Gee whiz, was that like the longest freakin’ winter ever, or what? Seemed like it would never end, didn’t it? Who do we blame for this one? That stupid groundhog? Global warming? Governor Paterson? Anyway, finally a little sunlight and fresh air, but if experience has taught us anything, it’ll all be gone before we know it. So we figured this the perfect time to highlight a couple of places well-versed in the art of dining “al fresco,” probably the nicest words we’ve heard in a long, long while…
HUSH CAFÉ LOUNGE & GARDEN
70-10 Grand Avenue
We really dig the scene at HUSH CAFÉ LOUNGE & GARDEN, but especially this time of year. The same intriguing ambience that goes into those diaphanous orange curtains inside the lounge are the very sensibilities at work outside as well, and the effect is that of an unbelievable oasis of calm, a haven you won’t believe you entered on Grand Avenue. Not only that, but you’ve got some great finger food here – Calamari, Wings, etc. – along with a host of inventive cocktails sure to have you lingering a while. (PS – we really dig their website, too, so make sure you check out www.HushLoungeNYC.com.)
63-98 Woodhaven Boulevard
In an area with a great many of them, WOODHAVEN HOUSE is definitely one of the nicest Irish pubs around – it’s classy, ornate, and so finely appointed inside, you know you’re in a special place the moment you walk in. Consequently, the perfect destination for a birthday, anniversary, or any other such special occasion. But now that the weather’s improving, we’ve really been impressed lately with the configuration of outside seating they’ve got going – as showcased by two rather spiffy fenced enclosures lining the Woodhaven Boulevard and Fleet Court sides of the restaurant. Even if you’re just driving by, you can’t miss the familiar Woodhaven House crest and burgundy backdrop inviting you to drop in. Look, what can we say, but if you’re telling me that I can have the same outstanding Sirloin Burger, the same fantastic Caesar Salad, the same delightful Crab Cakes, and actually enjoy ‘em while soaking in a little sun – hey, I’m there!
CINEMART THEATER CAFE
106-03 Metropolitan Avenue
One of Forest Hills’ best-kept secrets, the CINEMART THEATER CAFÉ is the perfect leisurely ambience for this time of year – especially if you’re going to see a movie next door. One look at their rattan chairs lining that tree-shaded portion of Metropolitan, just east of Ascan, and you’re going to want to stop in and see what the heck this place is all about. What you’ll find, actually, is a nice assortment of crepes, some rather creative sandwiches, and an extensive variety of coffee drinks pretty unparalleled in these parts. The nicely eclectic Mediterranean menu here is the perfect recipe for a light pre-cinema meal, and since they serve alcohol (and are open until midnight) you can always stop in after the flick for a drink, too. (By the way, who says you even have to see a movie – this place is so darn comfortable and inviting, why would you want to leave it before you have to, right?)
33-02 34th Avenue
LOCALE is just without question one of the most romantic nightspots in Astoria. Located precisely on the corner of 34th Avenue and 33rd Street, there are any number of seating areas from which to choose inside – the large bar and its high stools, the elevated cozy corner lounge, the intimate tables in the main dining areas, but if you ask us, dining at LOCALE is all about dining outside. Even as you approach, say half a block away, you can definitely sense the healthy buzz of enthusiastic activity as patrons enjoy the very best of Italian nuova cucina – highly creative Pasta dishes, refreshing Insalate, and some truly savory Antipasti – all right out there on the corner sidewalks. And honestly, after you catch a glimpse of that, would you really want to sit anywhere else?
& BEER GARDEN
29-19 24th Avenue
Meanwhile, also in Astoria, the epitome of outdoor dining – the renowned BOHEMIAN HALL & BEER GARDEN – has long been one of our favorites. While certainly beer is the name of the game here – Staropramen, Czechvar, Brouczech, Erdinger, Hoegaarden, Krusovice, Stella and Spaten, just to name a few – one of the things we always flip for is the food, as well. Their Kielbasas, their Pierogies, and their unbelievable Potato Pancakes. What can we say, there may not be a more escapist experience than spending an afternoon inside this Czech beer garden – so if you’ve never been, make sure you get your first visit out of the way, because the next time you’re going to want to bring lots and lots of friends!
RADEGAST HALL & BIERGARTEN
113 North 3rd Street
Of course, it would be impossible to mention the folks behind BOHEMIAN HALL without throwing a nod to their fantastic new outlet in Williamsburg, the RADEGAST HALL & BIERGARTEN, one of the best uses of space, in our humble opinion, in the entire neighborhood. Apart from an exceptional beer selection featuring no less than 13 of Belgium, Germany, and Czechoslovakia’s finest on tap, you’ll be equally impressed with the food at RADEGAST, hearty fare like Hungarian Goulash, Pork Tenderloin, and Braised Rabbit. And a word to the wise – make sure you try the Bavarian Pretzel (served with home-made spicy mustard, sea salt, and cornishes). Definitely worth the trip!
184 North 10th Street
MY MOON has long been one of our favorite outdoor spaces – the place is just so darn huge! And you know how we love any orange-themed setting. Still, whether you’re sitting outside on their elevated grand courtyard, or along the left, nestled intimately side their inviting manger-style booths, make no mistake – you’re experiencing one of the finer outdoor dining pleasures in New York City. And the fact that their Mediterranean cuisine with a Turkish twist (Chicken Kebabs, Grilled Lamb Chops, Braised Pork Belly!) is equally impressive makes your experience here even that much more enjoyable. (Make sure you sample of their creative cocktails, too – like, for example, the Brooklyn Railyard or the Pom Collins!)
JADE EATERY ‘n’ DIRTY PIERRE’S
(718) 793-2203 (JADE)
(718) 830-9698 (PIERRE’S)
Aficionados of Forest Hills know that one of the best places to enjoy a nice balmy evening is out on cobblestoned Station Square, just across from the LIRR Station. And how about the fact that you’ve got two great choices from which to do so – JADE EATERY & LOUNGE, the oh-so-trendy Asian-fusion restaurant from the Pravda Group, with some fantastic Pad Thai, Beef Satay, and Basil Shrimp, and the clubby and intimate DIRTY PIERRE’S, where you can enjoy All-You-Can-Eat Mussels on Tuesday nights, and of course, their highly-acclaimed Bistro Burger any night of the week, easily one of the best around.
126th Street and
What can we tell you, folks, but citiFIELD is one of the most happening places in Queens these days. And that has nothing to do with what’s going on out there on the ballfield! And guess what, when the NATIONALS return on Monday May 25th, Tuesday May 26th, and Wednesday May 27th – three self-proclaimed “VALUE” games – you can actually get into the ballpark for as little as $20 a person. Which you are hereby advised to do, because the thing about citiFIELD is this… it really doesn’t matter where you sit, in fact it doesn’t even matter who’s playing, your experience is going to be shaped more by your ambling about and soaking in the ambience, and sampling the offerings from the SHAKE SHACK, BLUE SMOKE, EL VERANO TAQUERIA, MAMA’S OF CORONA, etc. Hey, why waste your hard-earned money on a baseball game, when you can waste it on a whole mess of extravagantly delicious food!