2009-11-25 / Restaurant of the Week

CAVALIER…A CLASSIC SINCE 1950

t his 60-year-old landmark restaurant in Jackson Heights was, is, and will always be a classic neighborhood restaurant and lounge. Now, recent renovations have kept its original ‘50s style charm, but include some updates to keep pace with the changing face of the neighborhood it calls home.

The Londono Family makes their guests of all ages

feel at home along with Carlos, the 33-year veteran waiter, who knows all the regulars by name. Cavalier is a “must go” if you enjoy good food, a fine bar, excellent service, a classy setting and music.

The new interior can be described as retro-classic and features pub tables near the bar which has been outfitted with muted flat screen televisions so that patrons can watch their favorite games without disturbing others. Here, a lively Happy Hour takes place Monday to Friday from 4:00 to 7:00pm and Sunday 12:00 to 6:oopm. Drink specials include $3 beer, $5 margaritas and $4 mixed drinks along with hot wings, nacho mamas and $5 quesadillas to munch on. The quiet dining room in the rear features cozy banquettes decorated with lush red carpet and walls to match adorned with classy prints. At any moment, you’d expect Frank Sinatra or Tony Bennett to walk in and listen to the live piano music playing on Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings from 6:00 to 9:30pm, the perfect accompaniment to your delicious meal. After 10pm, things heat up a bit when a younger crowd gathers for d.j. music spinning Latin and American music and hits from the ‘80s, ‘90s, and today.

One thing that hasn’t changed is the quality of the food at Cavalier and as a special gift to the community, Cavalier is continuing their special rollback prices for the month of December. This incredibly generous offer allows all suffering from the recession and holiday shopping to enjoy a weekly menu at prices not seen since they first opened 40 years ago. Enjoy a delicious entrée such as sliced roast beef with potatoes and vegetables for just $7.95! Other entrées include meatloaf, shepherd’s pie and more, with new menus each week throughout the month. Coffee costs just 75 cents! Naturally, rollback prices are not in effect on holidays, but see their ad for more details.

The regular menu features wonderful appetizers, entrees, burgers and sandwiches, served all day for lunch, dinner or late night snack. The kitchen stays open until 10pm on weekdays and until midnight on Fridays and Saturdays, while the lively bar stays open until the wee hours. We started with savory clams casino topped with garlicky bread crumbs and smoky bacon. The mini empanadas are a bar favorite, filled with potato and served with spicy dipping sauce. Fried rings of calamari are tender and crisp, and mussels are prepared in tomato and garlic sauce or spicy fra diavolo sauce ($8).

We sipped on glasses of red wine while our dinner entrées were being prepared. I chose the roast beef off of the rollback menu and was delighted with this perfectly cooked, thinly sliced roast beef au jus, served with your choice of potatoes and fresh vegetables. As I mentioned, at $7.95, this certainly cannot be beat and allows for family dining on a budget. My dining companion chose the sizzling fajitas off the regular menu, another popular item, prepared with either tender breast of chicken, steak or shrimp, peppers and onions. It arrives on a sizzling hot platter along with rice and beans and tortillas for rolling it all up ($18). Cavalier’s sizzling steak is another house favorite: a certified Angus steak cooked to order and smothered with onions and peppers. Steak Bushmill has a peppercorn rub with creamy Irish whiskey sauce. Next time I’ll try the pork chops and apple sauce or classic Southern fried chicken.

Continental dishes include veal, chicken or fillet of sole Francese with lemon, butter and white wine sauce, served with linguine and salad. The seafood combination is a generous platter of clams, mussels, shrimp and calamari in a piquant tomato sauce over a mound of linguine. Spaghetti and meatballs, penne alla vodka and mamma’s meat lasagna are all delicious choices.

For lunch, dinner or late night snack, there are delicious burgers with your favorite toppings and golden fries. Cavalier makes delicious Panini sandwiches, all hot pressed on fresh ciabatta bread and filled with roast pork, ham and cheese, prosciutto and mozzarella, grilled vegetables and more.

For dessert we shared the Bailey’s Irish rice pudding and the creamy cheesecake, but there’s also chocolate mousse cake, apple pie a la mode and cool, creamy flan.

Cavalier has a well-appointed private party room just adjacent to the main room that will accommodate from 25 to 75 people for a business or family event. Over the years, this well-dressed room has hosted political functions, community based dinners and hundreds of holiday parties and special occasions. Contact Cavalier now to reserve your next event. A full Thanksgiving dinner is being served Thursday and Friday of this week for just $26.95 and reservations are being accepted for Christmas and New Year’s Eve. You can also come for all your favorite sports games and Direct TV’s NFL Sunday ticket. There are drink specials and 50-cent wings and this will be a great place to watch the Super Bowl.

With its fabulous food and service, live music, Happy Hour and amazing rollback prices through the month of December (excluding holidays) you owe it to yourself to check out a classic New York eatery, better than ever after 60 years!

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