2013-10-30 / Restaurant of the Week


Get off the beaten path and treat yourself to a singular dining, drinking, and socializing experience at Rèst-âü-Ránt, also known as RAR Bar. Those “in the know” have been coming to Rèst-âü- Ránt since it opened six years ago. In fact, they’ll be celebrating their sixth Anniversary on November seven, where there will be lots of fun, festivities and free food to thank all the steady clientele who have happily discovered and supported this wonderful bar and restaurant on 35th Avenue in Astoria.

The décor is decidedly Bohemian, not in a contrived way, but owing to the owner’s heritage. Tina Stipanovic has been an Astoria resident for 22 years and is a sculptor, chef, and communityminded neighbor who comes from a family of good cooks. Tina cooked her way through art school and used her creative energy to design the restaurant, build the bar, tables, shelves and chandelier. She created the menu and oversees every detail of this petite spot, even bringing summer vegetables from her own garden to use in the nightly specials.

The emphasis at Rèst-âü-Ránt is on sharing. There are plenty of small plates, both hot and cold, cheese and charcuterie platters and fondue…. yes fondue! Just in time for winter too! Think of how much fun you’ll have swirling cubes of toasted bread into warm, melted cheese with a touch of spirits and sipping on a bottle of good wine.

The wine list at Rèst-âü-Ránt is the most diverse, yet approachable I’ve seen in Astoria, with vintages from Austria, New Zealand, Germany and even Oregon, along with Italy, France, Spain and Portugal. Better still, you can get over hump day with 20 percent off bottles of wine every Wednesday. The beer list is impressive too, with brews from many local breweries including Astoria’s own “Single Cut”. They even have suggested beer and cheese pairings and the first Monday of every month is “beer and bacon” where you can sample varieties of each. Jack, the friendly barman, also mixes up a wide variety of specialty cocktails and standard favorites.

We started with several small plates including their popular Argentinean steak skewers, cooked to order and served with chimmichurri dipping sauce ($9). These bite-sized pieces of steak were juicy, tender and delicious, and went well with the pinot noir we had chosen. Next, the shrimp potstickers came and were quickly devoured, along with their fabulous lump crab cake. This crab cake is replete with sweet, flaky crabmeat and no breading, so you can taste its sweet brininess ($12). There’s even a Maine lobster roll loaded with warm lobster meat, served on a buttered roll with parmesan-crusted grilled corn. Veggie sliders are delicious enough for meat eaters too, served on mini brioche buns topped with fresh salsa ($7). From the cold options, everyone raves about the RAR Bar famous egg salad, made with organic eggs and special spices, served on crusty rolls. Oceans 7 is named for seven-grain crostini spread with cream cheese and topped with Norwegian smoked salmon, capers and shallots. The blackboard on the exposed brick wall features special dishes of the day and soups such as seasonal butternut squash soup.

Dig into a warm Panini constructed on toasted focaccia bread layered with mozzarella, tomato, avocado, and basil. Other varieties include gorgonzola, fig spread and green apples, grilled cheese with bacon, and spicy salami, cheese and roasted red pepper to name a few.

If you prefer to eat a full entrée, Rèst-âü-Ránt has that too. My charming companion loved the homemade cheese ravioli filled with a combination of cheeses and topped with a light cream sauce sprinkled with shaved truffles…a real treat with a nutty flavor. Pork medallions are pan seared and served with herb roasted potatoes and pear ginger sauce. Grilled octopus is one of my favorite dishes from the Mediterranean and Rèst-âü-Ránt renders this deliciously, with a side of wheatberry pilaf and zucchini. The RAR Bar organic burger is eight ounces of guilt-free eating, cooked to order and served on a brioche bun, with a choice of fries or salad.

Even the desserts are made here, so share some handmade chocolate truffles that melt on your tongue, ricotta cheesecake, fruit pastry, or a traditional Croatian cake called “bayadera.” Rèst-âü-Ránt serves a very popular brunch on Saturdays and Sundays from 11am to 4pm where you’ll choose among eggs, omelets, waffles, pannetone French bread pudding, burgers and lobster rolls.

Happy Hour rules at RAR Bar Monday to Friday from 4-7pm. There’s live comedy on Tuesday nights, 20 percent off bottles of wine on Wednesdays, live music on Thursday nights from 9pm to midnight and don’t forget their sixth anniversary celebration on November 7. Rèstâü Ránt is open seven days a week from 4pm until 2am Monday to Thursday, and until 4am on weekends. Enjoy a sunny brunch any Saturday or Sunday and delectable sharing plates, entrees, and fondue the rest of the week. Thank you Tina and Rèst-âü-Ránt!

Corner of 35th Ave. & 30th St.  L.I.C.


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