2006-08-16 / Restaurant of the Week

Bliss Restaurant

45-20 Skillman Avenue, Sunnyside  718.729.0778

liss, a restaurant perched on a quaint corner in Sunnyside at 46th Street (also called Bliss Street) and

Skillman Avenue, truly lives up to

its name. Open for nearly two

years, Bliss is a culinary delight and a B

treasure for those seeking superior, fresh food, a delightful atmosphere and reasonable prices.

This charming, tastefully appointed restaurant resembles a country inn, with a light and airy dining room, pristine wood floors, old-fashioned shutters at the windows and a handsome bar. Now, Bliss Restaurant has even more to offer. A lovely outdoor garden has been created by Dorothy Morehead, the owner, who planted a border of colorful flowers and shrubs around a charming patio that holds seven glass-topped tables. A shady tree keeps the garden cool and breezy, a real treat for New Yorkers seeking an oasis from summer heat and congestion.

Let the stress of the day melt away with a Bliss signature martini, cold beer or fine wine from the cellar. Kyle, our friendly, efficient waiter, brought a basket of house made bread, accompanied by a ramekin of black olive tapenade as a "go-with". Bliss' menu was cleverly designed to

include only the best in beef, fish, pork and pasta. Perhaps the best way to introduce yourself to the magic of Bliss is to take advantage of their incredible prix fixe menu, offered Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings. For just $25, you can choose an appetizer, dinner entre and fine dessert from the menu. A few items carry a slight additional charge, but there are plenty of tempting choices, even without paying more. Appetizers include a generous salad of Belgian endive and greens, topped with chunks of creamy bleu cheese, walnuts and apple wood-smoked bacon. Port wine dressing brought all of these wonderful flavors together. A mound of thinly sliced fried calamari that gets its unique flavor from Pancko crumbs and a hint of sesame oil is served with creamy garlic aioli and spicy tomato jam for dipping ($7.50). Handmade mushroom ravioli are made of pasta so light it is translucent. The woodsy mushroom filling is complemented by tomato confit and sweet pumpkin seed oil drizzled on the plate. Lobster ravioli with pink peppercorn sauce and sauted shrimp are equally delicious. Citrus cured salmon served with capers, red onion and grapefruit crme is an excellent choice for summer

($9.50). Another "must try" are the fresh mussels, steamed with chopped tomato, garlic and capers ($8).

Menus that focus on a few excellent dishes in each category allow for attention to detail and freshness of ingredients, very much the case with Bliss. Bliss' chicken paillard, for example, a light and refreshing dish that is still quite satisfying, includes two tender, pounded breasts, topped with a cold ragout of artichokes, sun-dried tomatoes, roasted red peppers, spinach and sliced new potatoes ($14). Their barbecued ribs, brushed with the chef's own sauce, have become legendary. There's no need to pick up these ribs with your hands-hours of braising cause the meat to fall off the bone with just a nudge from a fork ($19). Pan-roasted pork loin, with a light sauce of sweet mandarin oranges balanced by bitter broccoli rabe and roasted garlic potatoes, is another favorite.

Fish dishes include pan-seared salmon with mesclun greens, crisp onions and chipotle pepper sauce for a nice kick ($13.95). Bliss' chef puts a new twist on shrimp scampi over linguine by incorporating fresh broccoli florets, and plum tomatoes. Marinated hanger steak is cooked to order and served with garlic

mashed potatoes, ratatouille and a light Bordelaise sauce ($18). A traditional New York shell steak is on the menu, too. Chef's specialties are offered on weekends, so there's always something new to try.

Blissful desserts include a heavenly cinnamon bread pudding, laced with raisins and surprisingly light and crisp on top. A chocolate mousse martini is a decadent treat and cool, creamy gelato hits the spot on a hot summer night. Bliss offers some of the best coffee around and serves it in an individual French press, allowing guests to help themselves to more of the rich, robust elixir.

Bliss is open for dinner only, Tuesday through Saturday from 5:30 to 10:30 p.m. and Sundays from 5 to 10 p.m. (closed Mondays). Credit cards are accepted and weekend reservations are recommended. Treat yourself to a little Bliss and a very memorable meal. Bliss is conveniently located near the 46th Street stop on the No. 7 elevated train, making it accessible to commuters. See their Web site for more information. Visit now, while the outdoor garden is open for pleasurable dining. With superior food, a lovely atmosphere and a cool, inviting garden, Bliss has it all.

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