BY BRADLEY HAWKS
On any given Sunday in Astoria, upwards of 50 guests huddle in the entryway to Queens Comfort near the Big Chief smoker, or perch on swivel stools at the former diner counter. They’re waiting to jigsaw their party into the long communal table, reminiscing while Hulk Hogan battles on WWF reruns, gawking at a young loin-clothed Arnold Schwarzenegger in “Conan the Destroyer,” or quoting the dialogue to “Weird Science”… all projected onto a screen at the back of the dining room.
But far more than just memory-evoking TV and tchotchkes (and morsels), some serious love goes into the cooking and service; it is the sort of place where the whole family pitches in on the recipes and operations.
Owner and cook Donnie D’Alessio opened Queens Comfort almost two years ago, and the menu has been perpetually evolving. “Our style is contrast,” he said. “We like to layer, and we take a lot of care into how people register flavors.”
Recent additions have featured a touch of lighter fare, including the Boomer Burger—a crunchy parmesan-crusted vegetarian mushroom patty with herbed aioli. A crispy fried tofu sandwich arrives glistening with siu hau sauce and a haystack of Asian slaw, next to a roasted beet and goat cheese terrine over mixed greens and white raisins.
The most popular mouthwatering layering of flavors are the signature Cap’n Crunch chicken fingers—substantially plump and juicy tenders dusted with the crushed sweet peanut butter cereal, accompanied by a ramekin of thick caramel sauce studded with bits of smoked bacon and red pepper flakes. The red peppers are home-dried by D’Alessio’s father, a tradition passed down from his grandmother—which are used as a seasoning in several of the dishes and soups.
A rotating “Burger Stand” showcases a stellar take on In-N-Out’s Animal Burger with a dead-ringer of the special sauce and caramelized onions, only on a much thicker and juicier patty; a PB&J Burger with a slab of smoked bacon; and a behemoth Ring of Fire Burger stacked with a fiery inferno of battered bell pepper rings stuffed with fried jalapenos, melted cheddar, and sriracha mayo. Another comes blanketed in dijonnaise, cheddar, and crunchy fried pickle coins. Daily specials range from ancho-chili loaded Frito pies to exotic hot dogs, smoked BBQ and beer cheese soups.
In a neighborhood where brunch is the busiest meal of the week, the BYOB policy creates a vibe of communal party, with store-bought bottles of bubbly and pitchers of orange juice on nearly every table, accompanying the menu offerings of Stumptown coffee, Harney & Sons teas, and seasonal pressed juices, ciders, and berry lemonades. Benedicts abound in every ingredient combination, and omelettes come laced with confits and vintage cheeses. Fried chicken sandwiched between homemade waffles gets doused in hot sauce, syrup, and butter.
Desserts are often the handiwork of D’Alessio’s mom and sister, with sweet concoctions like red velvet bread pudding or double-glazed Trix donuts. So be sure to arrive with a hearty appetite, and perhaps be willing to wait a few minutes for that table, especially on the weekend. Because when it does come, the food is hug-your-ribs comforting, and the kind of stuff worth bragging about to friends for weeks to come.
40-09 30th Ave (one-half block east of Steinway), Astoria
Daily menu posted at queenscomfort.blogspot.com
Tue-Fri Lunch 12-4
Tues-Fri Dinner 6-9:30
Sat & Sun Brunch 10-4
Saturday Dinner 6-10
Closed Sunday Dinner
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