>> 2/25/14

31-86 37th Street
Astoria, NY 11103
(718) 932-3331

Myna and I clearly are in the coveted wine bar demographic in that they covet how often we go to them. The latest on our rotation was Winegasm closer to her neck of the woods in Astoria. If anyone ever wondered where all the post-college folks go when Brooklyn gets too cool for its own lease renewal, it's Astoria. New restaurants open every five minutes, housing stock is tight but still relatively cheap, there are taxis, the age of tenants has plummeted, and you can still grab a beer at Bohemian Hall like your ancestors did. Parking sucks a big fat golf ball though, so take the subway. Learn from my failures.
The crowd at Winegasm is decidedly young and hip. I arrived very early and nursed an upscale beer served with hipster irony from can poured into a wine glass while catching up on the articles in my phone's RSS reader. Eight articles about whether Arizona is going to lose hosting the Superbowl later, Myna arrived and we got a the last table left. A word about seating. Winegasm is, like so many cool places these days, enamored by the supertable where everyone gets to squeeze together next to one another like they were eating at a medieval castle waiting for Robin Hood to show up and crack wise with King John. If this isn't your thing, and it isn't mine, then arrive early enough to snag a normal table by the window or on the wall.

Unless an unending stream of coffee counts as eating, I hadn't eaten all day, and Myna had just come from the gym. So we were a bit hungry. We ordered seven small plates. This was perhaps too much, but I tell myself that nothing is too good for this blog. I eat for you, the reader.

I was disappointed that the rabbit plate that was on the online menu was gone from the real one, and sadly, the kitchen had run out of calamari. Still, we were easily able to find seven things that looked good. First up, the Baked Bacon Prunes, a wine bar staple. They arrived scalding hot, so if you get this (and, of course, since no one goes to wine bars and doesn't get this, you will) be careful of biting in too quickly. They're sweet and salty and savory all at the same time and it's a small enough little dish that you can inhale them quickly enough without ruining your appetite. This was followed by the stunningly good Potato Mushroom Croquettes, which, because they were potato, probably could ruin your appetite if you had enough of them. However, they're small and you only get two, so we plowed through unperturbed. At this point, there was a rush on the kitchen and as a way to tide us over while other items cooked, we ordered the Spiced Truffle Honey spread. This will also fill you up since it's pita bread, honey, and goat cheese. The honey spread was good, but sweet and heavy. Sadly, the pita bread was not better than mediocre and since it was untoasted, left my mouth feeling a bit clammy. I'd certainly recommend picking up a spread dish (whether it's this or hummus or pate or whatever you want) as an alternative to appetizers as opposed to in addition to them and I'd make sure that they lightly toast the pita bread.

All of the food was good, but the weakest of this goodness was the Margherita Pizzetta. This was wholly the fault of the balsamic syrup that had been been drizzled on the top. Margherita pizza, with its specifically sweeter tomato sauce and sweet basil leaves is already sweet enough. Adding the balsamic syrup, which was itself very sweet, turned it into a candy. It was too much, at least for me. The opposite of this was the Pork and Apples, a pork belly dish that was also sweet, but in a good way. The pork was cooked to have a crisp crust and it wasn't half fat. The meat came served on a small bed of apple sauce and thin slices of apple. It was delicious. Finally, we ordered both crostinis on the menu, the Mushroom Crostini and the Steak Crostini, and both were very very good. The mushroom crostinis were piled high with mushroom and asparagus that had been sauteed in red wine under a cheese blend. The steak crostinis were piled high with seared chimichurri marinated hangar steak, mozzarella, and peppers under a lemon caper aioli. The toasts were neither limp nor burned to a mouth slicing crisp. These are the kind of small plates I wish I could make.

Winegasm has a cocktail menu as well as a wine list. So, since trying new cocktails is a favorite pastime of ours, Myna and I started with a cocktail each before moving on to wine. Both of the cocktails were fine, but not much better than fine. Also, and I fully recognise that this is entirely pretention, one of the cocktails used blue curacao; blue cocktails always conjure up a gimmickyness that I associate with Star Trek: Deep Space Nine reruns and suburban girls-night-out parties at TGIFridays. Next time I'm going to stay with wine.

Seven small plates, five drinks, tax, and tip came to $140.

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