A Forest Hills Life

Another voice in the wilderness of central Queens working towards Forest Hills 2.0.

Thursday, March 27, 2008


Recently visited Terroir, the brand new wine bar from the fine folks behind Hearth and Insieme. Went on the second or third night it was open, so they still didn't have a full wine list available. Even with that limitation, it was a terrific evening. It was full most of the night, but the heavy rain probably kept it from being overcrowded. I sat with some friends at the long communal table that runs the length of the bar. Its a bright and lively space, and the communal table and the hospitality of Paul Grieco and Marco Canora definitely contributed to a social atmosphere. We spent a lot of time talking to our neighbors.

We arrived in time for happy hour, which includes a few well selected wines for 5 dollars a glass. While we were debating what food to order, Chef Canora dropped a small plate of the fried risotto balls in front of us. These were made from beat risotto with some gorgonzola and were delicious. We ended up ordering the plate of cured meats which was amazing. I don't recall exactly what was on the plate, but it was all high quality. The fried sage leaves with lamb sausage was great as well. And I have been craving the duck ham, taleggio and hen-of-the-woods mushroom panini ever since I had it.

Paul Grieco, the man behind the wine program at Hearth, Insieme and Terroir is a super enthusiastic presence in the bar. He was ready to give you a full rundown on any wine you had a question about, and you could tell he was excited about each one. I was thrilled when he said that come summer, the white wines by the glass may be one long list of Rieslings. That's music to my ears.

For me, this is an ideal place. Ambitious wine and delicious food at a reasonable price, served with enthusiasm by obviously passionate hosts. I wish I could live next door.

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Monday, March 24, 2008

Bonfire Grill

While it may be a little early to give this place a real review, I have a few quick impressions from a visit there last night with my wife.

The space is decent looking by Forest Hills standards, but not exactly that attractive. The bar area is a little more appealing than the bland, oddly colored, dining room. The cheap tables and chairs don't do much for the space either.

Service wasn't great, but that's typical this early. Our waitress took quite some time to take our order (it appeared she was also cleaning and setting tables). She never brought the water I asked for, never asked if I wanted a second glass of wine and she brought out our main course before we were finished with our appetizers. That last one is a big one for me, but certainly not fatal for a just opened and obviously not ambitious restaurant.

From the limited menu I tried the calamari appetizer. This was lightly fried and came with a cocktail like sauce which I didn't care for. The calamari themselves were alright, slightly rubbery and no added crunch from the light batter and frying. I also had the burger. This was nothing special. Typical burger like you would get at any number of places. The fries were tragic for me. Soggy and greasy.

My wife had the ceasar salad which she said was decent and a some goat cheese tapas. This was some toasted bread with a little bit of goat cheese (too little my wife said) and some artichoke and tomato mixture.

We'll see what happens as they get up to speed and have their full menu available, but I'm not that optimistic. Honestly, we typically cook every night and only go out on the weekends, which means usually a trip into Manhattan or maybe Jackson Heights. While some good options in the hood would be great, I'm not so desperate that I'll be excited about something that doesn't really warrant it. There seems to be a lot of excitement on the blogs about this place, and that's OK. I just don't think it fills any real need for me.

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