By the Gazette
George’s at Kaufman Astoria Studio was reinvented on March 20th to stellar reviews from its many fans and this writer as well. Formerly the Astor Room, “George’s” tips its hat to the recently deceased George S. Kaufman, who founded Kaufman Astoria Studio, where stars such as W.C. Fields, Rudolph Valentino, and the Marx Brothers perfected their craft and dined here, in this very place. Today, hit shows including “Orange is the New Black” and “Shades of Blue” are filmed here, and the Astoria luster shines brightly with a thousand stars.
Joe Nikci, the gregarious manager, could be an actor himself with his dynamic personality. He welcomes all his guests warmly as they embark on a culinary and historic journey. Each night, Sophie sings and plays soothing piano music to complete the mood. Black and white photos of screen actors grace the wall and well-dressed servers dote on you like a celebrity. George’s is equally suited to a weeknight dinner, a date destination, or weekend night out. The Sunday brunch is very popular too and there are private party rooms for up to 60 people for your private or corporate event.
Settle in with a signature cocktail and let the day melt away. “George’s 12” is named for the founder’s favorite cocktail and the “Valentino” is mixed with gin, cucumber, lime, and simple syrup. The spicy “Marx Brothers Mezcal” gets heat from jalapenos muddled with mango and smoky mezcal. The wine list is well designed, and the classic bar is a great place to meet after work for your favorite cocktail.
The menu is cleverly designed as a newspaper, and it changes monthly to reflect the seasonal changes to take advantage of the finest produce available. We started with a very impressive beef tartar made of the finest diced filet mignon, blended with onion, herbs, salt, and pepper, and topped with a Scotch egg which was another treat in itself, breaded in crispy pancko crumbs ($14). Next, creamy buratta cheese imported from Italy was flanked by spears of verdant asparagus, roasted peppers, and melt-in-your mouth prosciutto. From the sea come very fresh oysters, flash fried then baked with spinach and horseradish cream, and yellow fin tuna carpaccio, marinated in citrus and served with orange sauce and micro greens. Even the fried calamari is special here, made with a secret crunchy coating that you’ve never had before. All appetizers are very generously sized for sharing and can be ordered at the bar as well, to go along with your cocktails.
In keeping with the ‘show business’ theme, a traditional Caesar salad for two is mixed table-side on an elegant cart, where the skilled waiter mashes garlic, anchovies, and capers to create the dressing and tosses it fresh for service in elegant bowls. An iceberg wedge is also on the menu, topped with jumbo shrimp, endive, shrimp salad, and avocado for a spectacular salad. We sampled bowls of white chocolate cauliflower soup, with a unique, mellow flavor and smooth texture that we loved, also nicely presented.
Entrées are elegantly served and cover fine steaks, pork, chicken, and fish options. The “Valentino’s Pasta” replicates the 6-foot long pasta seen in a photo of him and our skilled waiter ‘sauced’ this homemade, lengthy spaghetti table-side, mixing it with a rich tomato sauce with onion and spicy Italian sausage for a heck of a great dish, which we shared. Next, the Coca-Cola pork chop was presented after being marinated and tenderized in Coca-Cola, perfectly cooked, and sliced off the bone so you can dive right in. This massive Berkshire pork chop is the real deal, served with roasted apples and herb spaetzle. The dry aged prime ribeye cuts like “buttah” and tastes delicious, served with potatoes, green beans, and baby carrots. Black sea bass is cooked in parchment paper with green olives, brussel sprouts, tomato and cannellini beans for a light, flavorful dish. There are simple ‘go to’ dishes too, including fried chicken and waffles, brick chicken, and the George burger, served with truffle fries. Speaking of fries, try the Portobello fries, thick spears of that meaty mushroom fried in a crunchy coating.
If you’re still breathing, share the apple tart tatin, a crepe-like dessert with thinly sliced apples, served with vanilla ice cream. The lavender crème Brulee is another treat, smooth, creamy, and delicately flavored with real lavender, served with shaved chocolate sprinkled with olive oil powder, that Joe makes himself. Enjoy a cognac, port, or other after dinner drink and a cup of rich coffee to end this perfect meal.
Make reservations for their very popular Sunday Brunch served 11:30 to 3:30 where there are both breakfasty items like omelets, benedicts, and challah French toast, and lunchy items like steak and eggs, burgers and chicken and waffles. Soon, you can enjoy that brunch outside on the patio. George’s is a great place to dine after a visit to the Museum of the Moving Image, or a movie at the multiplex, both just down the street. George’s at Kaufman Astoria Studio offers a unique dining experience where top-notch cuisine, fine cocktails, excellent service, soothing ambiance, and live music come together, all wrapped up in hospitality. George’s is open for dinner from Wednesday to Sunday and for Sunday Brunch from 11:30 to 3:30. Plan your private party at George’s and roll out the red carpet for your friends and family!
At Kaufman Astoria Studios
35-11 35th Avenue, Astoria
(corner of 36th Street) 718.255.1947