My therapist often tells me that it is important to go outside of your comfort zone. She's mostly talking about men -- but if she knew how Manhattan-centric I've become, she'd extend it to boroughs as well. And so, in spite of my deeply ingrained love for Manhattan, I recently traveled to Queens for the promise of good food (and a scruffy hipster). Two birds: one borough.
LIC Market, a quaint country restaurant, opened in 2010 in the shadows of the Citibank building in Long Island City. The streets may be empty compared to downtown Manhattan, but LIC Market is warm and bustling -- if still open enough to snag a table for two early on a Saturday night.
From the kitchen, you can expect a rotating menu of seasonal items. Ingredients are sourced from farms in New York, New Jersey, Vermont and Massachusetts, and produce is often harvested 24 hours before hitting the plates. Dishes are finished with herbs from LIC's own garden and paired with perfect warm-weather drinks like crisp white wines and a blood orange pale ale.
During my visit, my date and I sat in the charming back patio. A draped canopy kept the space covered but airy. Distressed tables, wooden shelves and plenty of hanging planters and flowers gave the space a vintage farmhouse feel.
The mushroom appetizer was deeply earthy and delightful. Coins of French beans, bits of chive and grana Padano topped a host of mushrooms, including French horns and petite namekos, all in a light buttery broth. Then there was the freshly made strozzapreti pasta enveloping chanterelles, asparagus and a flurry of ricotta salata.
Sides ranged from local broccoli rabe to kale with stewed tomatoes and beluga lentils; specials included soft shell crabs (caught the day they're served) with caramelized fennel and roasted corn succotash.
In the end, this journey to Long Island City proved to be fruitful in more ways than one. The food was superb -- and that hipster wasn't bad, either.
Ariel Kanter is an editor at Gilt City.