SD #10: Beer, ice cream, and Chinese food. Can there be a better way to spend a Saturday?

Thanks to the wackiness and utter lack of both accuracy and currency in the Yahoo Yellow Pages, there are two recurring themes in our Serial Dining Woodside adventure:  Restaurants that aren’t really restaurants, and restaurants that are long gone.  It adds a certain sense of mystery and adventure, because unless we recognize the street address right away, we’re really not sure what’s going to be there when we get there.  This was one of those times.  Here are the next four places on the Serial Dining Woodside  restaurant list:

Breslin & Sweeney, 3950 61st St
Camilo Coffee Shop Inc, 6929 Queens Blvd
Carvel Ice Cream & Bakery, 5826 Roosevelt Ave
China Taste Bl Co, 4553 46th St

The address for Breslin & Sweeney sounded an awful lot like it would be right under the 61st St subway station, so we Google Street Viewed it to find out exactly what it was.  Turns out, is both not really a restaurant and not actually called Breslin & Sweeney.  It’s the Station Cafe, one of the oldest bars (maybe even THE oldest) in Woodside.  Breslin & Sweeney must be the corporation or partnership that owns the Station Cafe, because the Station Cafe has been the Station Cafe since long before there was a Yahoo Yellow Pages, so we’re not talking about a new establishment replacing an old one here.

The Station Cafe is a bar.  Not a Bar & Grill.  A bar.  So if we planned to eat a meal, we were going to have to include more than one stop on this outing.  I had actually been to Camilo’s before and I was pretty sure it was kaput, and deservedly so.  Their enchiladas were about 99% pure salt.  And Carvel, well, if you live out here you know you can’t get a meal at Carvel.  So… China Taste?  Sounds like classic Chinese take-out, doesn’t it?  There’s gotta be something lunch-like at a place called China Taste.

So the plan:  Visually confirm that Camilo’s is in fact dead, head off to China Taste to get some lunch, enjoy a beer at the Station Cafe, then top it off with an ice cream treat from Carvel.  Off we went.

Sure enough, Camilo’s is dead:

Camilo's: Like Jacob Marley, dead as a doornail.

China Taste is clear on the other side of the Woodside zip code.  In fact, I think the other side of the street it’s on is actually considered Sunnyside.  Sure enough, as we predicted, China Taste is a garden variety Chinese take-out joint.  They do have a tiny dining room with three tables in it, however, so we opted to eat in.  I don’t recommend it:  The only heat they have is provided by a single space heater, and it isn’t aimed at any of the tables.

China Taste

The menu is typical Chinese take-out.  We decided to go for some classic soups and a main course from the Chef’s Specialties section.  I had egg drop, of course, and Allan had won ton soup.  For the  main course, I chose beef and scallops, and Allan had General Tso’s chicken.

The young woman who took our order and served our food was friendly and efficient, although she did yak loudly on her cell phone nonstop during our entire meal.  The food comes in take-out containers with plastic utensils, and they bring it to you on an orange cafeteria tray.  That’s all fine– when you’re dining in at a take-out joint, you have to keep your expectations reasonable.  Here’s the food:

Mmmmm... my favorite, egg drop soup

General Tso eats his chicken out of styrofoam. Believe it or not, this is size small.

Beef & Scallops

I try the egg drop soup everywhere I go that offers it.  China Taste has the best egg drop soup I’ve had so far in Woodside.  Just the right thickness, and just the right amount of salt.  I would definitely order it again.  The scallops in my main dish didn’t seem too terribly fresh– they were a bit fishier than I would have liked.  But the beef was sliced nice and thin and appeared to be of a reasonably high quality, and the veggies and sauce were pretty typical for a dish like this.  With slightly fresher scallops, if you were in a “screw it, let’s just call for Chinese” kind of mood, this dish would do just fine.

The won ton soup was a bit watery but otherwise fine.  General Tso’s Chicken was a slightly sweeter version than we’ve had before, and consisted only of chicken and rice– no veggies at all except for two spears of broccoli that almost certainly wound up in there by accident.  Again, if you were in one of those Chinese take-out moods, this meal would serve.

Total before tax and tip: $17.70

On to the Station Cafe.  Let’s not mince words:  from the outside, this place looks like shit.  The awning is completely torn up, and there is no other ornamentation or signage of any kind to make you want to go inside.  In fact, until you yank on the door and it opens, you kind of wonder if this really is a going concern.  It’s almost like they’d really just as soon not attract new clientele, thanks.  But in we went just the same.

The Station Cafe

I expected to absolutely hate this place.  Actually, I loved it.

This is an old Irish bar that goes wayyyy back, and in fact the very first thing that happened when we walked in the door is that we were greeted by an middle-aged Irish-American barfly with a black eye.  You can’t make this stuff up.  The music is not too loud, and they actually play songs I like.   Mostly 80’s rock.  Two different Queen songs came on while we were there.  There is no food other than a rack of snack-size bags of Lays potato chips.  There is no tap.  About a dozen beers are available in bottles.  The usual complement of liquor bottles were behind the bar, so I assume they do cocktails and shots.  We kept it simple and ordered a couple of Heinekens.

The bar itself is a long, dark, very old-looking wooden affair with mirrors.  A classic.  There is no hipster bartender with a touch-screen “point-of-sale system”.  The till is either an antique mechanical cash register or a reproduction that looks like the real deal.  Directly over it hangs a relic of the days of anti-Irish bigotry:  “Help Wanted.  No Irish Need Apply.”  Tastefully framed for ironic effect.  Emblems from various labor unions adorn the wood of the bar:  Steamfitters, Lathers, and so forth.  Above it all hang soccer jerseys, autographed and framed.  Soccer played all every television in the place save one, which showed the day’s races at Aqueduct.  The bartender, Doreen, was friendly and welcoming and unpretentious and just absolutely everything I want in a bartender.  There’s a pool table in the next room, although it wasn’t getting any use in the middle of the day on Saturday.

I felt more at home at the Station Cafe than I do at most bars, and I can easily see stopping by for a beer again some time.  It’s literally right across the street from the 61st St subway stop, which makes it even more likely I will.

Total price for two beers and a tip: $11

Now, off to Carvel for some ice cream.

If you’re from around here, you already know about Carvel.  If you’re not, I have to wonder what the heck you’re doing reading about local dining in a town you’re nowhere near.  But thanks for reading anyway, and for your benefit, Carvel is a chain of ice cream parlors that sells hard and soft ice cream.  There was a Carvel in my hometown in NJ, and my family celebrated virtually every single birthday and other assorted milestones with ice cream cakes from Carvel.  The founder of the chain, Tom Carvel, did all his own commercials when he was alive, and if you grew up out here, you know that Wednesday was Sundae at Carvel, you’ve almost certain had at least a dozen Flying Saucers in your life, and you probably gave your dad a Fudgie the Whale cake for Father’s Day at least once– a whale of a cake for a whale of a dad!  Here’s a classic Tom Carvel ad for Valentine’s Day.  If you’re about my age, this will bring back memories:

Just for fun, here’s the one where Cookie Puss introduces Cookie O’Puss for St. Patrick’s Day:

Now here’s the Carvel in Woodside, complete with the Buddha that watches over you while you enjoy your frozen treats:

Ice Cream Buddha!

We’ve been living here about four years, and in that time, I think we’ve been to Carvel maybe twice.  So it was nice to have an excuse to go.  I had my all-time Carvel favorite:  vanilla soft-serve with rainbow sprinkles in a cake cone.  Allan had mint chocolate chip in a cup.  Here they are:

Total price for our Carvel run:  under $8, making the total price for today’s outing well under $40 for the day.  Not bad for an entire afternoon.

China Taste Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Carvel on Urbanspoon

Breslin & Sweeney on Urbanspoon

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2 Responses to “SD #10: Beer, ice cream, and Chinese food. Can there be a better way to spend a Saturday?”

  1. SD # 11: Two flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest « The Fat Chick Diaries Says:

    […] chicken dishes before, like the time Allan ordered General Tso’s chicken at China Taste during our last serial dining adventure.  Therefore, I have concluded that adding a ridiculously small amount of broccoli to a dish is […]

  2. SD #17: Yes, This Is About Food We Ate In August. « The Fat Chick Diaries Says:

    […] let me tell you what we discovered when we went back there.  Remember the Station Bar with the totally clapped out awning?  Apparently the owners have been busy sprucing up the place!  Lookie […]

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