One Station Square
Forest Hills, NY 11375
(718) 793-2203

I know I know. I just reviewed a Thai place. How many Thai restaurants can one poor slob go to? Well, apparently a whole lot. Look! Another new one opened up right behind you!

Picking up JenX from her soon-to-be-vacant abode, we drove over to the Tudor-style, cobblestoned loveliness that is Station Square. Seriously, this is a gorgeous place. In the spring, the trees flower and the petals slowly fall like pink snow. Just one block separates it from the crowds and boutiques on Austin Street, but somehow it manages to feel miles away. Almost silent.

There used to be a restaurant here called The Melting Pot, a fondue joint. It went out of business and the location sat empty and decrepit for years. I remember how you could walk up to the window and look in, through the chipped and broken glass, and see booths and chairs and tablecloths still there, untouched and dusty. There was continuous consternation that this neighborhood embarrassment was never fixed up and re-rented to a new tenant. Some speculated that it was slated to become an art gallery. Some said a tea lounge. I merely prayed, "Dear Lord. Please don't let it become a nail salon."

In moved Jade Eatery & Lounge, ending all debate about how long this beautiful part of Forest Hills would remain vacant. Jade calls itself "Asian fusion", and whatever definition may be floating through your head right now, it actually means "Thai-with-a-sushi-bar". On the one hand, Jade is everything I want a restaurant of its size (it's not small) to be. But on the other hand, it disappoints on a fundamental level.

The One Hand: The Physical Space.
Jade is made up of three parts: Bar, Lounge, and Restaurant. The bar is at the back, but there's also a side entrance. It seems clear that Jade wants to be the place where sexy twenty-somethings choose to go when they want a hip place to get a fancy drink and aren't in the mood for something that ends in "-tini" and don't want to head to Manhattan. The DJ spins the music loud, so you'll be given a great excuse to lean in right to kissing distance with your date. Off to the side is a hallway that bends around the corner to the lounge. It doesn’t open until later, but when it does, it meets its guests with some dimly lit tables and pillow-topped sofas. Very sexy. A scene from Eyes Wide Shut could have been filmed here.

Jade is very modern and, from a style point of view, very different. Very trendy. I welcome this with open arms. Forest Hills already has plenty of restaurants that have decided to allow the stereotypes that follow their cuisine to dictate their style. A good example of what I mean can be found at certain Italian restaurants nearby. Frank Sinatra on the radio, Chianti bottles with candles poking from their spouts, red checker tablecloths. This may be traditional, but traditional is the polar opposite of original. Jade's restaurant is large and is both divided in half by, and dominated by, a large reflecting pool. Flower petals float within. Columns lined with tea lights glow all night long. It's a beautiful space. I've long wanted a trendy place nearby that would encourage the perception of Forest Hills as a place where restaurants can come and experiment. Where I could take friends who may be reluctant to travel out to Queens and have them wanting to return.

The Other Hand: The Food.
The diplomatic way to express myself is just to say that Jade's food leaves a lot of room for improvement. As I said, it's Thai. At current count, Forest Hills has 13 Italian restaurants, 8 Japanese restaurants, and 7 Thai restaurants. This leads me to compare FoHi with one of those intersections where every corner houses a different gas station. But instead of gas, they're sell ing pasta, sushi, or satay. So I’m disappointed. French would have been nice. Or Moroccan. Or Napa Valley Neo-Revisionist. Fine, I made that one up. I think.

But more than that, the food isn't spectacular. JenX and I both love coconut soups, so we started with the Gai Tom Kha soup. I liked it, though it was slightly on the thin side. She thought it was too salty. We split the Lollipop Chicken appetizer, which was pretty good for what's basically seasoned fried chicken with a dipping sauce. I wish they had this as a main dish. It would have changed the rest of the review. One thing nice, and this is something that may make no difference to you, is that they have Heineken Light on the beer list. To me, a good light beer is a big plus. JenX asked for the Thai Iced Tea and she thought it was really good. She complains that too often it will come excessively sweet. But Jade's was just right.

When our main courses came, JenX and I seemed to swap tastebuds. She ordered the Pad Thai, which is something that everyone should do when going to a Thai place for the first time. If they can't get the pad thai right, it's a bad sign. She liked it. I tried it and hey, it was pretty good. I wish I got it. Sadly, I chose the Chicken Snow Peas & Carrots, which was a stir-fried chicken veggie dish in a garlic sauce. A salty-garlic sauce. Or more accurately, a garlicy-salt sauce. Adding the rice helped, but I couldn't finish it.

When we went, Jade seemed to be specializing its desserts on lava cakes, but JenX and I opted to hit up Eddie's Sweet Shop over on Metropolitan for ice cream sundaes.

I really, really want to like Jade. I want to love Jade. And because their location represents Forest Hills more than anything else does, I want it to succeed probably more than any other restaurant in the area. Jade's success could boost the dining presence of the entire neighborhood; it's failure could damage it. They have the atmosphere down cold and they aren't expensive. Jade's entrees are where their problem lies. The next time I go, and go back I will, I'll focus my tongue on the appetizers.

Get here before 8 to make sure you get a seat without having wait. By 8:30 Jade'll be packed and have to wait. Luckily, they have a cool bar to get a drink at. If you can, ask for seats in the middle and not at the micro-booths along the wall. They aren't that comfy. The bar and louge are awesome. I hope that the restaurant catches up soon. Jade's aiming to be the destination of the local hotties, and judging by the girls I saw there...

The total amount of cash we laid down before we left was $65.

UPDATE, 5/29/07:
A few days ago, on May 26th, I received an email from Jade's owners. They wanted me to know that they've updated and tweaked the menu and they encouraged me to return. So it may be that your experience with Jade's menu will differ from my own. When I go back and give it another go, I'll write my experience up.

UPDATE, 6/19/07:
Earlier this week, Jade was approved for outdoor seating and I heard a rumor that rear garden seating might be coming. I hope so. And I sternly hope that more restaurants move into station square. LANDLORDS and CO-OP BOARDS, I'm talking to YOU.

UPDATE, 8/6/07:
I just recently to Jade with a friend, hoping, for one, that the food would have improved since my last full meal here. She didn't really know the neighborhood and I wanted to give the impression that Forest Hills was a cool place. Naturally, Jade was the place to go.

A few weeks ago, Jade started seating customers outside. But we wanted something indoors. Okay, she did. I didn't ask why. We sat at the bar near the Moroccan Lounge in the back until we were seated by the central reflecting pool by a very friendly, but very confused waiter where we ordered our appetizer, the Sushi Pizza. I wasn't really expecting much. Actually, I was expecting very little. Sushi and pizza combined, while eating in what's pretty much a Thai restaurant, screams doom. But holy crap was I wrong. The fish, tuna and salmon and yellowtail (I think) sat on a rice wafer crust and came with a ginger soy dipping sauce. It was excellent. This was one of the best intros to a meal I've had in a very long time. My friend and I followed it up with a spicy Pad Thai, which I liked a lot, and the Jade Salmon, which she liked even more. Alas, since I wasn't taking notes, I can't really write much about them. This update is really here to wholeheartedly endorse the sushi pizza.

Update 10/7/07:
Prospect Parks came over for a visit and since the wait was too long at Five Burros, we decided to sit by the cobblestones at Jade. First, the booze. She went generic with a vanilla Stoli and Ginger Ale followed by a Bacardi and Coke. I picked off the cocktail menu: the Superior Mojito followed by the Razz Mojito. Basically, they were the same drink, but the Razz used raspberry rum. Both were strong, but needed more sugar. The couple at the table next to us had ordered coffee and when they left, I pilfered some sugar packets.

Our appetizers were the Lemon Fried Calamari, served with a tamarind dipping sauce, and the Popcorn Shrimp, swankily served in a martini glass with a cilantro dipping sauce. Parks liked her popcorn shrimp and liked it more when she dipped it in my tamarind sauce. As for me, I didn't think the calamari was bad, but there wasn't much of it, and it was kind of blandly dull. We also split a special sushi roll, the Fleet Street Roll. It's yellowtail tempura topped with lobster and tabiko roe under a sweet sauce. It was very good, but next time I want to try the Burns Street Roll or the Jade Roll. The entrees we ordered were good. I got the Pad Thai, which I've had before numerous times, and she ordered the Red Penang Curry Rice Noodles with Chicken. Good, not very spicy, and humongous. She gave a healthy portion of it to me and there was still enough to take home.

Our four cocktails, two appetizers, two entrees, a sushi roll, with tax and tip, was $115.

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