While there’s been a whole lot of controversy about The Strand, some loving its communal, friendly vibe while others complaining about a disruption in the nabe, I went over to check it out myself to form my own opinion. I’m happy to say that I found it nothing but pleasant, social and really different from the other watering holes we already have in Astoria.
From the minute I stepped in, I was amazed by the size of the space, which housed rows and rows of picnic tables, which were more or less occupied on a random Sunday night. This was a really good sign, I thought, as you can really judge the pedigree of a place on an off night.
There’s a huge bar that’s located to the immediate left of the entrance where you can find 16 locally brewed beers that will change by the season, whiskey in some laaarge barrels and over to the back of the bar is the food counter. I loved that its all really casual and that there’s s no table service, which means you’re in control of when you get your food and drink. Not only do they have barbecued meats such as ribs and brisket, but also homemade roast beef and plenty of interesting sides.
Since I’m a lover of meat, I couldn’t resist splitting a baby back half rib platter and a generous helping of roast beef, together with two sides of baked beans and roasted beets, with my husband. It all seemed like a great combination, providing a mix of indulgence with earthy elements from the veggies.
The ribs were pretty good I’d say but not awesome, and they had to be spruced up with The Strand’s Carolina-style BBQ sauce. However, where they really shined was with the roast beef – not surprisingly, I’ve heard that this item sells out quite frequently, and if you really want it, you better get there early. The meat is tender, juicy and so flavorful – cut a bit thick so you can taste all its meaty glory.
For me, just as exciting as the meat were the sides, which I enjoyed very much. The beets were especially excellent, cut not too thick and dressed simply with some fresh parsley, they exuded freshness. While the beans were a lot heartier, they were executed really nicely too, resembling a rich, deeply-flavored veggie stew.
Since the whole place functions pretty casually, I can’t say much about the service, except for the fact that as soon as we finished our meal, our tray was removed and the table wiped. It was great, unobtrusive service that I can’t say I always find at either Beer Garden.
In terms of costs, they’re pretty moderate, with the above mentioned meal and drinks only setting us back $40 (no tip required!)
The Strand Smokehouse – 25-27 Broadway, Astoria. 718.440.3231