Astoria, Food and Drink, Restaurants
Jul 02, 2013

The Shady Lady – Global Comfort Food in Astoria

We attended a tasting at The Shady Lady on 30th Avenue and enjoyed much delicious food—from seafood cocktail to branzino, pasta to Reuben Rolls, to fried pickles and roasted beets, and more!

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Last week, I was invited by fellow blogger and Editor In Chief of BORO, Bradley Hawks, to a dinner at The Shady Lady, one of the newer restaurants that has opened up on 30th Avenue. I hadn’t been yet, so I jumped at the chance to attend the tasting and get an idea of what The Shady Lady had to offer. We were joined by Jeff Orlick of I Want More Food (and known for his momo crawl in Jackson Heights and other food tours); Veronica Chan of OXO and LIC resident; and Channaly Phillip of The Epoch Times. The meal was really a delight and I enjoyed it quite a bit; my dining companions were lovely, too!

We started out with a cocktail—I chose The Girl Upstairs, which is gin based and mixed with St. Germaine, muddled cucumber, and lemon juice. It was light and dry and very tasty. I loved the distinct flavor of cucumber, which lent a delightfully fresh flavor.

the-girl-upstairs-cocktail-the-shady-lady-astoria-queens

After that, the dishes came out pretty quickly. First out was a seafood cocktail. Now, I’m usually not a big fan of shellfish or cocktail sauce, but this was different—or maybe my tastes are changing. Anyway, I liked this quite a bit. I especially liked the cocktail sauce, which had nice bits of cilantro and flavors of lemon to brighten everything up, and bonus: chunks of avocado in the mix. Avocado makes everything better, pretty much.

seafood-cocktail-the-shady-lady-astoria-queens

When this crispy gnocchi and grilled octopus dish came, I thought the octopus was chicken sausage! But nope, it’s octopus, just sliced into coins. I liked that the crisp gnocchi were not oily; the octopus was tender and meaty. The salty, briny kalamata olives were really a wonderful contrast, along with the roasted red peppers. The whole thing was absolutely delicious.

crispy-gnocchi-grilled-octopus-the-shady-lady-astoria-queens

The Tequila Lime Chicken – small pieces of breast meat – came in a spicy (yes, it had a kick) chipotle sauce and was served with several tostones and lettuce, in case we wanted to do chicken wraps. I just went straight to the chicken, though, and liked it on its own, though the lettuce wrap was a nice option. The tostones were not oily, either, though not very flavorful compared to the chicken (but then, when are tostones really full of flavor? I do prefer the sweeter cousin, maduros, in general, but that’s beside the point).

tequila-lime-chicken-the-shady-lady-astoria-queens

Next up was the mac and cheese. On the menu there are three mac and cheese options – Classic, Carbonara, and Truffles n Shrooms. We went for the Carbonara, which incorporated smoked bacon, prosciutto cotto, and fontina cheese. This was a crazy creamy mess—in the very best way! It’s very rich, too, so a couple of people could easily split it as part of a meal. I really liked the bacon along with the creamy cheese and pasta, and the toasted bread crumbs added a crispy contrast. Next time, though, I want to try the mushroom option.

carbonara-mac-and-cheese-the-shady-lady-astoria-queens

The spinach and feta fritters were really a contrast to the mac and cheese—they were light and savory, flavored with spinach, leeks, and feta, and came with a lovely tzatziki sauce. This is a great vegetarian option.

spinach-and-feta-fritters-the-shady-lady-astoria-queens

Another vegetarian option—and great drinking companion—is the plate of fried pickles, which are actually pickle spears instead of slices; this is the first time I’ve encountered the fried pickle genre as a spear. I was really charmed by this configuration and I also loved the creamy horseradish sauce.

fried-pickles-horseradish-sauce-the-shady-lady-astoria-queens

Continuing on the meatless side of things, we move to the roasted beet dish. This is a beautifully constructed dish! It’s like a plate of little boats – endive topped with small cubes of beats, bits of orange, and topped with a gorgonzola mousse studded with a walnut. Such a great combination of flavors and I absolutely loved it.

roasted-beets-the-shady-lady-astoria-queens

One of my very favorite dishes of the evening was the Reuben Roll. As I mentioned last Friday, the dish is “made with corned beef, sauerkraut, gruyere, and caraway. It’s a tightly rolled reuben sandwich that is fried and then sliced like a sushi roll, and plated atop Russian dressing.” My mouth is salivating just thinking about it.

reuben-roll-shady-lady-astoria-queens

We also tried crab cakes a.k.a. Crabby Cakes. These cakes have no filler and are made with jumbo lump crab meat. It’s served with a brandy remoulade and roasted corn. Fantastic.

crabby-cakes-the-shady-lady-astoria-queens

We also had pasta. The dish is made with cavatappi and mixed with sausage, tomatoes, sauteed ramps and topped with a little cheese. What else can I say about this dish but YUM?!? But seriously, it was really good – I loved the balanced mix of acid, spicy, savory, and meaty.

spicy-sausage-pasta-the-shady-lady-astoria-queens

The Duck Confit Empanadas were a real contrast—they tasted like Thanksgiving a bit, I think because of the butternut squash puree. I liked that aspect a lot and it made this dish one of the more memorable of the evening.

duck-confit-the-shady-lady-astoria-queens

I was really impressed by this grilled branzino, which had a wonderful creaminess to it. It was extremely appealing and the flavor of the fish was fresh as well. They accompanying vegetables were also very good. I would order this again for sure.

grilled-branzino-the-shady-lady-astoria-queens

The final thing I ate was one of these biscuits paired with pulled pork. The pork was nice and meaty and the sauce tasted almost fruity to me. It was a great combination! And the biscuits were also very good—they were light and a good match for the pulled pork.

pulled-pork-on-biscuits-the-shady-lady-astoria-queens

Here’s the damage from the five of us that night.

demolished-blogger-meal-the-shady-lady-astoria-queens

And the place really filled up as we progressed through the evening.

full-house-evening-the-shady-lady-astoria-queens

The service while we were there was also very good, and I noticed it wasn’t just because we were bloggers there as the guests of the establishments, but I saw great service happening throughout the restaurant. The owner told us that service is very important to them, saying, “You go out and pay about three times what you would make at home—you deserve great service!”

They also have a brunch menu, which I’m looking forward to trying (I hear the biscuits and gravy as well as the corned beef hash are excellent). And there’s good happy hour specials with house cocktails, draft and bottle beer, and wine. They do an early evening happy hour and a later happy hour called “Shady Hour” (11 p.m to 1 a.m.) as well, with $5 cocktails and $4 beer/wine. They’re also open late night into the early hours of the morning, anywhere from 2 a.m. to 4 a.m. (Saturday). This would be a great place to stop in after partying the evening away. Or even if you’re just up late and want some tasty grub.

Many thanks to The Shady Lady staff for taking care of us and providing such a delicious meal! I’ll be back.

The Shady Lady, 34-19 30th Ave., Astoria, New York 11103, (718) 440-9081, Facebook

About Meg Cotner

Meg Cotner was trained as a harpsichordist and now works as a freelance writer and editor. She is the author of "Food Lovers' Guide to Queens," and is a skilled and avid home cook, baker, and preserver.

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