2011-03-30 / Restaurant of the Week


Grand Café invites you to relax and unwind in its cool, comfortable restaurant and lounge, decorated like a Mediterranean resort with bistro tables and wicker chairs. Inside, there’s soft lighting, some cozy banquettes for intimate conversation and a sleek bar with a tropical fish tank. The facade of glass doors will soon open to the street on 30th Avenue for some of the best café life in Astoria. Now, if the weather will just cooperate!!

Grand Café is your go-to place, whatever you’re in the mood for. It was opened by friends, for friends. Stu, Teddy, Nick, Tony, John and Kirk created a laidback atmosphere where one could enjoy a cup of coffee and dessert, a hot pressed sandwich, light appetizers, a crepe, or a full meal, all at affordable prices. Their Saturday and Sunday brunch is so popular, you ought to try it if you haven’t already.

We ended a stressful day at work with two “Grand Pom” martinis, mixed with pomegranate juice that was refreshing and restorative. Fruity mojitos, Coco Ciroc cocktail, peach cosmo, Moscow mule, margaritas and other fresh fruit concoctions are all tempting. There’s an extensive list of wines and beers as well. For our appetizers, Dimitri, the friendly waiter brought us crab and shrimp spring rolls, which were crispy and light, accompanied by sweet and sour sauce for dipping ($9.75 for a serving of four). Greek style cheese or spinach pie is wrapped in flaky phyllo dough and served warm ($5). Our quesadilla was generously filled with cheese and tender chicken, served with fresh guacamole, sour cream and salsa. The quesadilla can be filled with vegetables as well, and they’re so big, one could make a meal of it. Crispy calamari rings beg to be shared, as do homemade chicken tenders with honey mustard. The wasabi shrimp tempura is also popular for the crunchy coating and sauce. Can’t decide? Then order the Grand Platter with a sampling of many appetizers for the whole table to share.

Fresh salads can be an addition to your meal, or as a meal in themselves, tossed with tender greens and ingredients such as Portobello mushrooms, roasted vegetables, cheeses, olives and tomatoes. There are several salads to choose from and they can be topped with grilled chicken or shrimp if you like. Entrees include their crispy pizzas, topped with your favorites and served piping hot from the oven. Though I’ve eaten here many times, I had never tried the fagottini pasta. These purseshaped, hand made pasta are filled with gorgonzola cheese and walnuts, drizzled with butter and sage sauce. My companion’s salmon was cooked to flaky, juicy perfection and served with a generous portion of roasted vegetables and house made mashed potatoes.

At lunchtime, or anytime, including late night, there are a dozen wraps and panini to choose among. One of the house favorites is the Grand chicken Panini, layered with roasted red peppers, bacon, halloumi cheese and tomato for one hefty sandwich ($10). Vegetable wraps and Panini are available too. The Grand sirloin burger is specially ground from lean sirloin and cooked to order. It’s so juicy and delicious and you can top it with your favorite cheese. It’s served with your choice of field green salad or crispy, shoestring French fries.

For dessert, we indulged in an enormous crepe filled with strawberries, bananas and nutella. Other desserts include apple tart, Junior’s cheesecake, peanut butter cupcake, European pastries and more. You’re welcome to stop in at anytime for as little as a cup of coffee and a wonderful sweet treat. The welcoming, unhurr i e d atmosphere is conducive to conversation with friends.

Grand Café even has an elegant private room for sit-down parties of up to 45 people, or 75 for cocktails. There’s a private bar and four nicely appointed restrooms for your guests, and specially smoked glass provides privacy. Grand Café is open seven days a week from 7:00 am for fabulous breakfasts, coffee drinks, pastries and more. Dinner is served until 1:00 am and the lounge stays open until the wee hours. The ever- popular brunch is served on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays from 10am till 4pm. The $11.50 price includes a brunch cocktail, eggs, omelets, frittatas, their famous burger and more. Lunchtime offers the same great sandwiches and wraps at great prices and delivery is available.

Come see why many consider Grand Café to be the best in casual dining here in Astoria. A Grand “thank you” to Grand Café. 37-01 30th Avenue  Astoria, NY

718.777.7321 www.grandcafelounge.com

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