2015-04-08 / Restaurant of the Week

GRAND CAFÉ

Spring is in the air at Grand Café, even if the temperature isn’t cooperating, the vibe at Grand Café is always fresh, lively, and promising. The café’s tables outside are proof that we are all just counting down the minutes until they are full of patrons dining on Grand Café’s superb food, while basking in the warmth of the 30th Avenue sun.

No matter what the weather is, the friendly, attractive staff at Grand Café welcomes you, while the chef promises an excellent meal, be it lunch, dinner, late night snack, or weekend brunch. Indeed the Mediterranean-inspired menu has everything you could desire, from an elegant cheese plate to pair with wine, to a juicy skirt steak, and everything in between, including delectable desserts.

We settled into one of their comfortable bistro tables by the window and took note of the impressive selection of cocktails, wines and beers on hand. The new organic cocktails are almost too pretty to drink. “Razzle Dazzle” is mixed with raspberry vodka and juices, garnished with fruit, while “Fostoria” was a citrusy mix of vodka, orange juice, and cranberry, garnished with a twig of oregano. “Gingerella” is shaken with ginger, gin, and cucumber for a pretty, refreshing drink that will open your appetite. Fine, imported beers and reasonably priced wines are available. Grand Café is an ideal place to meet friends after work for a cocktail or wine, and shareable small plates.

To start off, our lovely server Stephanie suggested the Greek bruschetta, a light, crispy treat constructed on grilled pita bread topped with chopped tomato, basil and crumbled feta cheese that pairs up well with any drink. Vegetable spring rolls are light and crispy, served with a sweet and spicy dipping sauce ($9.50). Chicken skewers served with triangles of grilled pita and tzatziki make a nice, light snack. Crispy, tender rings of calamari are ideal for sharing, as are the Buffalo wings. Groups love sharing the nachos supreme topped with chili and cheese or the quesadillas filled with cheese, vegetables, chicken or steak. The Grand Platter offers a great option for the whole table as it provides a sampling of mozzarella sticks, Buffalo wings, chicken tenders, spring rolls and cheese quesadilla for $21.50.

There are four new, organic salads on the menu that could start your meal or offer a light lunch or dinner. We loved the “Raw Asian” salad tossed with shredded red cabbage, carrots, zucchini and red pepper with ginger sesame dressing. Quinoa salad is all the rage these days and Grand Café’s is nutty, healthy and delicious, as is the kale salad tossed with beets, carrots, berries, and apple cider vinaigrette.

For lunch, dinner, or late night, Grand Café’s burgers are hot and juicy, made from grassfed beef and turkey and placed on your choice of brioche bun or 7-grain bun. Don’t want the bread? You can get your juicy burger on a bed of greens, topped as you like. The seasoned lamb burger is perfect for spring time, topped with spicy feta cheese. Non-meat options include the ‘beefy’ Portobello mushroom burger and the vegetable chipotle burger with a nice kick of spice from chipotle mayo. Choose a small salad or fries on the side or upgrade to sweet potato fries, or classic Greek fries with feta and oregano. The wraps and panini require two hands and are filled with tuna or chicken salad, grilled salmon, or grilled vegetables. The Grand panini is ciabatta bread layered with roasted peppers, mozzarella, and caramelized onion, all pressed on a hot grill to maximize the “yum” factor.

Grand Café’s dinner entrées are beautifully presented on gleaming dishes and generously sized. My friend marveled over the pan-seared salmon, which was remarkably fresh, flaky, and perfectly cooked ($17.50). My skirt steak was succulent and juicy, also perfectly cooked and cut into neat strips. Keep it light with sautéed shrimp, chicken kebab platter, or penne alla vodka. Entrées (except pasta) come with your choice of two side dishes, including a mélange of grilled vegetables, sautéed spinach, wild rice or French fries, making a meal here a great deal and we took plenty home for lunch the next day.

Grand Café is also famous for coffee drinks, hot and cold, and desserts, such as creamy Junior’s cheese cake, homemade baklava, pecan pie, tiramisu and organic chia pudding. I can never resist the crepes here, made on the spot and filled with Nutella and strawberries or try a savory crepe filled with ham and cheese for a light lunch with a salad on the side. Grand Café’s popular brunch is served on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays from 8am till 4pm. The $13 fixed price includes a brunch cocktail, eggs, omelets, fritatta, pancakes and French toast, salads, awesome burgers and more. Grand Café is made for friends, and was begun by friends, Stu, Teddy, Nick, Tony, John and Kirk ten years ago. You can taste their commitment to excellence in every delicious dish. “Ginger” juice bar is just next door on 37th Street, serving cold-pressed juices of all kinds, and healthy, organic treats.

Put some spring in your step and visit Grand Café for great food, friendly service and a positive vibe.

37-01 30th Avenue • Astoria, NY
718.777.7321

www.grandcafelounge.com

www.astoriaginger.com

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