>> Friday, July 24, 2009

107-04 70th Road
Forest Hills, NY 11375
(718) 544-2433

UPDATED ON 4/5/15 and 2/22/11 AT BOTTOM.

My friend Speeds, finding herself in Queens one evening, shuffled over to bid me hello and grab some dinner. She asked if there was anywhere in specific I wanted to go, and the first place to cross my mind was the newest addition to the Forest Hills dining scene, the highly anticipated Aged. Aged is an American restaurant with a focus (not an exclusivity) on steaks and seafood. It had outdoor seating when it opened a month ago, but this has since vanished. Too bad. I would have come earlier had it remained. The area needs more outdoor restaurants, so hopefully, it will return.

Short user reviews on Yelp have been hot and cold, to say the least. The people who love it, LOVE it and the people who hate it HATE it. I'll say up front that I like Aged, but especially for the price, there is room for improvement.

The interior, with it's faux-rustic chairs and chandeliers, tries to get you into the spirit of eating in a woodsy lodge somewhere in Coloradoland. The menu is full of traditional American dishes without the culinary school flair for nouveaux-artsyness. I think this style fits well here in FoHi, but I say this with some disappointment. I'd like to see a restaurant succeed here while being able to push the envelope.

If Aged is far from trendy, then it's similarly far from cheap. The average appetizer will run you about $14, with the average entree coming in at ten dollars more. We skipped the drinks, so I can't speak for either the wines or cocktails, but I think that $10 or so per glass would be a reasonable guess. Given that the cost is on the high end, I was disappointed with the rolls, which were generic and served with cheap butter in little packets. I would have expected a 2-inch by 2-inch slab of butter on a small plate.

Speeds and I shared two appetizers. The first to come was the Calamari Fritti, a dish we've all had a thousand times if we've had it once. Fried calamari will always play second fiddle to grilled calamari, but this was very good fried calamari. The crust was crispy, the squid itself tender. No complaints here. Second to come (we ordered the appetizers about ten minutes apart from each other) was the Jumbo Lump Crab Cake, which was large and impressive. The crab seemed fresh, not fake, and there was almost no breading, a sign of cheap, frozen crap. The cake sat on a remoulade sauce, which was good, but the chef went overboard with it. Half as much would be appreciated. The seaweed it was served under was quite good.

Speeds' entree was the Tilapia Livornese, a tilapia fillet with artichokes, capers, olives, tomatoes, red peppers and shallots. I wasn't expecting much, given that tilapia is so easy to render bland and worthless, but this was very very good. I highly recommend it to your non-red meat eating friends. Especially if they like things with a little bit of sour kick. My choice was the 14 Ounce Hanger Steak, with mashed potatoes and mixed steamed vegetables, which was, frankly, not as good. I ordered it medium rare, but it came closer to medium. Fine, I can live with that. The mashed potatoes were okay, but boring. The vegetables were similarly boring, only way way way more so. I would have preferred french fries. Aged offers sauces, should you like one, and I asked to try two. The Bearnaise and the House Made Steak Sauce. Neither were very good, to be honest, but the Bearnaise was better. The steak sauce was like a very sharp A1. My advice here is to scrap the sauce options and offer Worcestershire.

In conclusion, the meal was overall pretty good, though for a steak house (sorta) my steak was a little weak. I'm glad Aged is here and I plan to return for a follow-up.

Our two appetizers and two entrees cost around $90 with tax and tip.

UPDATE 2/22/11:Last night, Pike and I showed up at Aged for dinner. I haven't been here in a long time, save for brunch, and since then the message boards have been aglow with the haters. Of course, that's expected. Nine times out of ten, if you want to know whether or not a restaurant is any good, you look in the window. If it's packed, then it's a pretty good sign. Not a perfect system, I'll agree, but one we all use by and large. Aged has never had that problem and while not standing room only, there was a good crowd for a Monday.

Anyway, so Pike and I split two appetizers, the Shrimp Cocktail and a half dozen Oysters. The shrimp were huge. Super jumbo would be a good word. You get four. The oysters were somewhat smaller than the ones I've had in the past, on average, but not salty and not sandy. We enjoyed both quite a bit. Pike ordered the 14oz Filet Mignon and a side of sauteed spinach. It's about four inches thick and was cooked the way it should be. Medium rare. Is this the same steak you'd get at Peter Luger? No. But no such a comparison would be a legitimate one. I ordered the Herb Encrusted Chicken Breast, which came with juilenned vegetables and a a creamy lentil spread over a tart lemongrass cream sauce. I was extremely happy with this choice. The chicken was tender, the sauce was superb, and it worked extremely well with the mashed lentils... especially surprising since nothing works well with mashed lentils. I also ordered a side of steamed asparagus, which was, you know, steamed asparagus.

Thing is, the meal wasn't cheap. These four dishes, plus two sodas (no liquor) and two coffees, plus tax and tip was $125. Long story short, Aged did well last night and I'm sure to recommend them, but expect to pay a pretty penny for it.

UPDATE 4/5/15:
I just returned from dinner at Aged. The food was fine. But good God. Why are they playing the radio through the speakers? When I walked in, it was a talk radio show. I was a hair away from asking them to do something about it when music came on. 95.5 WPLJ. Ugh. Great. So I got to listen to pop music and ads for Resorts World Casino over my steak. Such class. Pathetic. If this is where Aged management has gone, it won't be long before they close.



>> Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Hello Readers,

I've gotten a few emails from people asking me to post more often, and I am apologizing for not posting all too frequently... but hey, I post more often than the Queens Central and Forest Hills 72 guys do, so that has to count for something, right?

Anyway, I'm writing this specific post asking you guys to make comments. I'm one person (occasionally I bring a compadre) and these are all my simple opinions based on the meals I had at the time that I went. If you went there and agree, or disagree, or have an experience you want to share, please share it. Just be civil. We're Forest Hills, after all. We have class.

Also, feel free to make recommendations to new places on my Facebook page. That's why it's there.




>> Wednesday, July 15, 2009

107-06 71st Road
Forest Hills, NY 11375
(718) 261-1349

Broadway Bakery, FoHi's 24-hour destination for generic bread and pizza, closed it's Continental location to move one block away into a nice renovated space. Then it closed for good about six hours later. In it's place has come Pasticceria Amore, a small but so far very good Italian pastry shop. Forest Hills has been too long without decent, upscale competition for Martha's (I include Fay Da in that statement), and now they it's here. It's not going to win for seating, as it has almost none, but it'll certainly give Martha's a run for her money with pies and cake.

Unknowingly, Pasticceria Amore made the job of reviewing them way easier, way cheaper, and way more waistline-friendly by having half of their dessert menu come in "mini" sizes. So I ordered all of them, plus some Rainbow Cookies, which no Italian pastry shop can dare do without. They were delicious. The chocolate wasn't too dark, they had the right amount of jam, and they were perfectly moist. Ahh, heaven. I'm eating one now.

The Mixed Fruit Tart, with strawberry, kiwi and tangerine, and the Strawberry Tart (no kiwi or tangerine) came with this perfectly sweetened crust that was just dry enough to have a bit of crumble, but not so much to cause any actual crumbs. I preferred the regular strawberry to the mixed fruit, which probably is because I prefer my tarts with raspberry and blackberry (a la Manhattan's Tisserie) rather than kiwi.

Speaking of raspberry, I next dug my teeth into the Raspberry Mousse, which was very good even though I'm not much of a mousse person. It was certainly better with the white chocolate cap that it had than it would have been without it. The Hazelnut Mousse was just about perfect, though it was almost impossible to pick up without it becoming soup in my hand. I was far less impressed with the Mango Mousse, which was bland, gelatinous and almost fake-tasting. As for the Chocolate Mousse, I ordered it in spite of the fact that I don't like chocolate mousses. This one didn't change my mind, but I think that those of you out there who like their mousses chocolatey will probably like this one, too.

Starting to get full and wired from the sugar, I dove into the Eclair and the Puff Pastry, which is pretty much an eclair without the chocolate coating. Both were very good. The cream was sweet but not too much so, the dough was soft but firm. Continuing my journey down the traditional path, I bit into the Vanilla Cannoli and then into the Chocolate Cannoli. They weren't bad, but I've had better cannoli. In the vanilla cannoli, the filling was too hard and the shell was too moist. Meanwhile, in the chocolate on the chocolate cannoli was too overwhelming and the shell was too hard.

The final stretch of my journey towards diabetes consisted of the pine nut coated Pignoli, which I a first didn't like, but which grew on me, and the cherry topped, cream filled Rum Baba, which never did. It was like eating a rum-soaked sponge and while I know that that's the whole point of those mega-moist desserts, they just don't do it for me.

In order to get some interior photos without being too conspicuous, I returned a few days later and ordered a French Napoleon Cake. This was incredible. The best of the menu so far. Light cream, moist pastry. The only downside was that the candy/frosting top was a bit stiff and hard to break through, especially with the plastic fork I was given to eat with. Speaking of which, since I was eating inside, the plastic fork, coupled with the paper plate was unfortunately cheap.

Each mini costs $1.25, the rainbow cookies were $15 per pound. The napoleon slice was about $4.



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