2010-03-24 / Restaurant of the Week

Grand Cafe Celebrates Spring

a t last the first warm day of the year sprang forth, coinciding with a jubilant St. Patrick’s Day, resulting in an extra convivial crowd at the everpopular Grand Café. Why so popular? To start with, you can’t beat the selection of meals, from small snacks, crepes and international coffee

drinks to sandwiches, salads, wraps, Panini and

full entrées at dinner time. Then there’s the weekend brunch which practically stops traffic on 30th Avenue as diners bask in the sun at the outdoor tables. Inside, there are plenty of bistro tables and cane backed chairs as well as cozy nooks and banquettes for intimate dining and conversation. Add to that fast and friendly service and affordable prices and you see why Grand Café is so….grand!

We sipped on pomegranate martinis, just one of many specialty drinks such as a peach cosmopolitan, fruity, minty mojitos or Brazilian caipirinha. There are over a dozen imported beers and the wine list features vintages from Argentina, France, Italy and Chile, from $22 per bottle. Grand Café’s appetizers are so good, you’ll want to eat them at any time of day. The crab and shrimp spring rolls are light and crispy, served with a tangy sweet and sour sauce ($9.75 for six). Wasabi shrimp tempura are golden and crispy and the wasabi sauce packs a punch. Buffalo chicken wings come with a spicy sauce and creamy bleu cheese dressing and are perfect for sharing. Crispy calamari rings and hand cut chicken tenders with honey mustard offer plenty to share. The Grand Platter offers a great option for the whole table as it provides a sampling of mozzarella sticks, Buffalo wings, calamari rings, chicken tenders, spring rolls and quesadillas ($19). My dining companion and I shared a Portobello salad, tossed with spring greens, roasted peppers and creamy goat cheese, drizzled with balsamic vinaigrette ($11.50).

More than a dozen wraps and Panini are available and are great for lunch, dinner or a late night snack. One of the most popular is the Mediterranean wrap with grilled chicken, roasted peppers and feta cheese, or the Grand shrimp Panini with smoky bacon, haloumi cheese and tomato. You can choose your bread such as sourdough, flat Panini or seven grain and can have your sandwich pressed on the grill for extra flavor and gooey cheese on the inside. The Grand steak Panini is made with mozzarella cheese and caramelized onions and roasted peppers and all sandwiches are served with your choice of field greens or crispy, shoestring French fries. You can also request sweet potato fries, which are simply addictive.

Dinner entrées include selections in pasta, fish, meat and chicken. The handmade lobster ravioli are exceptional. Made with striped pasta dough, these little pillows are filled with sweet lobster meat and drizzled with sage butter sauce. Fagottini are purse-shaped pasta, topped with gorgonzola cheese and walnuts for

a toothsome dish ($11). Atlantic salmon is cooked to perfection and served with mashed potatoes and a beautiful mélange of grilled vegetables ($17.50). Grand Café’s grilled skirt steak is one of my favorites for its tenderness and rich texture, cooked to order and served sliced with your choice of potatoes or rice and a small spring salad. For a light and tasty meal, try the grilled chicken kebab, skewered with fresh vegetables and tender chunks of chicken breast.

Desserts include Junior’s creamy cheesecake, profiteroles, European pastries, banana pudding and Godiva double chocolate cheesecake. Grand Café’s crepes also make an excellent dessert, filled with fruit and creamy Nutella. For a snack or light lunch, try a savory crepe filled with ham and cheese. Don’t forget to have a freshly brewed coffee drink, served cold or hot.

Grand Café’s popular brunch is served on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays from 8am till 4:00pm. The $11.50 fixed price includes a brunch cocktail, eggs, omelets, fritattas, pancakes and French toast, salads, their famous burger and more. Grand Café prepares breakfast every morning, so you can stop in on your way to work.

There’s a well-appointed private party room in the back of the Café which accommodates 55 people and boasts a separate bar, sound system and restrooms for your guests. Plan your graduation, engagement or shower party now to reserve your space.

Visit Grand Café anytime for breakfast, lunch, dinner, late night snack or enjoy a cocktail in the cozy lounge. The kitchen is open until 1am during the week and until 2am on weekends for your late night dining pleasure. The food is fresh and inventive and the service is fast and friendly. Grand Café is open seven days a week from 8am until 2am on weeknights and 3:30am on weekends. Stop in for their fabulous brunch too.


37-01 30th Avenue • Astoria, NY

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