Over the past few days I had the pleasure of dining at numerous Queens and Manhattan establishments. As my girlfriend lives in Queens I'm there frequently and the food adventure continues. This time with Taverna Kyclades, Arunee Thai, La Flor Bakery & Cafe, Annie's Roti Shop, and Emmas Pizza. This is in addition to the Pizza, Chocolate Cake, Cheesecake, Cannoli and Sfogatelle Tasting Crawls reported on the Manhattan board.... in order of my positive impressions of the food:
1) La Flor Bakery and Cafe, 53-02 Roosevelt, Sunnyside Queens. We had dessert to go from here after dining at Arunee Thai (which see). We tried the plain cheesecake, flan, and key lime pie. The cheesecake was one of the VERY HIGHLIGHTS of all the tastings. Reported elsewhere on this board...it's currently my benchmark NYC cheesecake. Looking forward to tasting it against Andres Hungarian, S&S in the Bronx, and any others you suggest. In our tasting we had it head-to-head against Veneiro's in Manhattan and La Flor was our clear favorite...creamy, lemony, fabulous texture, awesome with coffee.
The key lime pie was an interesting tartness but the "chiffony" "airy" texture detracted somewhat. Really can't recommend it. We liked the Flan but not craving it. Later had the flan at 5-Burros, thought it's better, but none is quite up to what we remember from Malagueta in Astoria, our benchmark NYC flan at this point.
Other hounds have suggested the chocolate molten cake and the bread pudding from La Flor are great, too, and we want to try their pecan pie as well.
2) Annie's Roti Shop...12328 Rockaway Blvd, S. Ozone Park/Queens. This is as real Trinidad food as you're likely to find in NYC. My girlfriend is Trini so you have an expert's vote. Annie's is take-out only and not much atmosphere but you can tell it's popular with locals. Annie is supposedly an ex-cook with Singh's, popular on this board.
My girlfriend swears that Annie's taste is more authentic than Flamingo or Singh's and the only reason we occasionally go to Flamingo is to have a sit-down meal.
The highlight is the "potato pie", called "Aloo - something ?" aloo being trini for potato. It's just great, kind of like a caribbean burrito. And cheap. Stuffed with who-knows-what but it's tasty. Also feature full line of roti's, curries, etc. all to go.
The Annie's potatoe pies, along with the La Flor Cheesecake, Balthazar 3-chocolate cake(in Manhattan), and 5-Burro Flan were all the very high points of all foods tasted.
3) Taverna Kyclades, 3307 Ditmars St., Astoria. You should go here for SEAFOOD primarily. The fresh fish in the counter are clear indication of their specialty. We would like to try it again with this in mind. Anyway, had the Grilled Octopus appetizer, Spinach Pie, Chicken Souvlaki, and a dessert item of philo dough and something. The octopus was very nicely prepared, served with tart greek vinagarette. Grilled charred yet very tender on the inside. Appetizer is easily enough for 4. The spinach pie was tasty, if a bit delicate and bland. Not like those "smashed down" or pre-frozen variety. This was fluffy, very nice if a bit plain. The souvlaki was a giant portion with Tzakiki sauce. Skewered with peppers and tomatoes. The chunks were very large, could have been a bit smaller and might have had a bit more flavor. Nothing not to like there, but no raves either.
Bottom line...if you're here, just focus on seafood. Also, while the room is very nicely decorated it lends itself to very high volume levels when packed. Volume to the point of irritability, we would imagine. We originally were going to S'Agapo but they closed early so we switched to Kyclades. Looking forward to trying other greek restaurants in Astoria soon.
4) 5-Burro Mexican Restaurant, Austin St., Forest Hills. We had an order of Al Pastor tacos,a chicken burrito, and flan for dessert. First the chips and salsa...while not bad-tasting there was very little pepper heat in the salsa and they only had the one "strength". The chips also seemed like they might be flour chips rather than corn. Just didn't have a strong corn taste. The Al Pastor came in large chunks rather than the smaller pieces typical of most taquerias. Very nice cut of meat, not quite as highly spiced as an "authentic taqueria" so probably wouldn't order it again but still well-prepared. The chicken burrito was a bit more impressive, nicely grilled tasty chunks of chicken. Quite nice, actually. The Flan dessert was the clear highpoint of this meal and one of the high points of the entire trip. It's very good in the "eggy" style with a very thick crust of burnt caramel. Looking forward to a head-to-head tasting of this vs. the flan at Malagueta although we both felt that Malagueta's flan is probably a bit better. Overall I'm in no hurry to return to 5-burro but for a tex-mex jones with a frozen margarita what the heck, you could do worse.
5)Arunee Thai...37-68 79th st. Jackson Hts. Bottom line here is that this generally is not "thai style" food but "ameri-Thai". We asked for Thai style and they did their best but it just wasn't there. For authentic "thai style" our clear pick is still Sriraphai. Not that the food tasted bad, but once you develop taste buds for real thai the ameri-thai just doesn't cut it.
6)Emmas Pizza 63-68 108th, Forest Hills. Had a multi-ingredient pizza and chicken parmigiana (at girlfriend's insistence). The C.P. may have been marginally tasty but the pizza was not to our liking. We prefer Nicks greatly.
Again, thanks to all NYC Chowhounders for your comments which helped us select these and other venues to try. Looking forward to another tasting soon.