Convenience is important. When leaving the island of Manhattan, knowing the destination won’t be too out of the way is key to actually getting you on the subway and leaving the comfort of your home borough. I would never miss Karina’s birthday brunch, but realizing the restaurant was just off the Astoria Blvd stop on the N line made me much more comfortable making my first trip to Astoria. Not only is it close to the subway, The Sparrow Tavern is directly across the street from the beer garden. Talk about convenient.
I started off brunch with a bloody mary that was made with smoked chipotle peppers. I like spicy bloodies, specifically when that spice is peppery vs. horseradishy. Using chipotles to add the spice was a nice change from the usual black pepper. Once we all had our brunch cocktails, it was app time. Matt assumed the role of host and ordered a couple chocolate croissants and mac and cheese for the table. The mac and cheese was nice and cheesy with a good crust on top. Good, but not the standout. I really enjoyed the croissants. Instead of a typical pain au chocolat that’s filled with thick ganache, this was a regular, buttery croissant that was split in half, grilled, and then lightly gifted with a swipe of chocolate. Grilling them made a huge difference. It’s such a simple change but gave it a whole new texture and taste. If I host a brunch, these will definitely make an appearance. For my entrée I ordered the egg and brie sandwich with speck on country bread. The egg oozed on my fingers and since I was with friends I had no qualms about just licking it right off. Just a tad more brie would have made it perfect…though it was a solid breakfast sandwich just as it was.
If you’re planning to hit up the beer garden, you’re going to want some food to soak up the booze. I highly recommend this over some lame pretzel with mustard. The food is good and cheap. We all had about two drinks, shared appetizers, entrées, and shared desserts and the total for our group of eight was only $25 per person.
Over six years in NYC and I finally made it to Astoria. This seems like a milestone event. Good news for the borough of Queens: my first experience was a good one so I’ll be back!