2012-03-28 / Restaurant of the Week

GRAND CAFÉ

Grand Café is Astoria’s answer to a European style café. Enjoy café life at this friendly, easygoing eatery and lounge, conveniently located on 30th Avenue. Already, patrons bask in the sun at the outdoor tables, now that the weather is more cooperative, and the vibe inside is cool and relaxed. Grand Café is a place made for friends, and was actually opened by friends nearly seven years ago. The dapper partners Stu, Teddy, Kirk, Nick, Tony and John are on hand to ensure that everyone is having a pleasant experience. Personally, I’m a frequent visitor to Grand Café and am always pleased with the great food and cocktails, coffees and desserts and above all, the relaxed atmosphere.

Our lovely server, Valentina, brought us a carafe of water and two fabulous cocktails: a fruity pomegranate mojito for me, mixed with muddled mint and limes, and a chic peach cosmopolitan for my friend. Other tantalizing cocktails include sweet tea lemonade with vodka, and Jose Cuervo margaritas. Enjoy your favorite wine or beer as well at the backlit bar, or at a breezy bistro table. At Grand Café, you can nibble on appetizers, enjoy a full meal or snack anytime you like. We shared a platter of crispy, crunchy calamari with a zesty marinara dipping sauce ($10.25). Crab and shrimp spring rolls are crispy and light, served four to an order accompanied by sweet and sour sauce for dipping ($10). One of the most popular appetizer/snacks is the quesadilla, grilled to order and 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. A Mediterranean dip platter includes artichoke and spinach dip, roasted garlic, hummus and eggplant dip along with warm triangles of grilled pita, ideal for sharing ($13.25). The Grand Platter offers a sampling of mozzarella sticks, buffalo wings, chicken tenders, shrimp rolls, calamari and cheese quesadillas for the whole table to share.

Grand Café offers satisfying dinner entrees as well, incorporating fish, chicken, beef and vegetables into an array of pleasing dishes. The skirt steak platter is one of my favorites, cooked to perfection and served with your choice of two side dishes that include vegetables, their fabulous mashed potatoes, French fries, rice or mixed green salad. My friend devoured the pan seared salmon, fresh from the sea and perfectly seasoned. The chicken kabob is a healthy choice, laced with tender chicken breast and fresh vegetables ($13). We shared a generous salad of roasted beets and creamy goat cheese over baby greens, sprinkled with walnuts and indeed, Grand Café’s salads could be a meal alone. Check out the classic Cobb salad with grilled chicken, avocado, bacon bits, olives and cheddar cheese, or the grilled Portobello mushroom salad over greens with goat cheese and roasted peppers ($12.50). If you feel like something light, the crispy, thin crust pizza is the ticket, served Margherita style with tomato and basil, spinach and artichoke or the Grand special with ham, bacon, sausage, mushrooms, and peppers. Grand Café’s wraps and paninis make the perfect lunch, dinner, or late night snack. One of the house favorites is the Grand panini, layered with either chicken or steak and roasted red peppers, caramelized onions and mozzarella. Vegetable wraps and panini are available too. This time I tried their fabulous grass-fed beef burger, cooked to order and served on a toasted seven grain bun. It was juicy, flavorful and satisfying, served with French fries or salad. I opted for sweet potato fries for a small charge. You can also order a sirloin burger, specially seasoned lamb burger, turkey burger or vegetable burger, so there’s something for everyone here at Grand Café.

For dessert, we indulged in an enormous crepe filled with bananas and Nutella, flanked by scoops of vanilla and chocolate ice cream. Southern style pecan pie, warm chocolate soufflé, profiteroles, and raspberry white chocolate cake are all decadent choices for dessert, along with a cool frappe, espresso or cappuccino.

Grand Café 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 7a.m. for fabulous breakfasts, coffee drinks, pastries and more. Dinner is served until 1a.m. and the lounge stays open until the wee hours. Grand Café is the place to be for brunch, served on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays from 9a.m. till 4p.m. For $13, you’ll get a brunch cocktail or juice, coffee or tea and your choice of entrée. You’ll be in for a grand European style café experience at Grand Café in Astoria. Enjoy!

37-01 30th Avenue  Astoria, NY
718.777.7321

www.grandcafelounge.com

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