>> Friday, May 1, 2009

108-02 72nd Avenue
Forest Hills, NY 11375
(718) 263-5700

Damn. Network has such amazing potential. For starters, it has the hottest staff of all time. How hot? This is me: "Dontlookatthewaitress dontlookatthewaitress dontlookatthewaitress." The upstairs dining room is a mishmash of tables and decorations (lights, candles, ivy, drapery, like a gypsy tent) that works and feels light and fun and unpretentious. There's this aura that like you could be, should be, a regular here. The bar, which is what most of what network is about, is not for the beer connoisseur. No taps, only bottles. You drink here not to find a new micro-brew, but to bullshit with friends.

Downstairs is a could-be-totally-awesome lounge. Toss in some hookahs and some martinis and you've got this perfectly chill lounge. Throw on some bassy jazz and a a few rounds of tequila aphrodisiacs and it's a get-in-the-mood-for-panties-flyin'-luv party zone. But it goes mostly unused, draped in sheets like Ms. Havesham's den.

The thing is, snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, Network is a totally half-assed effort. Not having a beer tap is one thing, but at least replace it with a sweet cocktail menu or thick wine list. The food is both mediocre and all over the map. And by map, I mean the kind Mercator used to make. The appetizers are both standard bar food (mozzarella sticks) and Mediterranean (Baba Ganoush). Wraps and burgers and pitas and salads are available if you want something small and cheap. But when we get to the main dishes, it becomes Italian pasta (Rigatone Florentina), with a random assortment of American (Cajun Chicken) and Mediterranean entrees (Pasulsj Ne Tave). I call this a Mediterranean restaurant simply out of plurality. Service was slow. It took way too long to unscrew the cap of a beer bottle and our dinners arrived before our utensils did. We got one glass of water. They don't have business cards and when we asked for one, we got a note...

Bro and I ventured here on a Friday night and they were about half full. We were greeted and seated by the aforementioned ultra-hot waitress. Some attractive, young couples peppered the tables along with a bunch of women in their low 30s pounding back wine, having a girls' night out. More than one sketchy loner sat silently staring into space. The bar was entirely middle aged, all laughing loudly and having a ball yakking it up with another hottie behind the bar. Network is definitely a place where anyone, regardless of age, can feel welcome. There are a precious few venues that are all-encompassing and I'm about to make fun of it. The downstairs lounge was a ghost town, save another pretty and pretty lonely bartender.

We ordered a few beers and an entree each. Both were... food. I ordered the Lemon Chicken, a breast of chicken in a lemon and white wine sauce. Not bad. Pretty tender and not too sour, but it was served with generic yellow rice and generic mixed vegetables. It was decent and, at $14, I didn't feel like I was ripped off. Bro ordered the Shish Kebab, chunks of skewered beef with a small salad and side of the same rice. Dry as a bone, he commented that the best part was the rice. I don't think he finished it.

It's like this. I would really like Network to be more than just decent. We have enough of those places here already. I think that Network should be awesome. Focusing on their Mediterranean menu and getting rid of the bar food would be a good start. Putiing together a real cocktail list (preferably one where every drink does not end in "tini") and a real wine list (Kendall-Jackson and Yellow Tail need not apply). This is not to say that I think Network should become pretentious, but God damn, if Park Slope and Carroll Gardens can have great little nook-and-cranny type places where you can get a great drink and a great meal and not blow your week's pay doing so then Forest Hills sure as hell can, too. I want to go here with my friends and have them craving to return. I want to go downstairs and find people there. I want a staff where I don't have to fire off a flare to get their attention. I want the sketchy loner guys to find a friend or two. I want to get here and not want to leave. At the very least, it would be nice to have a fork.

Come on Network. I believe in you.

Entrees (including the pasta) start at $10 and go up to $20. Budweiser is $5 per bottle.

(ha ha. seriously?)


KJAM May 1, 2009 at 3:14 PM  

what a shame. i've had high hopes for this place ever since I saw it coming up... too bad.

Anonymous,  January 17, 2010 at 12:43 PM  

It's a great place just as it is. if you don't like it, go somewhere else.

Jon Parker January 17, 2010 at 5:37 PM  

Thanks Anonymous. I appreciate the love.

S,  April 16, 2010 at 1:32 PM  

I went here with my wife about 6 or 7 years ago and boy did we regret it! We got pulled in by what seemed to be a charming little place for dinner. The food was horrible and the service was terrible too! Thought it would be closed within a year and it's still open all this time later. Must be some "connections" that keep this lame duck floating.
And Anonymous why don't you worry about not crashing daddy's BMW you sure don't pay for it.

Anonymous,  February 21, 2012 at 8:43 AM  

The Network Cafe is a disgusting place for local drunks, hip hop want to be's & pot heads hang out. Go across street to Irish cottage for a more pleasant crowd, excellent food & beers on tap.

Anonymous,  July 15, 2012 at 9:23 PM  

Went there with my girlfriend a couple of weeks ago. The food was cheap and horrible, service sucked but the drinks where ok. Overall I'd opt for the joint across the street "Irish Cottage" next time.

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