Tag Archives: Sugar Freak

Top five brunch spots in Astoria and LIC

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo via The Queens Kickshaw Facebook page


With jaw-dropping city views and an impressive roster of fun weekend activities and outdoor events, Astoria and Long Island City have become premier summer destinations in the city.

Whether you’re enjoying a concert in Astoria Park, browsing the LIC Flea Market, exploring art at MoMA PS1 or sneaking a peek at some of the area’s amazing open houses, kick off your weekend by fueling up at one of the neighborhoods’ top brunch spots.

LIC Market
21-52 44th Dr., Long Island City
Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

This cozy eatery is part American bistro, part rustic general store, with exposed white brick walls, chalkboard menu and wooden, farmhouse-style bar. The menu at LIC Market is frequently updated according to season and freshness, with much of their produce picked within a day of serving.

Photo courtesy of LIC Market

Photo courtesy of LIC Market

Brunch favorites include the slow roasted duck hash ($14), dirty rice frittata ($12) and buttermilk pancakes ($14) served with homemade berry jam, toasted pumpkin seed butter and maple syrup. For those seeking lighter fare, the ricotta and pignoli salad ($10) is a bounty of fresh arugula, golden raisins, toasted pine nuts, orange slices and roasted shallot vinaigrette. Sip on the traditional mimosa ($8) or a cup of freshly brewed, organic coffee sourced from direct trade micro-lots and roasted in Long Island ($2).

LIC Market is also a purveyor of homemade delights, such as strawberry and black pepper jam, and roasted cashew butter, for sale in little glass jars and cans on its quaint general store shelves.

12-14 31st Ave., Long Island City
Saturday and Sunday from noon to 3 p.m.

Photo courtesy of Bear

This LIC restaurant and bar was founded back in 2011 by Executive Chef and Owner Natasha Pogrebinsky, who blends culinary traditions from the family’s native Kiev, along with Ukrainian and traditional French cuisine, to create flavorful, innovative dishes.

The dill poached potatoes ($5) and beet salad ($5) reflect Pogrebinsky’s Eastern European roots. A $15 prix-fixe brunch menu offers chicken kiev and waffles, as well as hearty borscht with a side of garlic and egg buns. Summer brunch favorites include the chilled tomato gazpacho ($9), farmer’s market mixed greens ($9) and tomato and onion sunflower salad ($7). All of Bear’s produce is locally sourced from farms in New York and New Jersey, as well as handpicked by Chef Pogrebinsky on weekly trips to the Union Square Farmers Market.

Unlike traditional brunch libations, the bloody mary at Bear is a feast for the eyes and palette, complete with a slice of candied bacon, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, jumbo celery stalk, pickles, and hard-boiled egg and olive skewer ($9).

The Queens Kickshaw
40-17 Broadway, Astoria
Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 4:45 p.m.

Photo via The Queens Kickshaw Facebook page

Photo via The Queens Kickshaw Facebook page

This specialty coffee shop and cider bar serves up delicious, flavorful brunch fare on weekends and special holidays. The Kickshaw’s ranchers’ eggs ($14) is a zesty mix of jalapeño cornbread, guacamole, pico de gallo and sunny side up eggs. Hungry Astorians in the mood to indulge would love the mac ‘n’ cheese ($12.50), a hearty blend of Gruyère, smoked mozzarella, French beans and caramelized onions.

The kitchen sink salad ($12.50) combines a colorful mix of mesclun greens, roasted red and golden beets, and sunchokes topped with blue cheese dressing. The decadent Mast Bros. Mocha ($5) or hot chocolate ($4.50) provides a sweet finish to this brunch outing. Espresso soda ($3.25) and cold-brewed iced coffee ($3.50) are refreshing options for warm summer mornings.

Sugar Freak
36-18 30th Ave., Astoria
Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Midnight brunch: Friday and Saturday from noon to 3 a.m.

Photo via Sugar Freak Facebook page

Photo via Sugar Freak Facebook page

Astoria hot spot Sugar Freak specializes in festive, flavorful New Orleans fare served in a relaxed, homespun atmosphere.

Its brunch beignet sliders ($2 to $8) are a delightful mix of scrambled eggs with praline bacon and pimento cheese. The Sugar Freak breakfast ($14) is a generous platter of three eggs (any style) with homemade boudin sausage and grits in gravy with a biscuit. Waffle varieties range from sweet potato and cornbread to spicy Cajun-filled ($8) and are topped with your choice of specialty sauces, including bananas foster, chili honey, sweet and spicy condensed milk or raspberry (+ $3), oxtail grits ($15-18), chicken fried steak ($16) and the holy trinity ($16), a trifecta of fried oysters, shrimp and catfish, offer a unique spin on traditional brunch dishes. Pair them with the herb-infused green bloody mary ($10) or Creole lady marmalade, a potent gin martini with marmalade, orange liqueur and lemon.

Night owls who wish to indulge in brunch are in luck, as Sugar Freak offers a special midnight brunch to hungry late night crowds every Friday and Saturday from noon to 3 a.m.

34-55 32nd St., Astoria
Saturday and Sunday 11 a.m  to 4 p.m.
Monday from noon to midnight

Photo via Snowdonia Facebook page

Photo via Snowdonia Facebook page

This cozy gastro pub is known for serving up Welsh-inspired dishes two short blocks away from the famous Kaufman Astoria Studios and Museum of the Moving Image.

Snowdonia’s small brunch plates, or “platiau bach ac oer,” include the laverbread and bacon ($6), a welsh bread made from fresh “laver” or seaweed, lemon zest and oatmeal with bacon. The traditional Welsh rarebit ($9) is a rich, melted three cheese blend served on toasted baguette. Brunch entrees include shepherd’s pie ($16), leek bacon and egg pie ($12), brisket and eggs ($15), and the half English breakfast ($15) featuring two eggs any style with vegetarian baked beans, welsh banger and chorizo sausages. The sticky toffee bread pudding ($7) and bourbon brownie ($7) are sweet compliments to the savory fare.

In addition to an extensive menu of craft beer and cider, Snowdonia also features specialty cocktails like the Welsh 75 ($11), a blend of New Amsterdam gin, muddled raspberry, ginger cordial, mint and champagne float. Snowdonia’s brunch dishes are also available all day on Mondays, providing a great start to any week.


The top five outdoor eateries along Astoria’s 30th Avenue

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Butcher Bar


30th Avenue in Astoria is one of the hottest strips for dining and nightlife in Queens. With summer in full swing, check out our picks for the top five outdoor eateries for dining al fresco in the heart of the neighborhood.

Butcher Bar
37-10 30th Ave.

This purveyor of grass-fed, organic grain finished beef is part old-school butcher shop, part BBQ smokehouse vending high-quality cuts of meat, such as antibiotic- and hormone-free organic chicken, heritage pork, beef and traditional meat products. Hungry patrons can opt to purchase meat to cook at home, or they can stay and dine in Butcher Bar’s backyard garden complete with long, family-style wooden picnic tables, bold red canvas umbrellas and strings of cozy Edison lightbulb lanterns.

Photo courtesy of the Facebook page of Butcher Bar

Photo via Butcher Bar Facebook page

Dishes like the saucy yet sweet “meat candy” beef burnt ends ($13.50), half-baked mac and cheese ($10.99) Philly cheese brisket ($13.50) and tender St. Louis-style house smoked dry rubbed ribs ($19.99 half rack; $34.99 full) have earned Butcher Bar notoriety and a cult-like following. Stars of the new summertime bottomless brunch are the candied bacon and the smoked brisket hash with country gravy. Butcher Bar’s expertly prepared meats can also be found outdoors at the LIC Flea every Saturday and Sunday until the end of October.

Grand Café
37-01 30th Ave.

Photo courtesy of Grand Cafe

Photo courtesy of Grand Cafe

Sunlight and summer breezes waft into Grand Café’s exotic appointed dining room through large glass doors that open out onto ample sidewalk seating. The azure umbrellas, canvas chairs, exotic plants and palms create the feeling of dining outdoors in a quaint seaside resort town along the Aegean Sea without ever having to leave Astoria. Early birds will want to visit this Mediterranean eatery and sample the Cypriot omelette ($7.25), a mix of loukaniko, halloumi and tomato, while sipping the Early Riser ($9), an organic cold pressed juice blend of pineapple, pear, apple and mint. Lunch options include an impressive list of fresh salads, sandwiches, wraps, burgers and savory crepes, as well as an organic Greek yogurt bar. The specially seasoned lamb burger ($13.50), served with spicy feta on a seven-grain roll, is another great pick.

Antika Restaurant and Pizzeria
36-08 30th Ave.

Photo courtesy of the Facebook page of Antika Restaurant and Pizzeria

Photo via Antika Pizzeria’s Facebook page

This Neapolitan-style brick oven pizzeria uses only the finest ingredients to bring the authentic flavor of Naples to Astoria. Patrons can opt to slide into one the red leather banquets that line the exposed brick walls of Antika’s cozy dining room, or they can dine outside at one of six tables beneath the bold red canvas awning for the experience of an Italian piazza on a tree-lined street in Queens. Antika is best known for its old-fashioned, Grandma-style square pizza ($21) made with fresh San Marzano tomatoes and Grana Padano pecorino cheese. The prosciutto pizza dough sandwich ($14), which features prosciutto di Parma, fresh mozzarella and olive oil in a balsamic reduction, is another great choice.

Sugar Freak
36-18 30th Ave.

Photo courtesy of Sugar Freak

If you’re seeking authentic Louisiana-style comfort food in the heart of the city, Sugar Freak delivers. Start out with a bowl of Creole French onion Soup ($9), chili honey-infused hush puppies ($8) or popcorn alligator served with Creole mustard and grape jelly ($12). Sugar Freak’s extensive dinner menu features a delectable roster of New Orleans favorites like po’boys ($10-16), beer can chicken with sweet potato waffles ($17), jambalaya ($15) and crawfish etouffee ($18). Wash down all of this spicy goodness with a libation from their newly updated cocktail list, including the classic hurricane ($8), Creole bloody mary ($8) or swamp juice ($8), a potent blend of vodka, Triple Sec, Blue Curaçao, pineapple and orange juice complete with gummy worm garnish. Sugar Freak’s eclectic mix of antique chandeliers, corrugated tin ceiling and delicately roped-off sidewalk patio complete with cafe chairs and vintage floral linens impart a rustic, homespun vibe that is both inviting and inspired.

William Hallet
36-10 30th Ave.

Photo courtesy of the Facebook page of William Hallet

Photo via William Hallet’s Facebook page

This laid-back, American-style bistro features both weekend brunch and late-night drinks in a cozy, intimate setting. Enjoy a craft beer or weekend brunch favorites like the duck sausage hash ($15) or crab cake benedict ($16) while seated outdoors at one of several cozy café tables. William Hallet’s slow-cooked brisket ($16) served with grilled zucchini hush puppies, deviled egg salad and charmoula is the perfect summertime feast. Classic cocktails are also available. Try the guava lemonade ($10), blueberry smash ($10) or The Outerboro ($11), a flavorful mix of scotch, dry vermouth, grapefruit bitters and Swedish Punsch. Stay up-to-date on William Hallet’s special events here.


Queens restaurants serve up kangaroo, alligator, other exotic meats

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photos by Bradley Hawks

Looking for something new to try?

Even in New York City, adventurous foodies can get bored. But people looking for a taste of the exotic can find plenty of options in Queens.

In Astoria, the Thirsty Koala serves kangaroo burgers, sliders and steaks.

“The wild game meat is extremely lean, resembling a cross between bison and venison,” Queens Courier dining writer Bradley Hawks said after trying the kangaroo dishes. “The steak is best described as a sweeter filet mignon.”

Kangaroo burger 

Moving from marsupials to reptiles, Max Bratwurst und Bier German Restaurant has rattlesnake and alligator on the menu.

“Believe it or not, the [rattlesnake and alligator bratwursts] are very popular, especially among the young crowd,” said Fiori, a manager at the Astoria restaurant.

He described the rattlesnake as tender and flavorful. The serpent is combined with pork to make the bratwurst because rattlesnakes are expensive and have little meat on them.

The alligator bratwurst tastes like chicken, Fiori said.

The restaurant decided to add exotic meats to the menu as a way of standing out from other area eateries.

They wanted to “make a challenge” for their customers, said Fiori, who sometimes hears diners daring each other to try the alligator or rattlesnake bratwurst.

Alligator is also on the menu at Sugar Freak in Astoria.

Its popcorn alligator dish is made by deep frying the meat and serving it with a spicy, tangy grape jelly sauce.

Slightly less adventurous diners who still want to try something new can head to Alobar Restaurant in Long Island City or one of four Bareburger locations in the borough.

Alobar offers familiar meat, but served in an exotic way.

Its Amish pig tails are exactly what the name implies.

“It was one of those approachable items that people aren’t afraid of trying, especially the way we prepare them,” said executive chef Michael Rendine.

The tails, which are six to eight inches long, are deep fried and covered in house barbecue sauce. Rendine said you eat them like ribs or chicken wings.

Originally an everyday menu item, the pig tails are now only served as a Tuesday night special. But Rendine added that people come in and ask for the dish all the time.

Amish pig tails

Bareburger, on the other hand, offers a familiar way of eating meat made from an unusual animal.

In addition to the typical beef and turkey burgers, diners can order ostrich, wild boar, elk and bison on their buns.

Manager Bobby Kumar said customers like the ostrich because it tastes similar to beef, but is lower in cholesterol and 98 percent lean. He added that they enjoy bison and elk, which are also red meats, for the same reasons.

Wild boar is leaner than beef, but has a similar texture to ground pork.

“We’ve become very well known for our exotic meat,” Kumar said. “After some people try it, some people fall in love with it.”