Couple of quick reports here. First, was walking on Junction and Corona yesterday, happened upon a place called Esquina Criolla. Mistook it for Rincon Criollo, as eulogized on this site, and went in hoping to get a Cubano. Instead, found it was quite a good Argentine place. Not really fancy, just diner like decor, but I had the best sweetbreads I have had in the 'hood--better than either Portena or Fusta. They have a sweetbread sandwich which is fantastic. The bread is lightly toasted, and the sweetbreads are perfectly cooked, slightly crispy on the outside, and succulent inside. Side order of Potatoes Provencal was also very nice--potatoes boiled than sauteed with a ton of garlic and chopped parsleys. Would go back to check out other offerings there as well.
Also, last week, went to Reina del Cisne, the successor to the lamented Luigis (yes I know the pasta wasn't that good but the old-style things like the Saltimbocca and the Milanese were quite all right I thought). Alas, the new place does not come anywhere near filling the gap left by Luigi's departure. It's combination Ecuadoran/Italian. I had the roast chicken (nothing to write home about in a neighborhood with Mario's, Pio-Pio etc), but rice and beans accompaniment were okay. My wife had a chicken piccata, which was acceptable but not great. The real problem is not so much the food, which is okay, but the atmosphere. They seem to have run out of money halfway through redoing the place. For example, nice awning, but the menu has a few mistkes that are corrected by hand and it's offered under a cover that says wine list. Doubly ironic since they don't have a liquor license even though they say bar and restaurant on the awning.
This brings me to a larger point--how come the restaurant scene along 37th avenue in JH is so lame? Judging from the real estate ads, pricing at establishments like La Portena, and the fact that places like Uncle Peter's on Northern are packed, there should be no trouble filling up a JH counterpart to something like Bliss, Tournesol or Sans Souci--a neighborhood continental/French place. Alternately, something that drew on the local neighborhood resources and traditions and attracted both locals and distance traffic (a Mexican equivalent of Sripraphai?) should also do very well, I think. So any budding restauranteurs out there, we could really use you.