LIC Market: New American Cuisine Finds A Home in Queens (NYC)
“Why should we go to Queens?” my mother asked, the inflection in her voice carrying several notes of apprehension. “The last time I was there cars were on fire in the street.”
“Well,” I said with an eyebrow raised, “that was a while ago. Trust me, things have changed.”
With the matriarch in town for the long weekend The Intolerants found themselves racing across four of NYC’s five boroughs. We started after the sun pushed its way overhead and stayed out until the last few slivers of light slipped past the horizon. We pushed our faces into the wind and shielded our faces from the sun. We rode the subway to the far reaches of NYC’s biggest boroughs and clocked countless kilometres on foot. We traversed the Bronx, made our way from Harlem to NoHo, walked from Brooklyn to Times Square and pitter pattered across the Queensboro Bridge.
Part of our adventuring involved Top of the Rock and MoMA thanks to a combined ticket that allows access to both venues on separate days. An added benefit of this ticket is free entry to MoMA PS1, the little brother to the Museum of Modern Art and a contemporary art space in the Long Island City neighbourhood of Queens. Regardless of whether you’re into contemporary art, it’s worth taking advantage of this particular ticket given that it forces you into a different part of the city (Manhattan can get a little staid after awhile) to appreciate the up-and-coming borough of Queens: the former residence of the street art mecca that was 5-pointz and the new home for the Brooklyn and Manhattan trendsetters (read: hipsters) who are snapping up apartments and brownstones in former industrial areas for a fraction of what they would cost anywhere else in the city.
As part of Queens’ bourgeoning coolness, there’s galleries popping up within a few blocks of the Court Square subway station and a handful of solid restaurants are finding success in and around Long Island City. These are places that offer affordable and delicious eats that mainly cater to the business set (the Citibank high rise towers over the area) and the young trendsetters that have a nose for places like the one I’m about to divulge now.
Owned by chef Alex Schindler, LIC Market is located around the corner from MoMA PS1 and is, literally, a five minute walk from Court Square. It is also, far and away, one of the best restaurants I’ve come across in a long time. There’s a quaint courtyard/garden out back that allows the soft buttery glow of the sun to stream in all day long, and as for the interior: whitewashed brick walls, old park benches and bucolic wooden tabletops lend an inviting and antique touch to an interior that makes you want to stay all day long.
Relying on local farms and vendors, LIC Market has crafted a menu borne from micro-harvests, organic goods and meats that were ethically raised and slaughtered. Serving up breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner (though not always on the same day of the week…make sure to double check the opening hours!) the menu consists of delectable options such as roasted beets, shredded brisket, the frittata of the day, steel cut oats, slow roasted duck hash and shirred eggs. For dinner the options stay seasonal but get a touch more creative with items like charred scallops, cockles with chorizo, red grouper with roasted red fennel and a mouth watering rib-eye cap with…wait for it…truffle fried potatoes. To accompany your meal there is an array of beers and wines to choose from with a wine list that features several Italian, German, French, Portuguese, American and Spanish reds and whites. There’s enough to satisfy the pickiest of tastebuds.
Another particularly nice aspect of LIC Market is their vegetarian/vegan options, so if you have troublesome dietary restrictions/allergies there’s bound to be something you can sink your teeth into. Speak up when your server comes by and they’ll be plenty kind in helping you navigate the menu.
After our – rather disturbing – visit to PS1, we rocked up to LIC famished and were eager for food that would be quick, nourishing and pleasing to the senses as well. With not one burning car to be seen in the area (my mother’s observation) she quickly snapped up a pot of tea and the frittata of the day while Mr. Intolerant chose the duck hash and I went for a bacon laced lentil soup and a portion of grilled Brussels sprouts so large, I let out an audible gasp when it was placed in front of me.
When the food came the conversation stopped and we put all of our focus onto our plates, only coming up for air much later on. Mr. Intolerant inhaled his duck hash and enjoyed his meal save the cider that he wasn’t too fond of (can’t win ’em all I guess). Mama Intolerant did the same with hers and also took a helping of my Brussels sprouts as an act of kindness. I enjoyed my lentil soup, finding it to be the right kind of filling, and while I could have done with a half portion less of the sprouts, I liked the crunch of toasted almonds scattered throughout my plate and how the sweetness of the cranberries offset the bitter tang of those little acerbic sprouts.
After stuffing our bellies and wiping our mouths we paid the bill and headed back out into Queens. Though we could have faffed away our Sunday in this great find, the city was waiting for us. There was not a minute to waste. Thanks to LIC Market we were well fuelled for the journey, and I was also pleased that my second experience at this quaint (and still hidden) establishment remained delicious and wholesome.
An experience that I’m quite sure won’t be my last.
Monday and Tuesday: 7:00 am – 3:30 pm
Wednesday, Thursday and Friday: 7:00 am – 3:30 pm + 6:00 – 10:00 pm
Saturday: 10:00 am – 3:30 pm + 6:00 – 10:00 pm
Sunday: 10:00 am – 3:30 pm