>> Tuesday, June 10, 2008

105-07 Metropolitan Avenue
Forest Hills, NY 11375
(718) 268-9606

Coming home late one recent Friday night mean that some of the restaurants I wanted to hit up were either closed or about to close. Except for one rather busy exception. Pampas Argentinas was pretty close to full. Naturally, I had to know what was so good about the place. Or perhaps when you're the only game in town, everyone plays. Either way, I decided to check it out. With Bro, of course, since he's the only person I get to eat out with these days.

Bro and I decided to start with a a pitcher of sangria and a round of Chicken, Beef, and Vegetable Empanadas. All three were excellent, but the most excellent was, surprisingly, the vegetable (these would be the last vegetables I'd see this meal), followed by the beef and then the chicken. If you;ve had an empanada, you know how addicting these can be. Deep fried pockets of meat and/or vegetables. Toss on some hot sauce and you're in heaven. Then, I decided to try the Chicken Consomme, a brothy, creamy blend of pureed chicken and vegetables. It was decent, but not great. The soup was somewhat too salty and, while I certainly wouldn't complain about this specific dish, I don't see myself ordering it as a constant choice.

Pampas Argentinas is not cheap by any stretch of the imagination. The average entree is over $20 and finding one for under $20 is actually pretty hard, despite a rather large menu. My entree, which I will describe later broke past $30. By the way, the menu is quite extensive. I almost feel that it's unfair to review Pampas after only one visit... ah well.

Bro ordered the Salmon Pampas, a broiled and seasoned filet of salmon, served with lemon juice, eggplant, baby spinach, and a pesto sauce. I found the fish somewhat dry and bland. Bro pretty much mirrored my impression. He found it good, but not great. He wasn't asked how well he wanted the salmon cooked, and felt that it was a bit overcooked. The salmon came with a side salad that itself was quite large, and given the size of the entree, a lot of the food went to waste. No muy bien.

My choice was the Pampas Mixed Grill For One. This dish "for one" was easily big enough for two, maybe even three. It was huge, and like Bro's entree, much of it went to waste (this is my fault since I asked for the leftovers to be wrapped to go, and then completely forgot and walked out without it). The dish is served on a hot plate above burning coals and comes with five different meats and a side of french fries. I initially felt that this would give me a good insight into the other dish options, but in retrospect, maybe not. Anyway, it came with black sausage, sweetbreads, shortribs, skirt steak, sirloin brochette.

The black sausage, also known as blood pudding, is a bitter-sweet paste that you will either love or hate. Or maybe you're like me and were somewhere in the middle and feel that, while it might have been nice to try once, you just can't imagine eating it regularly. Sweetbreads, for those not in the know, are glands from the neck of cattle. They taste like a beefy chicken. While these two meats just weren't for me, the rest were quite good, with just the right about of searing, especially the skirt steak.

Three empanadas, a soup, and two entrees, and a pitcher of sangria broke $100 including tax and tip.



>> Sunday, June 1, 2008

110-80 Queens Boulevard
Forest Hills, NY 11375
(718) 520-7601

Frankie & Joey's Pizzeria sits on what I think must be one of the most valuable spots on Queens Boulevard: right next to the Midway multiplex. Every time people want a quick bit to eat without fearing that they'll be late for their overpriced show, they're likely to consider Frankie & Joey's. Who needs advertising... or even a website?

And that's exactly why I went. I got home from work (late, as usual) and decided "screw it, I'm seeing a movie". I literally hadn't eat all day and figured, what better time than now to binge on a variety of pizza slices?

Frankie & Joey's is pretty new, having taken over from a previous pizza joint a couple of years ago, and they're relatively new looking. Note the word "relatively". This isn't a hard task, given that their closest competition is uber-generic J&D over on Austin or the uber-in-need-of-renovation-and-a-mop Sorisi right on Continental.

I chose to try the Plain slice, the Chicken slice, and the Ziti slice. And here's my opinion on all three: they tasted fine. Yep. Fine. And while they won't win any awards, I'd order any of them again. If any of them tasted bad, I'd tear them up like Kleenex at a snot party.

See, New York pizza, which I will place Frankie & Joey's squarely in the category of, can be bad (read: godawful), fine (read: good), or damn good (read: damn good). Fine means that when it's there, you'll eat it, be happy, and not complain. Frankie & Joey's is good for what it is, good New York pizza to suck down a few slices of with a soda before a movie while BSing with friends.

From now on, this will be my go-to Pizza place when waiting for a movie or if I happen to be walking by. (but my go-to place when I order a bunch of pies for poker night will be Lillian on 68th)



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