Rewind to a very windy night in October. Hurricane Sandy is in the middle of unleashing her wrath on New York City, and a fellow Wisconsinite and I are weathering out our first hurricane in our respective apartments in the middle of Astoria, Queens. An exchange of “everything still okay?” texts ensue and somehow make the ten blocks between us a little shorter and the flickering lights a little less daunting. Needless to say, we both woke up the next morning, perhaps a little shocked that the hardest part of surviving Sandy was managing the constant influx of phone calls and emails from our parents who were nervous wrecks despite being 1,000 miles out of Sandy’s path (sorry, Mom). Our workplaces were closed and public transit was down on that fateful day-after. The only obvious thing to do was celebrate our painless survival. Enter The Queens Kickshaw.
The short walk from my apartment to The Kickshaw that night was dark and gusty in the hurricane’s aftermath. For whatever reason I felt compelled to bring a flashlight with me, which turned out to be totally unnecessary and pretty embarrassing in hindsight, considering Astoria has a history of being perfectly hurricane-safe. At least I left my gallon jugs of distilled water at home.
Eventually The Kickshaw emerged on a leaf-covered corner just off Steinway Street. As soon as I walked into the dimly lit bar/restaurant buzzing with equally thankful-to-be-alive neighbors, I simultaneously knew that 1.) I’d officially defeated Sandy and could promptly return the 12 triple A batteries that were currently covering my bedroom floor and 2.) I was falling in love with The Kickshaw.
I found my fellow survivor sitting at the bar. Hugs and congratulations were exchanged in a we’re-clearly-not-from-the-coast fashion, and we quickly noted how we almost felt we were back in Wisconsin in the midst of The Kickshaw’s relaxed vibe, younger crowds, extensive local beer list, and…menu of grilled cheese sandwiches. You can find a restaurant of pretty much every ethnicity in Astoria, but sometimes one just wants to consume a grilled cheese sandwich.
We did take advantage, however, of a very New York-y, very locally-brewed beverage on the menu: kombucha beer on tap. Wait, I just want to make sure you read that correctly: Kombucha. Beer. On tap.
If you’re not familiar with the cultured nature of drinkable kombucha, you have a right to think I’m totally strange and wonder what the heck I’m talking about. You also should go buy a bottle of kombucha and experience it right now. Even as kombucha connoisseurs (if that wasn’t a thing, it is now) ourselves, I’ll admit we were a little skeptical of the concept of kombucha beer. But then the gentleman sitting next to us introduced himself as the brewer of that specific kombucha beer and told us his brewery was just a couple blocks away. Now, if we’re talking about local, you can’t get much closer than that. We promptly ordered our first kombucha beer, and with a little guidance from the brewer, we determined it to be slightly earthy, a little sweet, and overall quite enjoyable.
The Queens Kickshaw was the perfect post-hurricane remedy, and it’s been the perfect neighborhood go-to spot since that day. I’d tell you about the menu of gourmet grilled cheeses, but I think saying egg, ricotta, parmesan crisp, thyme and maple hot sauce on brioche for $5 is probably all you need to know.
Plus, a “Shandygaff” for your viewing pleasure.
Sandy, thank you for introducing me to The Queens Kickshaw. Queens Kickshaw, thank you for being a short walk from my apartment, flashlight in hand or no.