The alternate title of this post was going to be “small businesses that we are rooting really hard for to succeed, but are slightly worried about”, but I figured you knew what I meant when I said we were going to talk about food in Long Island City.
Thanks to a tip from my intrepid eater friend Crystal, we’ve been paying visits to the Chimney Cake ladies, who specialize in a Hungarian/Transylvanian pastry that is most likely like nothing you have ever seen. To make these fantastical pastries, a danish-like dough is wrapped around a rolling pin, rolled in sugar and then baked, forming a crisp crust. Delicious, with just a touch of sweetness, and hints of citrus, these unusual treats which are baked throughout the day and can be bought plain or rolled in a number of toppings including coconut, walnut, almond and cinnamon.
Roughly the size of a forearm, these can be shared between two people if you’re not feeling too peckish. And if you are just the slightest bit OCD like myself, there’s a bonus: the baked dough unrolls into a very satisfying clean, smooth spiral as you eat. On the last visit, they had samples of a poppy seed roll, which garnered a solid thumbs down from the other member of the party, and mild approval from myself. Perhaps just an acquired taste.
Apologies for the thumb in the photo above. I got excited and started acting like baking paparazzi. Snap snap! SNAP! In your face. The nice ladies were very patient. The pins above are what the chimney cakes are wrapped and baked on.
We ran into this extremely cute little bakery Little Oven down the block, manned by a sweet man who was zipping between baking, restocking, and serving us at the same time. The brightly colored macarons were presented like precious gems in narrow lucite trays, and are definitely worth stopping by for. Light, and airy, with the thinnest of crusts, and just a touch of chewiness on the interior, these macarons were spot on and a serious contender for one of the best in the city.
This is where I got overexcited again and almost overturned a very cute but very small table. A table for dainty people, who don’t hit their knees on things and carry their bags so don’t catch on anything. Sometimes I feel like a I Love Lucy skit, but I’m afraid to say that out loud because I’m worried someone will confirm it’s true. Life is hard. Funny hard.
I happened upon Waterfront Crab House years ago, as the indoor alternative to the Water Taxi Beach across the way. The building in which it stands, built in 1881, (1881!) housed Tony Miller’s hotel, the social hub of the then-bustling Long Island City. Long Island City was once the termination point for the Long Island Railroad – those who wanted to get back and forth from Manhattan had to catch a ferry at Borden Avenue. The bar saw the likes of Theodore Roosevelt, Russell Sage, and Grover Cleveland, and also served as the official hangout for Patrick “Battle Ax” Gleason, the mayor of Long Island City, before it became part of New York City. I digress, but it’s fascinating.
Unfortunately, the Waterfront is now surrounded by construction, and is incredibly hard to find (well, obviously, just go down the sketchy, unmarked street that you thought was just construction access), but is well worth patronizing for the atmosphere and above average fare. And the buckets of peanuts.
Check out all the boxing memorabilia. TGIF would go swoon at the sight.
In conclusion, Long Island City = scrappy. I’m rooting for it, maybe you will too?
P.S. I was being strict about everything being in easy walking distance, but if you’re in the area and want some culture, the Noguchi Museum and the Museum of the Moving Image are well worth checking out.
Here’s Part I of my Long Island City post if you missed it. Check out my posts on Fort Greene, Bleecker Street, Chinatown, visiting the Natural History Museum and the Met as well if you’re in the clicking mood.