Queens Comfort in Astoria NY

"Down by Law" ... I asked for no-bun to make it gluten-free friendly

Blue Bottle coffee

My friend wanted to celebrate her last day of work and her upcoming new job, and she chose the aptly named Queens Comfort for its vibrantly kitschy and cozy atmosphere with a great selection of comfort foods. Three-quarters of the menu is made up of sandwiches, though the starters offers up some non-sandwich entree options, like the mac & cheese, which was popular with our group.

Unfortunately, my photos did not do the plates any justice. Especially when I asked for no-bun, which would've made my plate look more appetizing. I got the "Down by Law" chicken sandwich for its interesting condiment of bacon jam, combined with avocado and chipotle mayo. I would suggest using real roast chicken and slathering more bacon jam!

My daughter loved her "adult" bacon cheeseburger, prepared medium, and I enjoyed picking off my husband's plate of BBQ pulled pork and fresh slaw. Despite my low enthusiasm for my plate, I practically licked my plate clean which speaks for itself.

Just like the bodegas of olden days, this place takes CASH ONLY. It's also BYOB, so don't forget your 40, in or out of a brown bag.

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WildFlour Bakery & Cafe in Lawrenceville NJ

There comes a time in a gluten-free diet that one says-- enough is enough, I need to eat bread, dammit! Well, that day finally came, though I seriously have been really committed and alright without bread since the summer. I had found WildFlour on a search a while back, and it was time to pay a visit.

My husband and I started with our customary coffee (for me) and latte (for him), then ordered pancakes and a grilled cheese sandwich to share. My husband wasn't happy with his latter, but I was so over the moon about the food that I didn't care!

The weird thing about eating gluten-free bread is that it feels like it's going to crumble and fall apart before it makes it into your mouth. You can imagine the mind games it plays. It looks like bread, but it isn't. At WildFlour, the sliced bread for the sandwich was thick and soft, and even though it threatened to crumble, it was really good. The muhammara, a red pepper hummus with crushed walnuts, was a real scene stealer, and the plate really wouldn't have been as memorable without it. The pancakes were good, but you can tell something about it was different. Mind games, I tell you.

I do recommend WildFlour to anyone on a gluten-free diet. It has a great vibe, similar to what I look for in a place, gluten-free or not. So it's not just a run-of-the-mill bakery and cafe, it really is something special with its artisanal offerings and a cool, inviting space. If it was closer than 10 miles to my house, I'd definitely visit regularly.

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Tiffin in Wynnewood PA

Chicken korma

Traveled to the outer suburbs of Philadelphia to visit my friend's mother in the hospital. Our appetites had grown for a hearty dinner, so after our visit, my friend and I did not want to travel far. She had heard of Tiffin, and there was one location by the chain, in a little strip mall next to Old Navy and Bed, Bath, and Beyond.

The interior makes you forget you are in a strip mall, though the square layout is a giveaway. For a Thursday night, near closing, the place was half-full, so it was a good sign. The menu is mostly a la carte, though at least rice is included with the viand options.

Between the two of us, we shared a cauliflower vegetarian dish, a lamb dish, and chicken korma. My friend enjoyed a special naan with a coconut and nut filling. I was so surprised with the quality of the food, especially the korma's sauce which was complex and hearty with crushed cashews and ginger bits. I still had enough to bring home and enjoy the next day.

Tiffin has several locations, and I believe they deliver in the city. Give it a try at least once, and they may impress you also for a second round, or it can even become a staple.

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Kumo Asian Bistro in Somerville NJ

Our selection of sashimi, including salmon, eel, tuna, egg custard

Our selection of kitchen foods: grilled squid, edamame, gyoza, calamari

Our selection of specialty rolls, three types

All you can eat checklist, with spicy seaweed salad

My husband and son are particular about what they'd like for their birthdays. My husband likes steak, and my son likes Japanese food. Specifically, he likes the all-you-can-eat type, so he can order to his heart's content. 

Kumo Asian Bisto offers a kitchen menu and a sushi bar menu. Hot foods run the gamut from grilled, teriyaki, and tempura styles. The sushi bar includes sashimi, sushi, regular rolls, and specialty rolls. Keep in mind that rolls come in 6-8 pieces rolled in rice, so order with caution. Sushi and sashimi come in individual pieces.

The atmosphere of Kumo is better than most AYCE places I've been to, and the price is good ($20 per person). It was definitely a good choice to celebrate my son's 23rd birthday. The decor is bright, clean, and spacious. Service could be better, and could be faster with tea and water refills, as well as refill orders.

The area of Somerville that it is in is also bustling, so you may eye a place to visit the next time you're in the area.

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Agricola in Princeton NJ

Local artisan cheeseboard

Duck confit

Chicken paillard

My foodie friends from NYC came for a visit on MLK Day, and out of 3 suggestions I made, they picked Agricola. I had never been there before so I was happy with their choice. It was a short visit, but I was able to show them the Princeton University area and Palmer Square, as well as bring them to Bent Spoon for dessert before driving them back to the train.

We had different sized appetites, so among our group of four, we ordered: the local artisan cheeseboard, with a good selection of mild to strong cheeses; soup and flatbread; duck confit; and chicken paillard. Everyone else was pleased with their menu selections, and since I am now gluten-free, I just take them on their word. It all looked good, too, as you can see.

I loved my chicken paillard with its endive, walnut, and bleu cheese salad. My only complaint was that it had too much parsley which overpowered the dish. 

Aside from that, you can really feel the farm-to-table theme of the place-- with its interior design including different salvaged-looking wood and mason jars adorning shelves, plus the kitchen activity is made visible from the sidewalk through large windows, adding to its charm. The servers are also pretty cute with their upbeat attitudes and uniforms of button-downs with rolled up sleeves.

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Tacorito in Hightstown NJ

Chicken flautas

Burrito with your choice of meat and fillings!

Mixed grill platter, includes 4 shrimp by my daughter ate them before
I could take the photo
This is a small fast-casual restaurant on Hightstown's main street. My family and I realized that we have been missing out on authentic Mexican cuisine, not knowing this place was so close by. Since there were four of us in the group, we tried a bunch of items. There was also a good selection of gluten-free options, because Mexican food has typically gluten-free basics like corn chips and corn tortillas.

Not all the items were photogenic, but we did get: mixed grill platter, beef burrito, creamy chicken dish, chicken flautas, and chips and salsa. The entrees were served with rice and beans. I loved the rice, and just based on the rice, I want to come back and often. The burrito was generously sized and mixed grill was also generous in its offerings of four types of meat.

Now, despite the amount of food we ordered, we finished every last bit because it was just so good. Check it out and be surprised yourself!

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Pinoy Filipino Restaurant in Somerville NJ

Chicken curry with potatoes, carrots, and bell peppers

Lechon kawali

Pancit palabok garnished with shrimp, boiled eggs, and scallions

Pinoy Filipino Restaurant keeps getting better and better. I tried their catering options, and it was a huge success with my guests. If you go on their website, you will find a full catering menu, and although the package suggested is for 50 guests, I was able to make a smaller order for my small party.

I ordered lechon kawali (crunchy fried pork), chicken curry, beef mechado (beef cubes in heavy sauce), pancit palabok (rice noodles with ground pork and shrimp), as well as a batch of owner Cynthia's specialty: bibingka (sweet rice cakes).

Lechon kawali is a typical party hit. The curry had a flavorful and complex sauce, with fresh ginger. The beef was so tender, one of my guests described it as "butter". Palabok is my favorite Filipino noodle dish, so I was in heaven.

And the bibingka? What bibingka? Those disappeared the fastest!

... Original post from 3/13/14 ....

There is now a daily lunch buffet! The price includes soda and food is served family style. Just take a look at what's available and the server will bring the dishes to your table. This is my preferred way of eating anyway... no getting up for refills! The style of cooking is authentic and comforting, so if you are Filipino and haven't got family here, you can pretend you are visiting your Lola's or Tita's house.

Always available are noodles and rice, and entrees vary. When I went, there were pork & chicken BBQ sticks, chicken afritada (with potatoes and tomatoes in a rich sauce), paksiw na lechon (pork with soy sauce and vinegar), sinigang (pork and vegetables in a sour tamarind flavored broth), and bistek (beef and onions). The surprise treat for the day was grilled pineapple dusted with cinnamon.

Desserts are not included in the buffet, but they are worth trying. Pictured above are leche flan (egg custard), biko (sweet coconut rice served with coconut ice cream), and bibingka (banana flavored sticky muffin served with mango ice cream). The latter two desserts are not readily available elsewhere, so these are really special to this place.

Warmer weather is coming and outdoor seating will be available soon. Division Street is also a lovely place to hang out in, with its weekend festivals and interesting shops to peruse. Don't forget to bring a bottle!

-- Original post below 9/21/13 --

I've been coming here since they opened in 2009. Back then, it was half a grocery and half a restaurant. The place has gone through a major overhaul in recent years, and the grocery is only about a tenth of the place now, and may not be there for a while longer. The decor consists of candles and mini bamboo bouquets, on honey colored wooden tables. There is outdoor seating for the warmer months, and on Saturdays there is usually some live music on the street, which is permanently closed off to car traffic. Bonus points for being a BYOB.

Now, the place is running full speed ahead with a well thought out menu. The items are priced well, and they have all the comfort foods that any Filipino might come looking for. My daughter declared the lumpiang shanghai to be the best she's ever had, and I always order the stuffed grilled squid because that's what feels like home to me.

I would recommend bringing beer or any dry white wine!

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