CUP Diner And Bar Offers 24 Hours Of Food And Fun
To call CUP a diner does not really do it justice. This brand-spanking-new, open-24-hours eatery is already the hip place to be, located just across the street from the American Museum of the Moving Image and the multiplex cinema.
CUP’s spacious interior can be described as American retro diner meets French bistro. Retro tile floors and white tile walls are warmed by avocado green booths and accents of wood. Historic photos and news clippings from the Queens Museum have been enlarged to create a wonderful tableau on the walls. There’s even a childhood drawing by City Councilmember Peter Vallone, who was on hand for CUP’s grand opening, adorning one wall. Best of all, the prices are great and the food is fantastic, prepared in a sparkling chrome kitchen that is visible to diners. A unique and exciting place for breakfast, an extraordinary burger, cocktails, or an entire gourmet meal, CUP has it all, even more remarkable for their being open just one month,
What I like most about CUP’s menu is the freedom it allows its patrons. Their extensive list of small plates, salads, hot and cold sandwiches, wraps, burgers or large plates will satisfy everyone’s desires, even finicky kids. We started with charcoal grilled corn on the cob, finished with cayenne pepper, mayonnaise and Mexican cheese, two huge ears of corn on skewers for just $4. Crisp, golden popcorn shrimp are served piping hot with a chipotle-mayo dipping sauce that complements their flavor ($7). Beer braised mussels with grilled garlic bread are great for sharing, as are the cornmeal crusted fried calamari, served with zesty tomato sauce. CUP has taken an American diner classic, macaroni and cheese, and with Vermont cheddar, transformed it into a sinfully delicious dish. Forget everything you ever knew about mac and cheese and try CUP’s version.
Chef Eric Miller and Executive Chef Omar Clemente have improved classic diner fare and added gourmet dishes such as those you’d find in expensive, trendy restaurants in Manhattan for a fraction of the price. For example, classic meatloaf has been given a flavorful twist with the addition of pancetta, Italian smoked bacon, and herbs. It’s served with creamy mashed potatoes and sweet Vidalia onion gravy, and you’ll wonder why mom never made it this good. The crisp ahi tuna wrapped in smoked bacon on a bed of rich potato gratin is soon to be CUP’s signature dish. Allow the chef to cook the tuna very rare for optimum flavor and texture. These tender medallions of sushi-grade tuna melt in your mouth, and the smoky, salty bacon brings out the richness of the fish ($16).
The Astoria version of chicken potpie is given a Spanish flair with the addition of cumin and tomato, before being topped with a flaky, pastry crust and served in a ceramic dish ($12). Charcoal grilled prime Angus sirloin steak au poivre served with homemade crispy fries appeals to a meat and potatoes person. Grilled Atlantic salmon is fresh and flaky, served with mashed sweet potatoes and Portobello mushrooms ($15). The pasta is excellent, combining rigatoni with sweet and hot sausage and broccoli rabe, garlic and oil.
Weekend brunch is already an institution at CUP, where only organic eggs are served, whipped into fluffy 3-egg omelets or frittata filled with apple-wood smoked bacon, smoked salmon, goat cheese, Vermont cheddar or spinach. Create your own variety by selecting any three fillings listed on the menu. All egg dishes are served with crisp hash browns and sourdough toast. Stacks of fluffy griddlecakes are topped with fresh berries or bananas. Try the crisp waffles topped with fresh fruit and whipped cream. Coffee is served in an enormous cup that is refilled upon request by the friendly and efficient wait staff. Fresh croissants, muffins and homemade pastry are served with fine quality strawberry jam, sweet whipped butter or cream cheese.
At lunchtime or any time, try the blackened tuna wrap with ginger wasabi and romaine lettuce in a soft tortilla. CUP’s 12-ounce burgers will soon be legendary. Choose among the classic beef burger, freshly ground turkey burger, or a vegetarian roasted Portobello, served with fries and red cabbage slaw. Top them off with creamy bleu cheese, short rib chili, Monterey jack cheese or whatever you fancy for a satisfying meal ($6.50). CUP is open 24 hours, so their late night menu includes apple wood smoked bacon BLTs, panini and a classic chicken club sandwich. Drop in for a cocktail at the chrome, counter-style bar in the center of the room. At least a dozen beers, imported and domestic, are available by the pint or pitcher, and reasonably priced wine by the glass or bottle will complement anything from a late night snack to a full course meal.
Diners are traditionally associated with decadent homemade desserts and CUP is no exception. Try their amaretto cheesecake, whose creaminess defies description. Cape Fear banana cream pie will bring you back to the ‘50s, as will the deep dish apple crumb pie. You’ll go bananas for CUP’s banana split with top-notch ice cream and homemade hot fudge. A fresh brownie hot fudge sundae is a meal in itself and you can choose among six ice cream flavors for it.
CUP Diner and Bar is a great place to go, literally any time of day or night. Whether you want a quick lunch during your workday, an enjoyable dinner, a relaxed weekend brunch, or a drink with friends, CUP is the place to be. I know I’ll be back time and again after a movie, museum touring or shopping. CUP is a truly welcome addition to the neighborhood.