as well.
Sophistication and artistry meshes with comfort and familiarity when it comes to L’Artiste’s food. Beautiful looking amuse bouches (palate-waking/cleansing bites) grace tables in the beginning, middle, and sometimes at the end of a meal, carefully demarking the start or finish of a given course. And though traditionally, amuses consist of simple food that doesn’t make a big statement, at L’Artiste that’s far from the truth. Think delicate pieces of chicken liver, placed on a homemade chip that makes an amazing crunch sound; a perfectly seared scallop on a bed of creamed spinach, topped with a beautifully poached egg; or a silky ricotta soup, amped up with garlic and subtle hints of truffle oil.
Main dishes, most of which are protein based (but which don’t ignore vegetarians), further excite the palate. The juicy, seared duck breast with an earthy side of spaghetti squash is incredibly sexy, served with an orange beurre blanc sauce that gives this dish that extra hint of sophistication. For something traditional with a modern twist, try the roast chicken cordon bleu that boasts wonderfully crispy skin and the cordon bleu part (ham and cheese), which comes on the side as a stuffing.
As in any dependable French eatery, desserts should not be ignored. My personal favorites include a complex, yet light-as-air coffee panna cotta that looks like a gorgeous parfait; a warm, rustic fig tart with a flaky, buttery crust that brings you back to your grandmother’s kitchen; or the classic yet always excellent profiteroles with simple vanilla ice cream and a rich drizzle of semi-sweet chocolate sauce.
L’Artiste’s artful food and atmosphere have proven it a worthy adversary when it comes to French food in Queens. So whether you’re a die-hard Francophile or simply appreciate quality bistro food, you’re destined to fall in love with this place that’s simply, c’est magnifique!
42-20 31st Avenue
Astoria, NY 11102
Hours: Tuesday through Friday, 5 to 11 p.m.
Saturday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Sunday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
All Major Credit Cards Accepted