Saturday, July 10, 2010

Queens Tweet

I was invited to a Queens tweet-up last night at Dutch Kills, the bar that mimics its sister and brother bars in the city: Milk and Honey and Little Branch. In keeping with the Prohibition-era theme of these Manhattan bars, Dutch Kills is dark and wooden with mustachioed barkeeps in suspenders. In the bar's rear, the floor is covered in sawdust like the butcher shops I remember from my youth.

Cocktails are slightly less pricey than in the city at ten bucks a pop and you should order one for the aesthetic alone. The bar produces four separate kinds of ice: chunky granules of even shape and size; smooth cubes; one large block for scotches and other brown spirits; and crushed ice for shaking and muddling. My Marie Antoinette resembled a pretty little sno-cone and came topped with a chilly raspberry. The drink itself, in fading shades of red and pink, was a sweet and tart combination of crushed berries, creme de cacao, and light rum. Regrettably, I kept forgetting that Dutch Kills serves its libations with metal spoons and more than once found my teeth clicking against the straw.

As a follow up to our Queens tipple, we headed over to Sweet Afton, which really looks like the type of place you would find in Brooklyn, not Queens. There is exposed brick and all the food and drink is local and the hipsters seem to have invaded from Williamsburg. The Brooklyn vibe doesn't change the fact that Queens is clearly the borough of choice for ethnic food, but it is nice to feel like Astoria is getting some locavore chops. Finally.

The fried pickles are McClure's, of course, and come with a mayonnaise-based dipping sauce. They erred a bit too far on the side of doughy, but I'll take my pickles any way I can get them, which is why I doused my spicy hot pickle bites with a McClure's pickle martini, one of the house cocktails. Next arrived a truly transcendent grilled cheese sandwich. You can choose your cheese and we chose muenster. We also chose to add to our sando caramelized onions and chewy, smoky bacon. The sandwich's strongest asset is the tasty whole-grain mustard and side of pickles (yes, I'm obsessed).

The French fries that came with our perfect burger were an unnecessary addition to an already-full meal. But that burger... mid-sized patty on white bread with lettuce, tomato, red onion, pickle, and cheese. No mayonnaise, but I can live without. The burger had the oniony seasoning I love. I'll be back for the Irish sausage next time: sausages wrapped in puff pastry and baked until brown. Sounds right up my alley.

Dutch Kills
27-24 Jackson Avenue
Long Island City, NY 11101

Sweet Afton
30-09 34th Street
Astoria, NY 11103