Butcher Bar Review

BUTCHER BAR
37-08 30th Avenue
Astoria, NY 11105
(718) 606-8140
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Butcher Bar is an organic butcher shop that sells high quality, pasture raised, no hormone or antibiotic treated meats. They also serve BBQ to eat in as well.
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The place shop itself is very casual & clean. We were seated right away by a friendly waitress.
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We ended up ordering the Butcher’s Platter (¼ pound each of any 3 meats & 2 sides). The 3 meats we chose were the Smoked Pulled Pork, Double Smoked Burnt Ends & Smoked Pork Belly. The 2 sides: Applewood Bacon Baked Beans & Creamy Mac & Cheese.

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Pork Belly, Pulled Pork & Burnt Ends

We also order ½ rack of the Fall off the Bone Sauced Smoked Ribs which came with house slaw, pickle, corncakes & one side, so we added the Sautéed String Beans (with bacon & onions).
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The food was very good. The ribs were definitely falling off the bone & had a nice bbq sauce slathered on it. The pulled pork & burnt ends were tender & flavorful, although ¼ pound of each seemed very little for the price. The pork belly was a disappointment because it turned out very salty & it was too fatty. The baked beans, house slaw & pickle were all very good. The string beans & mac & cheese were nothing spectacular but still good.I would definitely come back here to try more of their menu items. And possibly shop for some organic meats as well.

Cupcakes in Heels Review & Deal

Cupcakes in Heels
43-19 Bell Blvd
Bayside, NY 11361
718-415-2009

Before I talk about how amazing these cupcakes are, I’m going to post the AmazonLocal deal that is currently running. In the past, these have sold out quickly, so I’d recommend for you to grab one right away. This is a great value & the best way for you to try out their amazing cupcakes without having to pay the full price. And I can guarantee you that you’ll want to go back again & again after you’ve had your first bite.
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I cannot tell you how much I love the cupcakes at this place. I have to warn you, they are on the pricey side ($3.25-$3.50), but they’re totally worth it. They provide sweet treats that you can indulge in once in a while. They have fluffy frosting that is not overly sweet, moist cake & there’s always a bit of frosting on the inside. They decorate everything so beautifully, so it’s a great treat to bring to a housewarming or for a birthday.

They also make cake pops, cakes in a jar, French macarons, gorgeous custom designed cakes, couture dessert tables & many other sweet treats. The owner is super friendly & has a great work ethic. Everything she makes turns out gorgeous.
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The cupcakes are named after some of the popular fashion designers.

My favorites include:

“the Louboutin” Red Velvet

Red velvet cupcake with their signature creamy frosting, which has a hint of almond oil in it.

“the Jimmy Choo” Pistachio
Pistachio cupcake with whipped pistachio frosting. Who doesn’t love a pistachio cake?!?

 ”the Versace” Tiramisu
Tiramisu cupcake, soaked with wine, espresso and coffee, frosted with creamy mascarpone frosting, topped with shaved chocolate. I am not a fan of alcohol or coffee, but when you put those 2 combinations in a cupcake, I’ll gobble it up in a second. This is probably my absolute favorite so far.

I’ve tried many of their other flavors as well, but those have to be my absolute favorite. You’ve never tasted cupcakes like these before. It’s definitely a must-try.

The store front is on the small side & there’s no room to sit in the store. You just order & leave. They are located next to the Golf store, right by the bus station. Make your way there, you will not regret it. Seriously, get the AmazonLocal deal now before it’s sold out. They’re so YUMMY!!!!

Sweetleaf Review

SWEETLEAF
10-93 Jackson Ave
Long Island City, NY
(917) 832-6726

Hubby & I happened to be in the neighborhood & was looking for some coffee after brunch. We decided to stop in here. Upon walking in, we noticed the nice, homey, laid-back feel to the place. The cashiers were all really nice & didn’t rush you to order. They had chalkboard signs by the counter, a lounge area with vintage chairs & sofas, & in the back, a picnic table for those that want to use their laptops since it was forbidden in the lounge area. Oh yeah, did I forget the high ceilings? Yep, they have that too!

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I’m not a coffee person, so I left that for hubby to order. He opted for the Latte. Something simple & something he loves. He loved the Latte. He definitely thinks it’s one of the best.

I did read many rave reviews about the Rocketfuel (Cold-brewed w/ Chicory, Maple Syrup & Milk) & Voodoo Child (Vietnamese-style Cold-brew, sweet & creamy), so hubby will have to try those next time we make a visit, especially when he’s feeling really sluggish & tired.

I opted for the pastries, which they make fresh daily. I tried the Espresso Coffee Cake with Espresso Glaze. You can definitely taste the espresso in the cake. I’m not a fan of drinking coffee, but I don’t mind having it in baked goods form! 🙂 It was a denser Bundt cake, but it was still moist & would have gone perfect with a cup of coffee (if only I like coffee)! I enjoyed the cake while sitting in one of the cushiony chairs side-by-side with the hubby. It was a great place to chill on a lazy Sunday morning. I read my book & relaxed a bit. The place gets it spurt of loyal customers & I can see why they would come back time after time.

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Chillin’ with the Hubby

This is the kind of café that I would love to own one day. It is very laid-back & low-key, with great service, awesome coffee & baked goods. What more can a gal ask for?!?

Taverna Kyclades Review

TavernaKycladesMenu
>TAVERNA KYCLADES

33-07 Ditmars Blvd
Astoria, NY 11105
(718) 545-8666

Hubby & his family & I came here for dinner on the recommendation by a friend who lives nearby. We almost didn’t wait for a table because of online reviews mentioning wait times of an hour or more. SIL decided to put our names down anyway & was informed of a 30 minute wait. This place was completely packed, inside & out. The Greek restaurant across the street was empty & they were just standing around swatting flies. I felt bad for them.

As luck would have it, we got a table within 15 minutes for the 5 of us. Thankfully, it was inside since it was a bit chilly sitting outside. The inside is smaller than it appears but we had enough room. I read plenty of reviews online for Taverna Kyclades before we ordered, so we made our choices based on them.

We started with the large Peasant Salad which comes with 2 giant pieces of Feta cheese. This was more than enough for 5 people. We had some left over. There were chunks of tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, peppers & Kalamata olives with a nice dressing. This was a healthy starter.

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Large Peasant Salad

We also ordered a plate of the Tzatziki sauce. It doesn’t come with anything else but we used the complimentary bread that they give to each table & dipped it into the tzatziki. I need to first tell you that the bread they have is pretty amazing. They give you a whole baguette, cut in half. It comes warm & lightly drizzled in olive oil. The outside is nice & crisp, while the inside is tender soft. It is not chewy at all, which I love because chewy bread tends to make my jaw muscles tired. The tzatziki itself was delicious. I dipped everything into it. I could probably scoop the whole dish into my mouth & I’d be highly satisfied.

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Crispy & Tender Bread with Tzatziki Sauce

The absolute star of the whole entire meal would have to be the Grilled Octopus. The server brought the dish to the table, then proceeded to cut the octopus into smaller bites. The octopus was grilled perfectly. It was tender & had an amazing char-grilled flavor to it. It was seasoned with olive oil & lemon. And it came with slices of cucumbers. Everything worked with the octopus. I had to dip my bread into the lemony olive oil afterwards & it was divine. I’ve already forgotten about the tzatziki at this point. Octopus wins!

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Grilled Octopus – I wish they gave us all 8 tentacles!

Each entree comes with your choice of a side, so you don’t have to order anything extra.

Entree1: Stuffed Shrimp with Crabmeat – this came with 5 pieces (perfect for our table of 5). The shrimp was huge & it had a layer of crab on top. The crab was a little on the mushy side, but the shrimp was tasty. Hubby wasn’t that thrilled with this dish.

Crab stuffed Shrimp

Stuffed Shrimp with Crabmeat

Side1: Roasted Lemon Potatoes – this was white potatoes roasted in a lemony sauce. No one really liked this too much. The potatoes were very grainy & the lemon sauce didn’t wow our palate.

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Roasted Lemon Potatoes

Entree2: Grilled Chicken Kebob – this came with 5 pieces as well (how’d they know?!?). The chicken came in large chunks & they were moist & juicy. There were also grilled veggies (onions, tomato & peppers) that came on the plate, along with a side of tzatziki sauce. The veggies were nicely char-grilled & we were wishing there were more.

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Grilled Chicken Kebob

Side2: Beets – it was a plate of sliced beets cooked with a bit of chopped garlic. This was nothing fancy or special.

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Sliced Beets

Entree3: Branzino fish – Market Price at $28. We ordered a whole char-grilled European Sea Bass. We asked them not to de-bone the fish since MIL & FIL loves bones, heads & tails. The meat on the fish was flakey & tender. We added a squeeze of lemon juice to enhance the flavors.

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Branzino – European Sea Bass

Side3: Rice – fluffy & tasty yellow rice as a side. Again, the side wasn’t anything spectacular.

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Rice

We ordered just enough for 5 adults. Some of the portions are huge (like the salad), the rest were a decent portion. We finished off just about everything on our table. The bill came out to $135 after tax & tip. Not bad for feeding 5 very hungry adults (2 men & 3 women).

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I think we licked our plates!

This was definitely a satisfying meal. I’ll definitely come here again to try other recommendations like the scallops & clams. The food didn’t leave me in a food coma haze, which was a good sign. I was pleasantly full & feeling good since most of the food we had ordered was pretty healthy & not saturated in unknown fats & oils.

Bun-ker Vietnamese Review

Happy Memorial Day! Thank you for all those men & women who have died serving our country. Make sure to spend time with you family & loved ones.

BUN-KER Vietnamese
46-63 Metropolitan Ave.
Ridgewood, NY 11385
Hours: Tue-Wed 5 pm – 10 pm, Thu-Fri 5 pm – 11 pm, Sat 12 pm – 11 pm, Sun 12 pm – 10 pm

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Bun-ker Sign Outside

I saw a friend’s FB posting for this restaurant, so I decided to save it to my list of Restaurants to Try.

After an unsuccessful time house-hunting, we worked up an appetite. We decided to head over to Bun-ker. The location was less than ideal. It was right across from a scrap metal yard. It was probably the only restaurant we saw in the vicinity. I guess it’s good for those that work in the area, but it’s definitely not a destination I would normally venture out into.

The menu is small but they offer 4 appetizers, 5 Banh Mi (Vietnamese) sandwiches, 8 main entrée dishes, 4 sides, one dessert & some beverage. They might have specials up, but that varies from day to day, week to week.

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Bun-ker Menu

Hubby opted for the Suon Nuong Xa – grilled lemongrass pork tenderloin, fried egg & rice for $10. Hubby liked the tender pork with the char-grilled, smoky flavor & the fried egg was a nice touch. Was it spectacular? Definitely not, but it was good. Would we come back for this dish? No, especially considering I’ve learned to make the same pork tenderloin at home now with this recipe.

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Suon Nuong Xa – grilled lemongrass pork tenderloin

I opted for the Tom Thit Ram – caramelized shrimp, bacon, ginger, garlic, basil & rice for $14.50. A few past patrons have recommended this online, so I had high hopes for this dish. When you’re presented with it, it doesn’t look like much food, but when mixed with the rice, it was pretty filling. Everything on this dish was caramelized. The shrimp was juicy & succulent, the bacon had a sweet nuttiness to it, there were caramelized bits of ginger & garlic, which I don’t think I would normally eat, but I ate it all up. This dish is on the heavier side with the bacon & grease, but it was so tasty that it was worth. I would definitely eat this again.

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Tom Thit Ram – caramelized shrimp

Overall verdict, the bill including tax & tip came out to about $35. This was more expensive than our normal Vietnamese restaurants that we frequent. Bun-ker is worth a taste if you are in the neighborhood or if you are passing through, but this is definitely not a place I would go out of my way to get to (unless I start to crave the shrimp again).

Mian Review

MIAN
18402 Horace Harding Expy
Fresh Meadows, NY 11365
347-732-9365

Hubby & I worked up an appetite after attending Michael’s Grand Opening (it was a madhouse, but we scored some freebies)! Mian was nearby & we’ve been meaning to try it out, so this was the perfect opportunity on a rainy Sunday. We read some good & some bad reviews online, but it’s cheap Chinese food, what do you really expect, right?!?

The inside was reminiscent of Saint’s Alp Teahouse in Manhattan. With the tables & the uncomfortable little chairs, but I can see this as a cute little hangout if you want to get some tea or dessert with friends. Btw, they offer Eileen’s Cheesecake here, which is great if you don’t want to trek out into Manhattan for it.

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Inside of Mian

They have a small menu, which in my opinion, is good. It makes deciding easier, plus we’re hoping they excel in those few items they serve.

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A quick background, Mian means Noodles in Chinese. So we’re expecting them to at least make good noodles. Hubby ordered #9 –  Mian Soup Noodle.

You pick a Noodle (Broad Rice Flat Noodles, Egg Noodles, Udon, Rice Noodles).
Then, you pick a Topping (Roast Pork, Roast Duck, Shredded Chicken, Beef Brisket Stew, Homemade Wontons).

Hubby went with Egg Noodles & Homemade Wontons.

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#9 – Mian Soup Noodle – egg noodle & wonton

I decided to order one of my all-time favorites, #26 – Pork Chop – Deep Fried Pork Chop Served with Pork Sauce Over Rice.

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#26 – Pork Chop

The verdict: The hubby thought the noodles were cooked well, the broth wasn’t too salty & the wontons tasted fresh. And the price point of $6 was on par with other cheap eats Chinese restaurants, so he had no complaints. If you like spicy, don’t forget to ask for the Chili sauce. That was the star of the whole meal. It looks to have been made fresh & with the right amount of spiciness.

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You see the chili sauce on the right side. That was the star!

As for my pork chop over rice, I was pleasantly surprised when I moved the pork chops. I didn’t realize they had minced pork sauce covering the rice. Yeah, yeah, I know the description said “pork sauce” but I honestly didn’t even know what that meant! Oh, I slathered that pork sauce all over my white rice & enjoyed every bite. Hubby liked it too, but the pork chop over rice at 66 Lu’s Seafood still reigns supreme. At $6, it was decent & it will do on a rainy day & if you don’t want to trek into the heart of traffic-filled, human-filled Flushing, NY.

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Look at the brown pork sauce! Mumm…

We thought the place wasn’t bad. I wouldn’t make a special trip out here just to try this place, but if you’re in the neighborhood, it’s a decent place for decent food.

Mizumi All-You-Can-Eat Buffet Review

MIZUMI
231-10 Northern Blvd  Douglaston, NY 11362
(718) 229-8686

Price:
Lunch
Mon-Fri $17.95
Sat-Sun $21.95

Dinner
Mon-Fri $28.95
Fri-Sun $31.95

This is probably the best All-You-Can-Eat sushi places I’ve ever been to. I’m not a big fan of buffets to begin with so this is saying a lot. The place is clean & spacious. They are usually packed come Friday night & for the rest of the weekend. They will not seat you unless your whole party is present. The best thing to do is to make a reservation or go early (5-6pm). Also, there’s a time limit of 90 minutes, but that’s more than enough time to get your buffet on.

Quail Egg Over Rice
Quail Egg Over Rice

As for the food, they have a decently sized sushi & shashimi selection. They are fresh & made well. They even have Uni for you to try, which is rare for buffets. They also have 3 rows of cooked foods, and a row dedicated to desserts. The most popular being the frozen yogurt station. They had mango & vanilla the last time I visited.

Sushi & Shashimi

Sushi & Shashimi

I’ve been here 3 times & I have developed a game plan. The very first thing you must eat is the Ramen. The station is located in the back. You will ask the attendant (yes, a ramen attendant) to make you ramen. Don’t get fancy by asking for udon or some other noodle/broth. Just ask for ramen with the works (minus scallions, I don’t like scallions). It’s a small bowl, but the broth is some of the tastiest broth I’ve ever had. It’s like crack. You’ll want another bowl afterwards, but you must restrain yourself.

Delicious Ramen

Delicious Ramen

Now you are free to roam the aisles however you please. Please do not grab one of each item. Carefully scope out the selction first, then pick & choose a few things. Find what you like, then eat more of that.  When you are almost at your limit, go grab the churros & some fro-yo from the dessert section. Yes, I said churros. I don’t know why, but I love the churros there & must have some before I leave. And when you feel like you’re about to bust out of your pants, you might go for one more bowl of ramen. You might as well start & end with your favorite dish, right?!? Anyone with me on this? No? You think I’m weird? Well, I don’t care what you think, I love the ramen & I’d want the last thing that I taste to be something I love. It’s the most satisfying feeling ever.

Now go stuff your face with some Ramen!