One of Astoria’s best-kept secrets is Stove, where Irish-born chef and owner Declan Cass serves British-inspired dishes – the fish and chips are a textbook rendition – alongside inventive New American cuisine to offer something for everyone.
The narrow, sconce-lit restaurant is just far enough off the beaten path to feel secluded and special, yet within walking distance of Steinway’s thoroughfare. The eatery is just one block from the 46th Street stop on the Q18. Thanks to a recent revamp of the menu, Stove classics like the grilled Angus shell steak with creamy peppercorns and honey-glazed, five-spice ribs are now joined by a mesquite barbecue butter pork loin haystacked with frizzled onions and a trout almondine with beurre noisette. The “Downton Abbey” set will want to stick around for proper English desserts like the sherry trifle and homemade apple pie blanketed with a sweet ribbon of crème anglaise.
“It’s unbelievable how so very many ingredients are combined in such a small dish,” the server proclaimed as she delivered our baked stuffed clams.
She was right. These clams are superb, and as soon as they were gone, I wished we had savored them a little longer. They contain the perfect blend of bread crumbs, minced clams, a hint of clam juice, a whole spring garden of seasonings, garlic and a crown of Irish smoked bacon that is simultaneously smoky, salty, crunchy and tender. You don’t even need the lemon wedge, although the drip of citrus illuminates the flavors just that much more.
“Oh, perfect choices! That makes me so happy!”
Our server smiled and clapped her hands in approval as we turned in the order for our main dishes. How often do you meet a server who not only knows every ingredient in each dish, but seems to genuinely love the food she is serving, investing in it as if it came from her own kitchen.
Everything we tried was, quite simply, outstanding.
The baked shepherd’s pie arrives in a casserole dish the size of a large football. A blend of vegetables including peas and carrots are stewed into gorgeously seasoned minced meat gravy that smells deliciously of Worcestershire. The hearty meat stew is adorned with artful pipings of whipped potatoes like a savory decorated cake, with crispy golden peaks browned while baking in the oven.
The sherry trifle, layered with cherries, pears, pineapple, JELL-O and English custard, was the perfect ending to our proper Irish dinner, and we stumbled out the door with both stomachs and spirits sated.
Although we could not put another morsel in our mouths, we were already planning Sunday brunch to enjoy the corned-beef hash, traditional Irish breakfast and eggs royale.
45-17 28th Avenue, Astoria
Tuesday-Thursday: 4-10 p.m.
Friday and Saturday: 4-11p.m.
Sunday: noon-10 p.m.
BY BRADLEY HAWKS