The latest book obsession over at Q’Stoner is Queens: A Culinary Passport by Astoria-based food writer Andrea Lynn. The book is an awesome guide to eating in Queens, highlighting more than 40 diverse restaurants and food stands throughout the borough. There are also recipes inspired by Queens dishes, interviews with chefs and local foodies, and suggestions for under-the-radar grocery stores, markets and delis.
We spoke to Andrea about her experience writing the book, tips on navigating unfamiliar dining scenes, her top restaurant recommendations and more. You can purchase her book online on Amazon or in person at Astoria Bookshop.
Brownstoner Queens: What neighborhood do you live in and how did you end up there?
Andrea Lynn: I live in Astoria. My story for arriving into the neighborhood isn’t super original: I already knew a handful of people in Astoria, plus it was close to Manhattan for an easy work commute.
BQ: Where did the idea for a Queens-based food book originate?
AL: Well, I think Brooklyn gets a lot of hype for its trendy food scene, as does Manhattan, of course. Queens has such a fabulously diverse food culture which doesn’t get the merit it deserves. While specific Queens restaurants certainly get a bit of buzz, I felt the borough as whole doesn’t get the culinary love it deserves. So I had the idea to showcase the irresistible, ethnic food of Queens.
BQ: How would you describe the food scene in Queens right now? What was most important for you to capture in your book?
AL: I live off of 30th Avenue in Astoria, and it kind of blows my mind the amount of trendy restaurants and fancy cocktails in Astoria versus when I first moved here seven years ago. Same for Long Island City. But as far as the book, I wanted to capture a slice of the ethnic variety. A Culinary Passport isn’t just a catchy title but in Queens, you really feel like you’re traveling and experiencing so many other cultures.
Property Markets Group just paid $30,900,000 for the Long Island City Clock Tower, a sale that highly threatens the recent efforts to landmark the building. Criterion Group sold the property at a huge profit after just buying it in May for $15,000,000. Property Markets Group also owns the property adjacent to the tower, paying $46,300,000 for it earlier this month. A push to landmark the structure, designed by architect Morrell Smith, picked up this fall, with more than 800 supporters signing a landmarking petition.
But Christian Emanuel, who has helped lead the landmark effort, told The Real Deal that late last week commercial tenants in the clock tower were told to vacate within 180 days because of coming demolition. The group has already filed paperwork with the Landmarks Preservation Commission proposing the landmark, but no one knows if the LPC will actually move ahead with the designation process. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again — this building deserves to be saved, especially considering the rate at which buildings are now demolished in Long Island City.
Bridge and Tunnel Brewery, operating out of Maspeth since 2012, has signed a lease on a warehouse space in Ridgewood. Bridge and Tunnel was an extremely small endeavor in Maspeth — just a nano brewery brewing 1.5 barrel batches. The much-expanded space in Ridgewood will allow for more beer production as well as a bar serving those beers. Here’s a snippet from the announcement on Facebook: “With the nano system operating in all of 150 square feet, this new space will allow for more production, as well as a brewery that you all can actually come by to visit, have a beer, shoot the shite, etc.”
Beers made by Bridge and Tunnel include a dark German style wheat beer, a brown ale, a milk and oatmeal stout, and a chipotle porter. Currently you can drink them at places like MP Taverna, Open Door, The Queens Kickshaw and Claret (here’s the full list of bars). There’s no exact opening date for the brewery yet, but the owner has roots in Ridgewood and hopes to get things moving in the neighborhood in the next few months.
In 1928, much of Queens was still largely unpopulated and unbuilt-upon. Ridgewood, however, was an exception to the rule, due to its proximity to Brooklyn, and real estate developers hoped to capitalize on the cachet of the neighborhood. By then, Ridgewood was dominated by attached brick and brownstone houses, as well as blocks of handsome, yellow-bricked apartments constructed by developer Gustave X. Mathews. He built from materials created in the Staten Island kilns of Balthazar Kreischer.
In that year, the developers Realty Associates purchased 70 acres in a neighborhood then labeled as “North Ridgewood” but now a part of northern Maspeth roughly defined by Maurice Avenue, 64th Street, Grand Avenue and 74th Street. Builder John Aylmer set to work constructing two and six-family homes in the newly-named Ridgewood Plateau, so named for its location atop one of Queens’ higher hills.
A recent Daily News article profiles the “humble Queens nabe” of Elmhurst, which has recently seen an onslaught of new development. The News mainly focuses on the residential conversion of the St. Johns Hospital complex, located across from the Queens Center Mall. When construction wraps on Queens Pointe, as it’s called, there will be 150 luxury rental apartments, several stories of retail and a 250-car parking garage. According to the article, “The developers estimate that they will be able to achieve rents of more than $45 a foot per year for the units, meaning a one-bedroom pad would likely go for over $2,500 a month.” (Luxury rentals at Elm East, on Broadway, leased quickly with rents topping $40 a foot.)
There are more developments slated for the neighborhood: a 69-unit condo tower at 70-32 Queens Boulevard, between 70th and 72nd Streets, and a six-story, 130-unit development for the long-empty site across from East Elm, also off Broadway. To be called West Elm, it’ll boast a private health club, an outdoor roof deck and 24-hour doorman. (Check out an exterior rendering after the jump.) There’s also the recent massive sale of the parking lot behind the Queens Place Mall.
With all that development, sales and rental prices are unsurprisingly rising in the neighborhood, which is better known for its low-rise housing stock. The median price for an apartment comes in at $338,500 — that’s compared to $288,500 in 2011. And an average apartment rents for $1,877 a month, compared to $1,350 in 2011.
If you’re anything like the average American, by the time that Friday rolls around, you are going to have to work off a few holiday pounds. Never fear, Brownstoner Queens come to the rescue with a recipe for edgy adventure in Western Queens.
Your first stop is Queens Plaza. That’s where you’ll find the combined pedestrian and bicycle lanes for the Queensboro Bridge, at the intersection of Crescent Street and Queens Plaza North. Personally, I’m a walker, but you this path works for bikes too. You’re going to want to cross the bridge, heading for Manhattan. One thing to keep in mind is how early the sun sets this time of year – which is around 4:30 in the afternoon this week.
I used to work in Long Island City, as production manager to a now defunct bedding and home furnishings company. We had our sewing and shipping facilities in a factory building near the Silvercup Studios. Whenever I had the opportunity, I would walk around the neighborhood on my lunch hour and see what I could see. Long Island City was hardly the new outpost of cool at the time, although if you were paying attention, you could see that it was coming. This was around 1998-99.
PS 1 had recently opened, (pre-MOMA) and work was being done on the platforms of the 7 train. They were also spiffing up the old Court House. If you stood where you could see the towers of Manhattan across the river, it was pretty clear that Long Island City’s days as a forgotten backwater were numbered. The harbinger of change, Citibank, had been there for several years at that point, although the plaza around it was still pretty deserted. Still, it would only be a matter of time. This part of Queens was just too tantalizingly close to Manhattan.
One day, on one of my wandering walks, I came upon this block. I lived in Bedford Stuyvesant at that time, surrounded by brownstones. I lived in a brownstone. Was this Queens? Land of 20th century housing? (Ok, I didn’t know much back then.) Where did this block come from? How did it survive? The houses were in pretty great shape, as a group, and were made of brick and, what was that? Marble? Who built marble houses? What was the story here? This block was an architectural miracle. (more…)
Remember: Whatever happens under the mistletoe, stays under the mistletoe. As part of the 27th Annual Holiday Historic House Tour, seven local landmarks will offer seasonal refreshments, organize time-honored activities, and provide glimpses of Christmas celebrations from as far back as the 17th century on Sunday, December 7th. Visitors will be able to check out any (or all) of the venues — Kingsland Homestead; Voelker Orth Museum; Lewis H. Latimer House Museum; Friends Meeting House; Flushing Town Hall; Bowne House; and Louis Armstrong House Museum — and a van will continuously run between sites from 1 pm to 5 pm.
After the jump, more information on each participating venue and its tour plans… (more…)
There are only 97 units in the building, with one bedrooms starting from $455,000, two bedrooms from $790,000 and three bedrooms from $1,400,000. So far the apartments are selling at ask, but the three-bedroom units (there are three of them) haven’t been spoken for yet. Building amenities include a gym, outdoor terrace, parking garage and concierge.
On Friday, the Transportation Alternatives Queens Volunteer Committee announced “a huge win on Queens Boulevard.” The DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg announced that the new 25 mph speed limit — just enacted in New York City — will also apply to Queens Boulevard, also known as the Boulevard of Death. Sunnyside Post reports that the new speed limit should be enacted by the end of this year. Queens Boulevard was originally not included in the speed reduction, which started up on November 7th, because it’s designed to accommodate more cars at faster speeds. But the DOT has made the decision to slow the notoriously dangerous thoroughfare down, and it’s likely many more safety improvements are coming soon.