Monday, May 27, 2013

Queens Kickshaw

  [link to podcast page]
Interview with Ben and Jen of Queens Kickshaw podcast
We were drawn to this quirky little Astoria bistro for their second anniversary party a few months back, and, having been thoroughly impressed, we knew that a repeat visit was inevitable. Looking through the tiny storefront window at the entrance to the Queens Kickshaw, you'd expect to find a narrow rail-car sized joint, like Proletariat in the East Village, but instead, it expands into a high-ceilinged, long, open, inviting space, with a cozy warmth enhanced by exposed brick, worn wood and a rusty, rustic, archaic industrial decor.
This will extinguish your thirst!
Soon after wife and husband team Jen and Ben moved to Astoria, they wanted to add to the tantalizing, diverse culinary landscape that Queens has become known for. They were contemplating a coffee bar, but if they couldn't set up a brick-and-mortar business then they planned on launching a coffee truck mounted on an auto-rickshaw. Right away they had a name in mind -- Kickshaw, which conveniently means a small delicacy, aside from being a cute play on "rickshaw".

But they did find a space, and so quickly expanded their concept beyond gourmet java. Regardless, their coffee is top notch, supplied by Coffee Labs of Tarrytown, offering a variety of brews, including some very smooth cold-brewed coffees. But they also have a full dining menu which is simple & solid and yet quirky & creative. "Comfort food with a twist," as Ben describes it. Almost immediately, they became reputed for their decadent grilled cheese sandwiches.
Bob, B.R., Jen and Ben.
And more importantly, at least for us, is Kickshaw's central concept: a well thought out beverage program, centered around the best craft beer and cider that they can find. Granted, they're open very early every day, peddling tasty caffeinated cups to the morning set. But it's at evening time when you'll want to visit QK to take full advantage of the carefully crafted beverage menu.
Gruyère grilled cheese with caramelized onions, and endive salad.
Ben told us that he puts a lot of time and effort into curating their beer offerings. Typically, they have four beers on tap, with cider, kombucha and brewed coffee taking up the other three lines, complimented by an extensive bottle list. Jen says that she's more into the cider, and with about 30 craft ciders on the menu, there's a lot to be into!
You didn't just pour the strongest espresso on the sweetest ice cream? Oh yes you did...
One thing which sets them apart from almost all other craft beer and cider dispensaries is their ability to sell large format bottled beer by the glass. They utilize a system developed for champagne which re-fills the head space of opened bottles with carbon-dioxide, and then re-pressurizes them when resealed, so that a patron need not buy an entire 750ml. Ben says that they can open and re-seal a bottle three times without diminishing the quality of the beer. Their device was custom made to accommodate the proper carbonation for beer, which is about half that of champagne.
The kitchen.
Queens Kickshaw gets their kombucha -- which is a low-alcohol, fermented, carbonated tea beverage -- down the block, from Beyond Kombucha. In addition to the barely alcoholic (≈3%) healthy, fizzy, somewhat tart/sour teas, they also produce a very unique ale. The 6.5% a.b.v. Mava Roka kombucha ale is frequently found on tap at Kickshaw. I think that we need to look into this a bit further!
Located conveniently one block from the Steinway stop on the R-train, at 40-17 Broadway, in Astoria, directly across from a Queens Library branch, there's really no good reason not to add Queens Kickshaw to your list of regular haunts. And if you actually live in Astoria... well, you'd be a masochist if you didn't frequent this joint on a weekly basis, at the least!
The backroom.

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