Restaurant reviews: New Queens restaurants

Queens has long been known for cheap international food, but a recent wave of eateries signals fresh ambitions for the borough. We checked in on some of the buzziest newcomers and found varying results.

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  • Photograph: Donald Yip

  • Photograph: Donald Yip

  • Photograph: Donald Yip

  • Photograph: Donald Yip

  • Photograph: Donald Yip

  • Photograph: Donald Yip

Photograph: Donald Yip


The Queens Kickshaw

Before couple Ben Sandler (a former front-of-house staffer at Nobu 57) and Jennifer Lim opened this airy caf, it was hard to find a serious cup of joe in the nabe. That all changed when they unpacked their Hario V60 drip cones and a La Marzocco Strada espresso machine in March—the place has been humming ever since. The focus here is tight: Kickshaw offers mainly coffee and grilled cheese. The beverage, brewed with beans from Tarrytown, New York's Coffee Labs Roasters, may not be prepared with the same precision as the pour-over mugs at Manhattan's finest coffeeshops and the latte art sometimes betrays an unsteady hand, but there's no coffee-snob tude here either. The java is served with an earnest smile, seating is plentiful, and the beans are still top-notch. Of the fancy grilled-cheese choices, the simplest riffs are best: one morning offering features soft egg folded with ricotta, a Gruyre crisp and maple hot sauce between two thick, buttery slices of brioche. The melt-and-tomato-soup combo also satisfies: Funky cheddar plays off mild, gooey mozzarella, and the accompanying tomato soup provides an acidic contrast. But the simple pleasure of bread and melted cheese is obscured by baroque ingredients in some of the more creative options, such as a Gruyre on rye—the nutty cheese is overwhelmed by pickled and caramelized onions, plus piquant whole-grain mustard. Quibbles aside, this coffeeshop would make a damn fine addition to any 'hood. 40-17 Broadway between Steinway and 41st Sts, Astoria (718-777-0913)

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