I rarely prefer to go to a newly opened restaurant. Having been in the industry for so long, I do know that it takes time to fine tune things a bit once doors open and I feel it unfair to subconsciously rank a place in my mind before giving it a chance to get through the beta stage.
I was invited to Queensborough to check things out in an informal setting where I had a chance to chat with my bartender, the chef (Taylor Houseman), and partner (Mike Vizcarra). The new spot is beautiful and has kept much of the charm of the old building. OH THE STORIES that must be trapped in these walls!
It can be tricky finding the location’s entrances, as there are two. The lounge entrance is on Fifth Avenue and the restaurant entrance is next door to the William Penn on F Street. The high ceilings, marble and gold touches and beautifully lit bar are stunning. The design features alone make you covet the details for your own home.
To be transparent, I was really excited to go check things out at Queensborough because I’ve worked with these guys before. I handled PR for COMÚN & their chef, Chad White (TOP CHEF contestant) when he was partnered with Queensborough partner Shane Brennan. The new Queensborough venture includes Mike Vizcarra who, along with Queensborough chef Taylor Houseman, also worked at COMÚN. I was curious to see what goodness they had created.
Though the lounge was not open, Partner Mike Vizcarra gave me a little tour below ground. With the absence of the music, light shows, chatter of people and clamoring of glassware, one could stand in near silence and feel the “oldness” of the underground space that extended under the above restaurant, old hotel lobby and brick sidewalk at the corner of Fifth & F. Details like the old elevator, bare brick walls and sunken bar floor make for a very special place. I’m told that in time, Queensborough will be adding live Jazz entertainment to the line up. I can see it and can’t wait!
Currently, musical talents are your typical expectations of DJ’s but what a place to play! The DJ area is a pretty good size here… for the entourage I suppose. 😉
EAT & DRINK
I was curious to find out how young chef, Taylor Houseman would interpret food for the new concept and I was pleasantly surprised. Remember, I said I stopped in for an informal chat? Well, chatting means one might also snack and imbibe simultaneously, which I did.
Taylor sent out a lovely cheese board to start that included a Red Dragon Cheddar, Sheeplehorn Swiss and a Beamster Gouda that complemented the fun accoutrements such as the seasoned popcorn, nuts and compotes. The Albondigas, made of smoked pig head meatballs was well seasoned, moist and soft. A nice addition to the plates I shared with my host was the Chicken Board. The chicken board was a simple display of moist, brined chicken slices, house-made pickled vegetables, potatoes and more. The menu certainly lends itself for groups to share and enjoy a bit of everything.
My bartender (whose name escapes me) was not terribly busy at the moment of my visit since they had just opened the doors at 4pm, so I was grateful I could speak with her about her recommendations. One of the best take aways was the way to drink a Mint Julep. I told her that I have never liked the Mint Julep (though I love bourbon) because I always find them to be a bit too strong. She informed me that they are to be sipped AFTER allowing the ice to melt a bit which is meant to then create a perfectly balanced cocktail. (See the photo to the left.)
Since I needed to wait for a few minutes in order to properly enjoy my Mint Julep, I ordered the “I Only Do Brooklyn On the Weekends” which is a spiced whiskey and vermouth cocktail. This was my favorite especially since they didn’t skimp on the good cherries. Luxardo Maraschino’s are the only way to go in my book. #somethingsowrongwithflourescentcherries
I will return in the next few months so that I can experience their full menu… perhaps when they begin the Jazz series but for now, I can say I would definitely recommend a visit. Maybe someone could go and let me know how their boozy desserts are! I really wanted to try them but I just didn’t have the space available for it. 😉 Cheers!
Click on Photos to see larger versions.