Blog: Queens Taste 2015
Queens, the borough home to the most diverse population in the country is often overlooked due to her more famous neighbor to the West (Manhattan) and her loud, fast-developing neighbor to the South (Brooklyn). The residents of Queens however, have long understood the advantages that come from having inspiration from all corners of the world. It is a very fortunate coincidence that the borough’s symbol is the Unisphere, the large metallic globe left over from the World’s Fair in Flushing Meadows Park.
Not even a mile from the Unisphere, a smattering of folks gathered Tuesday night at the New York Hall of Science to celebrate the 13th Annual Queens Taste, organized with pride by the Queens Economic Development Corporation (QEDC). With a cavalcade of outstanding restaurants promised, we immediately joined many in the likeminded crowd and began eating almost as immediately as we entered the unique venue and setting. As we began to strategize on how to divide and conquer, the program began with remarks from Borough President Melinda Katz and Seth Bornstein of QEDC, boasting about the virtues of Queens as the “World’s Borough.” After acknowledging some local entrepreneurs, the lively music of The Afro-Latineers filled the background nicely as people networked and enjoyed some of the delicious fare.
Gleaning from a variety of cultural inspiration, we began with “Octopus and Vegetarian Grape Leaves” from Astoria’s Zenon Taverna and some tasty varieties of seafood, in rice, pasta and salad forms courtesy of Long Island City’s Villa Enrico. With 62 participating restaurants, vendors and other purveyors, we realized early on that sampling from every table would be impossible- and with that in mind, we sought out some of the places that we hadn’t visited previously.
Among the evening’s earliest highlights, we dug right into a savory “Salmon and Vegetable” dish from Mulan of Flushing, some “Steak Tartare” from Apertif of Bayside and “Beef Tartare” courtesy of Long Island City’s M. Wells. Speaking of delectable meats, Astoria’s Bareburger had garnered perhaps the evening’s longest line by serving piping hot “Beef Sliders with Bleu Cheese Crumbles.” Juicy and rich, the slider was among the best samples that we grabbed early on as the space began filling up with hungry patrons.
The best part about the annual Queens Taste is the fact that so many different neighborhoods within the borough are showcased to diners for the first time. Seeing places like Woodside (La Adelita’s “Chicken Tostada”), Douglaston (Fairway’s “Buffalo Chicken Sliders”), Glendale (Room 55′s “Greek Yogurt Soup with Pork Belly”), Woodhaven (Neir’s Tavern’s “Meatballs”) and Jamaica (O Lavrador’s “Paella”) on hand, really exhibits a sense of a larger community than one might think otherwise. After some refreshing drinks from Bruce Cost Ginger Ale and a sweet “Mojito” from Queens Courage, we resumed tasting the likes of the “Chicken Salad” from Dutch Kills Centraal, the “Spinach and Curry Knish” from Judy’s Knishes and of course the irresistible “Jalapeno Cheddar Burger” from F. Ottomanelli’s before waiving the white flag for the evening.
At the end of the day, the People’s Choice votes went to the aforementioned “Steak Tartare” from Aperitif as the evening’s best appetizer, while Bareburger and Fairway tied for best entrees. While we can’t necessarily disagree with any of these decisions, it was the entire borough of Queens that was victorious on Tuesday evening- from its residents to its restaurants- and the QEDC who once again, helped us all understand what borough pride is all about.
- Jackie Benavides