The Strand Smokehouse in Astoria – ‘cue, cocktails, and consternation

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    Image source: Village Voice

    We’ve been keeping an eye on the continuing story of (to some) controversial The Strand Smokehouse, a new barbecue and liquor spot on Broadway in Astoria. We haven’t gotten to try much the food, as we’ve heard mixed reviews about it, but are looking forward to checking it out once they iron out the natural kinks that are present in so many new spots these days.

    Reports on the meats range from glowing (“tender and juicy” regarding the roast beef, and “some of the most delicious in the city” regarding the biscuits as part of brunch) to more critical (“coagulated fat and tough skin” and “pulled pork and ribs — both were dry and not much flavor,” two reviews on Yelp). We’ve heard terrific things about the booze, and that’s understandable, as Dan Bronson has been consulted on what to stock and serve – Dan is part of genius behind the drinks menu at the cozy Crescent & Vine on Ditmars (GMAP) and he really knows his stuff when it comes to beer and liquor especially (we saw him at The Strand on their very first day they were open, too).

    barrels-at-the-strand-astoria-queens

    The space itself is massive – apparently they can seat over 200 people in there; it was, after all, formerly a Blockbuster video spot (rumor has it that there used to be a bowling alley underground there, too). It’s described as “rustic,” too – lots of wood, communal tables, and a sort of lived-in feel. Recent reports are that the place has been packed in the evenings and the customers run the gamut from groups of singles, to families, and larger. There’s nothing like piles of meat to attract a crowd, though another criticism is that the meat does run out at certain points of the day. Guess at that point it’s time to focus on drinks.

    liars-club-the-strand-astoria-queens

    The Liars Club cocktail at The Strand 

    Along with the flurry of critiques and reviews in the media about the food and drink at The Strand, there has been some criticism about the way the owners are conducting business there. The NY Daily News touched on the controversy in a recent article, too. Folks from neighboring apartment buildings are dismayed by the noise level and smoking (cigarettes). Members of the Crescent Tenants Association, representing about 110 co-op apartments most affected by the activity at the Strand (their building borders the restaurant), have been the most vocal in their protest of the place. You can read more about this aspect of the situation here.

    the-strand-live-musicians-astoria-queens

    Image source: Dead Amble on Facebook – they held their CD release party there

    In the Daily News article, Executive Chef Eric Milley states that they have heard the complaints and made some effort to accommodate the neighbors by closing at 11pm every night. They’ve also decreased the volume of the live bands – music is an important aspect of the place, and no doubt they’d like to keep it going.

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    Image source: NYDN – The Strand’s backyard patio

    The backyard, which isn’t really used much right now because it’s cold and winter, may become a source of a heightened decibel environment once winter becomes a memory, what with patrons enjoying the warm night air, chatting with each other with a beer in hand during summers. Such is the nature of outdoor patios/gardens/backyards attached to restaurants and drinking holes. City Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Astoria) weighed in (he has also heard the complaints from neighbors) and says, “Even if the bar owner does everything he… can to obey the laws, there will be people outside talking, laughing and smoking and that’s a nuisance.” In other words, the bar owner can only do so much.

    Such a place as The Strand, with its emphasis on barbecue, good liquor and live music, is a big draw for people both inside and outside the borough, thus contributing positively to the economy and boosting Astoria’s reputation as a food and entertainment destination in NYC. It will be interesting to see what happens.

    How about you – have you been to The Strand? How did you like your experience? We’d love to know – leave us a comment here or via twitter at @queensnycity.

    The Strand Smokehouse, 25-27 Broadway, Astoria, NY 11106 (GMAP)

    The Strand, a new Astoria smokehouse and beer hall, draws critical praise but also neighbors’ ire [NYDN]
    Queue and ‘Cue at Strand Smokehouse in Queens [VV]
    The Strand Smokehouse Throws it Down [Fooditka]
    Biscuits, gravy, and honky-tonk at The Strand Smokehouse [Amuse Bouche]

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