Astoria Seafood Review Part 2: Dessert Course

I’d like to preface that I rarely give bad reviews or get irate in public. However, I think this needs to be said to anyone who is interested in dining at Astoria Seafood. 

The main take away from this review is this:  “don’t ever assume anything“.

This is Part 2 of my two-part review of Astoria Seafood. Click here to read Part 1: Main course – restaurant review.


It took me some time to post my review of Astoria Seafood because I wanted to ensure it is as rational and truthful as it can be. I also took the time to think through the experience to extract anything constructive I can learn from it.

This post goes into a more constructive, “what can I and Astoria Seafood learn from this experience” route.

Lessons for me and Astoria Seafood

What I should do next time

When I try a new restaurant that has a different concept from the traditional ones, I usually ask the staff how it works and what I should expect. Unfortunately, this time I only chose to follow what the Yelp reviews and tips said about the restaurant. Next time, I will do both. This will minimize any headache and frustration on my part.

What Astoria Seafood could do next time

I strongly believe the staff needs to evaluate their service system. Perhaps something like this:

  1. Hostess greets you as you enter. This doesn’t even have to be so formal, they can give a shout to the people coming in i.e. say “who hasn’t picked and paid for their seafood?”. This step can thin out the herd from first timers to regulars. Hostess can tell the regulars to do their thing and first timers can get a quick 101 of how it works.
  2. After paying, cashier gives customers copy of their order receipt, directs them to go back to the hostess who will find a table for them and tells them to keep their receipt until they are seated.
  3. Hostess tells clients to keep receipt on table to show what they paid for so the waitress in charge of table can use it as reference.

These steps minimizes any headaches especially if you need to sit people, community style, during busy hours. It also gives first timers who don’t think to ask how it works or don’t read restaurant reviews a fighting chance. Being in the service industry, a restaurant’s responsibility is to educate and create good experiences for people.

Lastly, avoid this at all cost: tell or imply to the customer it’s their fault for not saying anything if they felt there was an issue. You will get customers that are from different spectrums of personality, do not fault them for that because it’s your job to accommodate accordingly. You are after all in the customer service industry. Bottomline, the phrase “don’t ever assume anything” plays a big role here.

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Photo by Jill Conyers; Quote by Don Miguel Ruiz

 

 

 

 

 

 

Astoria Seafood Review Part 1: Main Course

I’d like to preface that I rarely give bad reviews or get irate in public. However, I think this needs to be said to anyone who is interested in dining at Astoria Seafood. 

The main take away from this entire story is this:  “don’t ever assume anything“.

Since this is a long post, I decided to break this up to a two-part story:

This post is Part 1: Main course – restaurant review. Click here to read Part 2: Dessert course – take-away lessons from my experience.

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Let me start by bottom-lining my review. If you’re interested in dining at Astoria Seafood, then go at your own risk. Be as prepared as possible. Ask questions if you feel unsure. Learn from my experience.

I typically go on Yelp to read people’s reviews before I try a new restaurant. While I know Yelp reviews are subjective, they give me the opportunity to see the good, bad and ugly of a restaurant. Reviews don’t usually deter me from trying unless the pictures I see are rather appalling.

Astoria Seafood got rave reviews in Yelp, Google, and Foursquare. Queens’ foodie residents also raved about the place and considered it as their top go-to seafood restaurant. I’ve always wanted to go to Astoria Seafood, but didn’t take the plunge until last Saturday.

The Concept

The restaurant’s schtick:

  1. You pick your choice of fresh seafood. They have a variety of choices (lobster, scallops, mussels, king crab, snapper, bass, etc.).
  2. You pay for what you pick. They charge by the pound and depends on what type. After you pay, you tell them how you want it cooked (grilled, baked, or fried).
  3. After you pay, you go back to the front, tell the hostess your name and show your receipt.
  4. Hostess writes down your name and # of people.
  5. You wait your turn to be called.
  6. Hostess calls you and once seated, they then start cooking your food. I learned/experienced this step the hard way…

Before I move on, I’d like to preface that Astoria Seafood was VERY busy when we got there. I expected this because of the Yelp reviews and tips I got from a Queens foodie I follow on Instagram.

The Wait Times

Paying

After picking the food, there was a short line to the cashier. There were 2 cashiers at that time, so it’s not a lengthy wait. Basically, they tally the weight of each seafood you got, total up your final cost, ask how you want it cooked, and you pay.

Getting a table

After hostess took our names, we waited between 20-30 minutes before we got seated. The hostess was quite entertaining to watch because she would call people as she was smoking her cig. When she called to seat people and no one came to her, she would say “ok, forgot about them, don’t care about them” and would proceed to call the next one on her list. When it was our turn, she was calling “Lina” first, I asked her do you mean “Liane”? She said, “yes that’s what I said, I clearly can’t say your name right”, in a joking way. Laughs all around.

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We’re called the same time as another group. The hostess seemed to have decided to do community style seating with my group and this other group without inquiring if it was OK with us. I didn’t complain because they were VERY busy and the other group didn’t seem to mind as well. One thing I noticed before we’re even shown to our seats, was the hostess and waitress got into a little spat with one each other. Waitress was complaining about the hostess’ system of sitting people to their manager. Hostess is a little sassy one, talked back. They seemed to be fighting about the hostess’ deciding to sit 2 groups in a table for 6 and waitress wasn’t too happy about that (side note: We think this is what made them so confused about our group, which you’ll later read how it unfolded). Now was this a way to act in front of customers? If I still have your attention, you be the judge and read on.

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Continue reading “Astoria Seafood Review Part 1: Main Course”

Restaurant Week : New York City

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Twice a year, people of New York City gather to celebrate New York Restaurant Week. During this time one can enjoy three course meals at any of the restaurant participants for an affordable $25 lunch and $38 dinner price.

For me, Restaurant Week is a good time to discover new restaurants the city hast to offer. If you’re wondering where you should make reservations, here are my recommendations:

1) Fig and Olive – Midtown – Mediterranean

Lunch Menu Picks

Appetizer: Salmon Crudo
Main: Truffle Risotto
Dessert: Chocolate Pot De Creme

The truffle risotto is delicious. It’s a small serving, but it will pack a major punch on your taste buds! If you have an extra $7, I highly recommend ordering the crostinis.

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2) Les Halles – Flatiron – French

Appetizer: House Made Pate
Main: “Paleron”
Dessert: Creme Brulee

I personally like their Cote de Boeuf, but since it’s not included in their restaurant week menu, I recommend the “Paleron” is a preview to the rib roast mothership.

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3) Hatsuhana – Midtown – Japanese

Hatsuhana is my go-to sushi place in the city. The restaurant week menu is not available online, but I highly suggest this place if only for the fresh fish they serve. My tip: sit at the bar where you can see the sushi chef work their magic.

4) Socarrat Paella Bar – Midtown/Chelsea – Spanish Tapas

Dinner Menu Picks

Tapas: Croquetas del Dias
Main: Paella de Arroz Negro
Dessert: Flan

Paella with black rice and assorted seafood is the bomb. It’s good for two people, so make sure you bring a companion when you try this place out!

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Fig and Olive | Les Halles | Feed the Model Blog

Cibo: Sunnyside’s Takesushi

If you’re an uni sushi (sea urchin) lover, then you’re familiar about how this dish can set you back a few dollars. Sunnyside’s Takesushi is the only sushi restaurant I have been to that offers uni-centric dishes at reasonable prices. Now, if you are a sushi connoisseur you may wonder, how fresh is the uni? Quite fresh actually because the owner, Robin Kawada, is passionate about fresh food. Every morning, he visits the New Fulton Fish Market to purchase the best and freshest fish available.

I’ve been to this restaurant three times now and it’s the only sushi restaurant I would frequent as a Sunnyside local. The place is accessible from the 40th St stop of the 7 train and within just a few steps, you will find it situated around the corner of 42nd street on the north side of Queens Boulevard.

It’s not one of those fancy sushi places that you would normally find in Manhattan, but the food here is on par with what you will find in a Manhattan sushi joint. I usually go during lunch time as I prefer their lunch menu (it’s also cheaper). They have a good selection of raw and cooked sushi, as well as, dishes for the non-sushi eaters. During my last visit, I ordered the Jennifer Roll (spicy yellowtail roll with fish eggs and scallions) and my go to dish, Uni Maguro Don (rice covered with uni and tuna sashimi). Robin, who is also the sushi chef, wondered if I would be able to finish both dishes did me a favor by cutting thin slices of the fish.

If you’re looking for a good place to take your Valentine this coming Valentines Day, then I highly recommend making the trek down to Sunnyside to eat at Takesushi. Your wallet, tummy, and date will thank you for it.

Cibo: Sunnyside’s Salt & Fat

If you are looking for an off the beaten path restaurant during your visit to New York City, look no further than Sunnyside’s Salt & Fat. A perfect escape from the City’s tourist trap restaurants, this casual and intimate place situated along the south side of Queens Boulevard caters to anyone who enjoys fusion style cooking.

In one word, I would describe the food as delicious (groundbreaking, I know). If you are familiar with tapas style food portions, then the portions at Salt & Fat will not be foreign to you. The dinner menu contains 15 choices that are made to be shared. I personally like the scallops, roasted carrot puree, truffled corn salsa, and capers – the blend of flavors is amazing and lives up to the name of the restaurant. The Yellowtail Tartare is another favorite of mine – if you are a fan of the sushi version, you must order this!

If you like pairing your meal with a beverage, the restaurant offers a medium size beer and wine selection. As for their dessert menu, do not expect it to be the same number of choices as the dinner menu. They currently have three offerings and one of them is the chef’s special that rotates every week.

Metro: 7 Local to 40th & Lowery
Price: $$
Food: Delish!

Scallops, roasted carrot puree, truffled corn salsa, and capers

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Yellowtail tartare, yuzu gel, scallions, cassava chips

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