It was a blustery fall evening, and I had it all to myself. I had an appetite, and I wanted to be out in the evening, so I decided to treat myself to dinner at The Strand Smokehouse.
It’s an establishment in my section of Queens (Astoria), or at least a restaurant that’s grown a following for good food and the modern but casual atmosphere that’s harder to find amidst the down-home ethnic staples of Astoria. Not to say I prefer modern-casual to down-home ethnic, but on this blustery night, The Strand was the answer to my call for Ruthie’s Night Out.
The thirty-minute walk from my apartment was filled with crescendos of aroma and a chill in the air that caused me to arrive at The Strand with a handsome appetite. I wandered in to the open dining area, happy but hungry, and also clueless. A friendly server soon approached my wayfaring body and guided me to the counter where I was to order cafeteria-style.
I came to this smokehouse expecting to eat meat. I rarely voluntarily put myself in a situation in which I expect to eat meat, so I felt this solo venture was one in which all stops were to come unplugged. I was truly giddy.
I ordered my pulled pork by the pound. Well, I ordered a 1/4 pound but felt pretty badass doing so, and smiled rather widely when it was served to me in a large porcelain cup. The counter man recommended garlic mashed potatoes to go with it, so I loaded a second cup onto my try and walked over to the bar. I settled on a local IPA, grabbed my silverware roll and sat down at one of several long tables on the The Strand’s patio.
I was cold, excited, and hungry, and consequently ate a bit of both dishes and took a swig of beer in a rapid succession. My first thought was “food, at last!” and my second was “Wait. Oh. Oh man. Wait.”
With a tab coming in around $20, The Strand is the swankiest cafeteria I’ve ever known to exist. But food-wise, it’s definitely the best. With a rather short menu, The Strand is able to really focus on making each item a win. I was satisfied before I cleaned my cups, a sure sign that my meal was big on flavor. The sparsely populated but very large classy dining hall atmosphere is something I could skip in the future, but food from a cup and beer from a jar will inevitably win me over.