2006-11-22 / Restaurant of the Week

Gazette RESTAURANT Of The WEEK

Cup Diner And Bar Has Retro Cool And Comfort Food
by Teresa Barile

t here's something for everyone at Cup Diner and Bar. From incredible breakfasts served each day, an impressive brunch on Saturdays and Sundays and lunch sandwiches, wraps and paninis to full-course dinners that epitomize comfort food, Cup is on my list of favorite places.

Cup Diner and Bar 35-01 36th Street, Astoria 718.937.2322 Cup Diner and Bar 35-01 36th Street, Astoria 718.937.2322 Cup's spacious, multi-level interior can be

described as American retro diner meets Soho. Chiclet tile floors and white tile walls reminiscent of the 1950s are warmed by wood accents and avocado green booths. Historic photos and news clippings from the Queens Museum have been blown up to create a wonderful tableau on the walls. Adults, children and hipsters alike all will enjoy a meal at Cup Diner and Bar. What's more, the prices are great and the food, prepared in a sparkling clean kitchen that is visible to diners, is fantastic.

Enjoy one of their signature Cup cocktails, such as the Cup of punch, which combines fruity liqueurs and vodka, served over ice in 16-ounce coffee mugs. Belgian and domestic beers and wine are also available, as is a large variety of soft drinks, smoothies and classic milk shakes. And what would a diner be without great coffee, served in enormous cups?

Start with an ear of Cup's famous grilled corn on the cob topped with cojito cheese and a dusting of chili pepper ($3.95). Cup's old-fashioned macaroni and cheese is made with real Vermont cheddar and is decadently delicious, as are their home-style macaroni salad, potato salad and classic cole slaw. Spicy chicken wings, home-style chicken tenders and guacamole are all great for sharing.

Cup serves a dozen entrée salads that come in very generously sized portions. The steak fritte salad combines organic greens with diced tomato, potato sticks and slices of juicy grilled skirt steak ($11.95). Cup's special L.A. salad includes fresh berries, walnuts and creamy bleu cheese for extra flavor and texture.

Cup is a great place for a hearty, home-style dinner. Try a diner classic of meatloaf with mashed potatoes. Cup's version is juicy, full of chopped vegetables and herbs, and comes with creamy, home style mashed potatoes and grilled seasonal vegetables. Don't tell mom how much you liked it! Southern fried chicken with your choice of potatoes will satisfy your need for comfort, as will a juicy rack of St. Louis style baby back ribs. These ribs are meatier than most, and cooked till the meat falls off the bone. The house made barbecue sauce is delicious, too. Herb roasted chicken with apple stuffing is the perfect autumn dish and Cup does a nice job of it. A number of pasta dishes round out the dinner entrees, ensuring that everyone gets just what they want.

The chef is proud of his fish and seafood entrees, with special kudos going to the all-claw crabcakes, full of sweet crabmeat and served with home-style tartar sauce ($13.95). Salmon Dijon gets a nice kick from the spicy mustard, and blackened tuna steak rivals any found in more expensive eateries. All entrees come with a choice of two side dishes, including mashed sweet potatoes, garlic mashed potatoes, steak fries, fresh string beans, steamed broccoli and sautéed fresh spinach.

For lunch, the focaccini sandwiches, filled with choice of Cajun chicken, Tuscan turkey or veggies, then pressed on the grill to crisp, golden perfection, are a big hit at $6.95. Wraps, such as the Thai chicken wrap, roast beef wrap or California turkey wrap with avocado and cucumber, all served with pickle and coleslaw, make for a satisfying lunch. Mexican quesadillas, two large, flour tortillas, are stuffed with cheddar and Jack cheeses and your choice of roasted vegetables, grilled chicken, Cajun chicken or grilled shrimp. Cup's famous 9-ounce burgers are not to be missed. Whether you order one for lunch, dinner or to quell an attack of late-night munchies, these burgers require two hands and several napkins, especially when topped with your choice of cheeses, including mozzarella, and bacon, avocado, and marinara sauce and more. Get a side of curly fries and you'll be full for hours.

Cup's desserts will bring you back to happier times as you try the deep dish apple crumb pie topped with ice cream, or a slice of New York style cheesecake. Your friendly waitperson will bring over a tray of sophisticated desserts for you to drool over, such as individual chocolate mousse cake, individual pecan or pumpkin mousse tart or carrot cake.

Breakfast is served every day from 7 a.m., though you can order breakfast items any time of day or night. Weekend brunch is already an institution at Cup, where eggs are whipped into fluffy omelets filled with any favorite cheese, spinach, peppers, mushrooms or onion. Crisp bacon, ham, sausages and turkey bacon are also offered. Stacks of fluffy griddlecakes are made with fresh berries, bananas or granola. Try the crisp waffles topped with fresh fruit and whipped cream. Freshly baked muffins, Danish pastries, croissants and bagels are always delicious and the coffee, served in a giant cup, is refilled on request by the friendly and efficient wait staff. Order a Cup brunch cocktail too.

Cup Diner and Bar is a great place to go for a meal nearly any time of day or night. They're open from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. during the week, and until midnight on Friday and Saturday. Weekend brunch is served until 4 p.m., and breakfast is served any time of day or night. They will gladly deliver to your home or office for free and can provide on- or off-premises catering for your next important event.

Put Cup Diner and Bar on your list of places to visit for breakfast, lunch, dinner, weekend brunch or Happy Hour. The service is efficient and very friendly, and Cup tee shirts make nice gifts. They're located next to the Movie Multiplex and across from the Museum of the Moving Image.

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