2011-05-04 / Restaurant of the Week

Q Bistro

Put Q Bistro on your top-ten list for a "Manhattan caliber" dining experience located on a quiet street in leafy Forest Hills. I am still telling friends about Q Bistro, located on the former site of Q Thai restaurant. The new Q Bistro opened last month after extensive renovations that created a cozy and sophisticated dining room with upholstered banquettes, tables dressed in crisp, white linens and an estate-sized mirror. Creamy beige walls serve as a gallery adorned with vibrant, original artwork that can be yours, as it's all for sale from the two artists who created it. The open kitchen, in the corner of the dining room is where Chef Allan, a graduate of the prestigious Culinary Institute of America, works his magic and then looks at the reactions of the diners after they taste his delicious creations to make sure everyone's happy.

Proprietor Alan Schivek is a successful restaurateur and wine dealer who hand selects all the vintages on offer from Italy, France, Spain, and Argentina to name a few. There are 27 specialty and craft beers, with one brew that's made in Southampton, Long Island. All of these choices make for a wonderful Happy Hour at Q Bistro, which takes place from Monday to Friday from 5 to 7pm. You can enjoy most of these beers for just $3. and wines for just $5. Since they're located near the LIRR and the subway, why not unwind after a long day at work with a glass or two. Small plates and appetizers are available at the bar to quell your hunger and include a combination of east and west oysters served on ice with traditional cocktail sauce. The chicken liver toast is excellent, topped with caramelized onions on crisp slices of baguette ($7). The chef's cheese plate offers four varieties along with truffle honey and toasted croutons, ideal for sharing with a bottle of wine. The house specialty is razor-cut Spanish octopus, cut into neat strips and flavored with spicy drops of chipotle, fresh cilantro and lemon essence. Even if you don't normally enjoy octopus, I promise you'll like this inventive version and will soak up these flavors with warm onion rolls from the basket on your table. Next time I'll try the grilled striped bass soft tacos with lime essence, avocado salsa and cilantro ($12).

There are about a dozen entrées that cover all categories and all your favorites, prepared on the spot, practically in front of you for maximum freshness and flavor. We started with a shared portion of house made pappardelle pasta, which are long, wide ribbons, sauced with Chef Allan's rich veal ragout, made in the classic tradition with an hours-long demi-glaze reduction ($18). The house made gnocchi are prepared with a mélange of fresh vegetables, making this an ideal meal for vegetarians or anyone forgoing meat. Next, we shared a whole, fresh sea bass, grilled with caramelized ginger and served with tender baby bok choy and whipped potatoes ($24). This fish was so fresh and flaky and seasoned perfectly. The chef will gladly fillet the whole fish for you, if you'd like. The couple seated next to me enjoyed the Arctic char, a wonderful fish that's pan roasted with pomegranate glaze, served with organic spinach, roasted corn and artichoke hearts. Diver sea scallops are seared to keep their juices and flavor, and served with creamy grits, fennel and pancetta.

There are delicious cuts of meat for you to enjoy at Q Bistro. The N.Y. Strip steak is 16 ounces of certified Prime meat, cooked to your order and served sizzling hot with dainty fingerling potatoes, grilled asparagus and the house's own ginger steak sauce ($26). Short ribs are one of my favorite cuts of meat that takes hours to prepare so I'm always happy to see them on a menu when I can enjoy them without doing any of the toiling required. These short ribs were melt-inyour mouth tender and delicious, served on a pillow of herb whipped potatoes with baby bok choy on the side, making for a beautifully presented dish. Even the Q Bistro burger is 14-ounces of Black Angus goodness resting on hefty bun to soak up the delicious juices.

Q Bistro plans to change its menu seasonally to reflect the best the harvest has to offer, but for now, while there is still a chill in the night air, nothing soothes you like the classic comfort food: herbroasted organic chicken. You'll get half of a perfectly roasted chicken with potato gratin, grilled asparagus and shallot thyme jus ($19).

The service at Q Bistro is proper, which means attentive, friendly and professional without being overbearing. Plates and silverware are changed with each course, a nice touch. When it was time for dessert, our chocolate fondant was ushered in with a dollop of fresh cream on the side…yum! Key lime cheesecake, classic N.Y. cheesecake and créme brulee are just some of the options.

Brunch is served on Saturdays and Sundays from noon until 4pm and the glass doors open on warm days to allow for semi al fresco dining. From the a la carte menu, choose among Challah French toast with toasted cinnamon, organic yogurt and house made granola with wildflower honey, French crepes filled with fruit and Chantilly, grilled skirt steak and eggs, or three eggs, any way you'd like. Burgers, salads and cured fish are available too.

Take your cue from me and put Q Bistro on your list of restaurants to visit. They're open seven days a week for dinner from 5pm to 10pm and brunch on Saturday and Sunday from noon until 4pm. Q Bistro is conveniently located near all public transportation, so leave the car at home. Visit their Web site for menus and directions. Welcome Q Bistro to Forest Hills!

108-25 Ascan Avenue  Forest Hills 718.263.6200  www.qbistrony.com

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