04/22/14 12:30pm

HIBINO LIC tofu_700

Welcome to the Q’Stoner food feature, Signature Dish! Once a week we check in with Queens restaurants and ask the owners about the all-time favorite dishes they serve. If you know of a dish you’d like to see featured here, please email emily@brownstoner.com.

The Spot: Hibino LIC, 10-70 Jackson Avenue, Long Island City.

The Deal: This year the successful Cobble Hill restaurant Hibino opened its second location in Long Island City. The Japanese restaurant specializes in a rotating menu of daily specials as well as sushi.

After seven years in Brooklyn, Hibano searched for a new location, eventually settling on the 26-seat spot near the Vernon stop on the 7. Because the Queens location is still so new, the liquor license is still in the works, but the owners expect sake to be served by no later than the end of May.

The Dish: With a rotating menu of rotating daily specials, Obanzi, choosing a representative dish at Hibino LIC can be difficult. There is one consistent menu item though: the homemade tofu, served in a custom yogurt jar printed in Japan.

“Our fresh made tofu, served either cold or warm, is a really simple dish that demonstrates the delicate texture and subtle fresh soy flavors of the tofu,” says Hinata, the restaurant’s manager, who has worked at both locations.

This isn’t store-bought tofu — it’s enough to make a believer out of the most enthusiastic carnivore.

04/21/14 11:00am


In its own way, the area surrounding Dutch Kills is actually quite a lovely place – as storied industrial centers which have seen better days go. Dutch Kills is a Queens tributary of that languid cautionary tale known as the Newtown Creek, and has been isolated for several seasons from maritime utility by failing railway bridges and a changing industrial landscape.

I’m down here a lot of course, and have introduced you to the Borden Avenue Bridge and the Dutch Kills Barge Turning Basin in prior posts. Today, it’s the seldom mentioned Hunters Point Avenue Bridge that gets the spotlight.

From nyc.gov:

Hunters Point Avenue is a two-lane local City street in Queens. Hunters Point Avenue is oriented east-west and extends from 21st Street to the Long Island Expressway/Brooklyn Queens Expressway interchange in Queens. The avenue is parallel to and approximately one block south of the Long Island Expressway. The Hunters Point Bridge over Dutch Kills is situated between 27th Street and 30th Street in the Long Island City section of Queens, and is four blocks upstream of the Borden Avenue Bridge. It is a bascule bridge with a span of 21.8m. The general appearance of the bridge has been significantly changed since it was first opened in 1910. The bridge provides a channel with a horizontal clearance of 18.3m and a vertical clearance, in the closed position, of 2.4m at MHW and 4.0m at MLW. The bridge structure carries a two-lane, two-way vehicular roadway with sidewalks on either side. The roadway width is 11.0m, while the sidewalks are 1.8m wide. The width of the approach roadways vary from the width of the bridge roadway. The west approach and east approach roadways are 13.4m and 9.1m, respectively.

The first bridge at this site, a wooden structure, was replaced by an iron bridge in 1874. That bridge was permanently closed in 1907 due to movement of the west abutment, which prevented the draw from closing. It was replaced in 1910 by a double-leaf bascule bridge, designed by the Scherzer Rolling Lift Bridge Company. The bridge was rebuilt in the early 1980′s as a single-leaf bascule, incorporating the foundations of the previous bridge.


Seldom commented, the Hunters Point Avenue Bridge segments Dutch Kills neatly, and has done so for better than a century now. The marshes and streams which once typified the area, before the advance of railroad and the vast agglutination of industry, are long gone – relegated to subterranean sewers and masonry clad spillways. A century ago – the Hunters Point Avenue Bridge (and its predecessors) allowed egress between the central business district of Long Island City and the rest of western Queens.

Hey, that’s the Degnon Terminal back there, which is found along Thomson Avenue nearby the Sunnyside Yards.


04/16/14 1:00pm

Joseph McElligott

Queens people never get tired of diversity. This Saturday, the New York Irish Center will host A Celebratory Feast of Irish and World Culture, a night that will include everything from poetry to string music to acting by a former boxer. The performers are part of Artists Without Walls, a troupe dedicated to uniting creative types from all genres to inspire each other…and then inspire their audiences. Co-founder Niamh Hyland (below), a singer/songwriter from the Emerald Isle, headlines the show with classical violinist Annette Homann, Nigerian spoken word artist Koro Koroye (above), TV and film actor Jack O’Connell, singer/songwriter Michael Brunnock and champion boxer-turned-actor John Duddy.

Details: Artists Without Walls: A Celebratory Feast of Irish and World Culture, New York Irish Center, 10-40 Jackson Avenue, Long Island City, April 26th, 7:30 pm, cocktail hour before performances, $22/$11 for seniors, students and the unemployed.


Top photo: Joseph McElligott; bottom photo: Artists Without Walls

04/07/14 1:00pm


Amanda Loulaki flirts with fragmented time, imagery, empty space, non-linear narrative and the extremities of a movement’s physicality. On Wednesday, the Crete-born choreographer kicks off a four-night run of her newest show, FORESTED, at the Chocolate Factory Theater in Long Island City. Loulaki, a 1994 Fulbright Scholarship winner, will present a series of vignettes that present the body as a container of history… and the performance space as a container of the body. A premiere, FORESTED is the second piece of a trilogy that explores how an audience’s gaze can be directed in performance, and how that gaze affects the experience of time.

Details: FORESTED, The Chocolate Factory Theater, 5-49 49th Avenue, Long Island City, April 9 through April 12th, nightly at 8 pm, $15.


Photos: Joe Levasseur

04/04/14 1:00pm


Western Queens got talent! Literary talent, that is. With a creativity incubator, a live-reading circuit, two new bookstores (Enigma and Astoria), and even a journal dedicated to fiction, the borough’s “word scene” is booming. On April 12th, the prose grows with World of Words: Queens at the LaGuardia Performing Arts Center. Audrey Dimola (below), an “editorial acrobat” who is the event’s host, informs that there will be poetry, storytelling, music, dance, video, drama, spoken word, translation and live drawing of the performances. She also promises wit, rawness, passion, humor, honesty… and a few surprises.

Details: World of Words: Queens, Little Theatre at LaGuardia Performing Arts Center, 31-10 Thomson Avenue, Long Island City, April 12th, 3 pm to 5:30 pm, $10.


Photos: Audrey Dimola

03/25/14 12:30pm

mushroom stroganoff_700

Welcome to the Q’Stoner food feature, Signature Dish! Once a week we check in with Queens restaurants and ask the owners about the all-time favorite dishes they serve. If you know of a dish you’d like to see featured here, please email emily@brownstoner.com.

The Spot: Bear Restaurant, 12-14 31st Avenue, Long Island City.

The Deal: Bear Restaurant was opened by siblings Natasha and Sasha Pogrebinsky and serves the Eastern European cuisine of their childhood, with a local twist. Sasha mixes and develops cocktails while Natasha runs the kitchen.

“Traditions and culture are what drives the design of our menu, which changes frequently based on what is fresh and available at the local farmer’s markets,” says Natasha.

The cash-only restaurant has drawn the attention of the New York Times and Michelin Guides.

The Dish: When at Bear, try the as-seen-on-TV dish of mushroom stroganoff. Natasha prepared a variation of the dish when competing on Food Network’s Chopped (Season 16, Episode 14), and it has been a customer favorite since debuting on the menu.

The mushroom stew is made daily and combines stewed mushrooms, caramelized onions, fresh herbs and finished with sunflower and truffle butter. It’s then served over house-made pasta, which is cut by hand.

“Steeped in tradition, culture and history, Bear tries to transcend time by reinventing this age-old recipe from Eastern Europe and bring it into a more comfortable, modern and relaxed feel of the Bear dining room,” Natasha says.

For a refreshing drink, try Sasha’s St. Dill Martini, a sophisticated twist on the ubiquitous pickleback: a vodka and pickle martini.

03/20/14 11:00am


As mentioned, I spend an atrocious amount of time studying century-old publications and journals found on Google Books. These periodicals, both trade and municipal in nature, often discuss the origins of the Newtown Creek as it exists today.

At the beginning of the 20th century, when the Creek was at its arguable worst (environmentally speaking), there was a popular sentiment that engineering could fix all of its problems.

Hindsight suggests that they just made things worse, of course, but there’s the human condition for you. Pictured above is the Greenpoint Avenue Bridge in modernity, while below is a shot of the 1910 version. In both shots, Brooklyn is on the left and Queens on the right.


- photo from Engineering magazine, Volume 38, 1910 — courtesy Google Books

This is the bridge that burned away in the 1919 Locust Hill Oil Refinery disaster, a swing bridge which is not altogether dissimilar to the relict Grand Street Bridge found further up the Creek.

I’ve done a few Q’stoner posts on the environs around the modern structure – the Tidewater Building, the nearby SimsMetal Yard, a former Standard Oil gas station, even the old Van Iderstine properties.

Whenever such “Now and Then” shots come into my hands, especially images which are considered to be in the public domain, they will be eagerly shared.

Newtown Creek Alliance Historian Mitch Waxman lives in Astoria and blogs at Newtown Pentacle.

03/19/14 1:00pm


She was a broadcast journalist, newspaper columnist, TV producer, book reviewer, teacher, writer and a living contradiction. Nuala O’Faolain was heterosexual, but her longest romantic relationship was with a lesbian activist. She was an ardent feminist, but she adored her neglectful, distant father. In the early 2000s, she engrossed her native country by detailing her loveless, impoverished childhood in the male-dominant Ireland of the 1940s and 1950s in her memoir Are You Somebody? Then, she bewitched the Emerald Isle again when she turned to her friend, radio host Marian Finucane, to talk frankly about her cancer and impending death in 2012. On Friday, the New York Irish Center will screen a documentary on O’Faolin’s life by director Patrick Farrelly, who will attend and participate in a Q&A session.

Details: Nuala, New York Irish Center, 10-40 Jackson Avenue, Long Island City, March 21st, 7:30 pm, $11/$6 students, seniors, unemployed.

Photo: Nuala O’Faolain

03/18/14 12:30pm

Welcome to the Q’Stoner food feature, Signature Dish! Once a week we check in with Queens restaurants and ask the owners about the all-time favorite dishes they serve. If you know of a dish you’d like to see featured here, please email emily@brownstoner.com.


The Spot: The Baroness, 41-26 Crescent Street, Long Island City.

The Deal: The Baroness Bar exploded – almost literally – in a vastly underserved area of Queens dining landscape. The craft beer and wine bar has drawn the attention of the city’s bloggers by teaching customers “the art of Sabrage a Champagne,” or how to open a bottle of champagne with a saber. In a cordoned-off area of a bar, patrons who purchase a bottle of champagne are handed a saber and told to slide it down the bottle hard and fast to make the cork pop off. The bar also offers some perfect bar nibbles of cheeses, meats, and flatbreads.


The Dish: The flatbreads have quickly become a popular accompaniment to the specialty wines and beers. Out of the regular selection of seven pizzas – including a rotating special – one has stood out above the rest: the Som’bitch. The house-made crust is dusted with fennel and topped with chorizo, hot dry milanos, spicy tasso ham, and the homemade spicy sauce and blistering mozerella.

“It is definitely set apart from your traditional ‘pizzas,’ considering the level of quality of the ingredients. It is not reinventing the wheel ‑- more like making it work better than others,” says owner Kyle Radzyminski.

Try with caution. The name was chosen for a reason.

03/14/14 1:00pm


On March 13, 1964, Kitty Genovese was stabbed to death near the Kew Gardens apartment building where she lived. At first, the murder didn’t receive much media attention, but 13 days later, The New York Times ran an article with the headline: “Thirty-Seven Who Saw Murder Didn’t Call the Police.” (A later reproduction put the number at 38.) The witnesses’ alleged indifference became a symbol of the callousness of the era and led to psychological investigation of the social phenomenon now known as “Genovese syndrome” or “bystander effect.” This Saturday, the Greater Astoria Historical Society will mark the 50th anniversary of this 28-year-0ld bar manager’s killing with a roundtable discussion about the truths, myths, lies and exaggerations of this case.

Details: History Roundtable: Kitty GenoveseGreater Astoria Historical Society, Quinn Building, 35-20 Broadway, 4th Floor, Long Island City, $5.

Photo: KittyGenoveseBook/FB