2016-11-16 / Restaurant of the Week

The Astor Room

Escape the madness and uncertainty of the modern day with a visit to The Astor Room at Kaufman Astoria Studios with its Golden Age beauty. The fabled Astor Room originally opened in 1920 as the “commissary” for stars such as W.C. Fields, Gloria Swanson, and the Marx Brothers in between takes in the movie studio. Today, hit shows including “Orange is the New Black” and “Shades of Blue” are recorded here. Recent renovations and a change of management have restored The Astor Room to its golden sheen, making it a ‘must go’ for everyone interested in a unique dining experience.

Embark on a culinary and historic journey while you dine like a star. What’s more, there’s live music every night and we were treated to Michael Mott and his very talented friends on a recent Wednesday evening. Where, this close to home, can you indulge in a great meal, with live music and great service in a charming setting?

Soothe yourself with one of their classic or signature cocktails, such as the Studio cocktail, Clara Bow, Blood and Sand, or My Darling Clementine. Freddy, the skilled barman mixed up a Queens Road and offered a sampling of candied bacon to nibble on before we transferred over to our cozy table just as the music was starting. Local beers such as Longhammer IPA from Brooklyn and Bronx Ale are on tap, and there’s a good wine selection.

Joe Nikci, the funny, friendly manager, took care of ordering for us while he tended to the dining room as well as two private parties in progress. Indeed, The Astor Room is an ideal venue for your private party or corporate event. The Valentino Room holds 40 for a sit-down dinner, or 60 for a cocktail party. Downstairs, Studio A, a former music recording studio for the likes of Itzhak Perlman and Branford Marsalis, has been converted to a spacious private event space for 150 people, complete with a stage, bar, lights and sound system. An event here would be stellar so book now for the upcoming holiday season. The original “Bamboo Lounge” sign from the set of Goodfellas hangs over the bar.

Start with their very fresh oysters on the half shell or the unique fried clams. These light, crispy clams are served with mango soy sauce on a bed of butternut squash spaghetti ($10). Ahi tuna simply melts in your mouth, pepper-crusted and seared perfectly, with pickled ginger ($14). Crab cakes are sweet with delicate crabmeat, complimented by honey mustard sauce. Salads make a great starter too, with varieties including arugula, beet salad, tomato and mozzarella, Caesar, and the “Fuffi” salad with baby greens, baby carrots, French haricot verts, tomatoes, and sherry vinaigrette. All the appetizers and salads are generously sized for sharing and savoring along with your favorite vintage.

Entrees are elegantly served and priced within reach. From the substantial Astor burger made from ground brisket and chuck, topped with Cajun candied bacon and mozzarella, to the prime NY strip steak, you’ll get your meat perfectly cooked to order and served with beautiful sides. Their truffle French fries are addictive, as are the potatoes au gratin, which accompany the steak. I opted for the classically American fried chicken with a golden crust, garlic mashed potatoes, and baby bok choy. The large serving made for a great lunch the next day. Scottish salmon is rich and flavorful, roasted and served with saffron-infused risotto. Seared scallops are very fresh and tender, served with snap peas, sweet potato chips, and port wine sauce.

Native Astorian Tony Bennet is honored with a lasagna dish named after him. Tony Bennet lasagna is based on his mother’s recipe and is chock full of meat, slowly cooked in delicious tomato sauce. You’ll enjoy layer after layer of this home style lasagna. Groucho duck is Long Island duck breast with reduced port wine sauce, while Short Ribs Stroganoff is a rich, hearty dish served over egg noodles with mushrooms, brandy and veal stock.

Share a dessert such as their tender apple crepe with vanilla gelato, or blueberry bread pudding. The Corleone cannoli is a crunchy hit, and the chocolate lava cake will have you melting. Order and an after-dinner cordial and coffee and enjoy the rest of the show. Visit The Astor Room for dinner six nights a week from Tuesday to Sunday from 5pm to 11pm or for their fabulous brunch on Sundays from 11:30am to 3:30pm. Happy Hour specials run from 4pm to 7pm where you can enjoy some of their inventive drinks. Visit their website for menus, history, and great photos. Escape to the civility and pleasures of the Golden Age at The Astor Room!

34-12 36th Street  Astoria


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