The Queens Kickshaw
Holy Cow! I wanna kick back and have a grilled cheese everyday at the Queens Kickshaw!
Ok instead of stupid puns I would rather start you off with a funny little story about me and grilled cheese. So scratch that, reverse it.
For elementary school I attended the Brown School in Newburyport right down the street from the house that I grew up in. I brought lunch from home because I was a VERY picky eater (funny how things change over time). School lunch actually disgusted me and little snob that I was, I pitied all of my friends who ate it. One day would gross me out more than others though: Grilled Cheese Day. Something about the smell of the processed cheese melting into the white bread triggered my gag reflex. When I was 6 or 7 years old I made up a tall tale and explained to one of my teachers that I was VERY allergic to cheese, so on grilled cheese day I needed to eat somewhere other than the lunchroom because I simply could not be around it. For whatever reason they complied with my mini-diva request and I always ate by myself in the principal’s office every grilled cheese day. I would take a book and camp out on the bench where the “bad kids" had to wait before going into the principal’s office for a talking to. I loved it! I imagined that some kids probably thought I was a badass because I must have gotten in trouble and had to wait for the principal (who was totally creepy by the way - he used to go around the lunchroom stealing kids cookies and get away with it because he would do a cookie monster impression and everyone would just laugh it off… so weird!). I also liked the privacy. As an only child I had gotten used to a lot of alone time and grew to like it that way. Reading and eating my little weirdo-kid lunch of crunchy peanut butter on baguette with a side of cereal and a bag of carrot sticks made me feel special - in a good way.
Anyway, it wasn’t until college that I grew to love grilled cheese. I grew to love a lot of food that isn’t too healthy while attending Smith. It was either you eat the grilled cheese and french fries (in those years, Freedom Fries) or it is just salad bar for you again! Or sometimes it was worse if they were doing one of those pot-luck style kitchen clean-outs at the end of a semester where they would serve the dreaded and gelatinous West African Vegetable Stew ughughugh… I still shudder at the thought.
Anyway - let’s get back to the point - Jonny and I tried out the new grilled cheese wonderland right here in Astoria for the first time this past weekend. We intend to go back again. And again. The owners Ben and Jen are friendly, helpful and adorable. They buy all of their cheeses locally whether it is from Murray’s cheese in the city or an Italian guy who makes mozzarella down the block. They also have excellent non-alcoholic beverages. The coffee is from Coffee Labs (a play on Labradors, not laboratories) and they have tasty sodas (I had the hibiscus pictured above) from P&H Sodas which is run out of my old hood - Greenpoint. Jonny said that his coffee was the best he has had since the first time that he tasted Zabaar’s. I think he has found a new favorite.
Each sandwich comes with a little side pairing of a soup or salad and the flavors run from classic (cheddar and mozzarella with tomato soup) to innovative (manchego and ricotta with minted eggplant and capers). Jonny and I each tried one ourselves. I ordered the Gruyere with pickled and caramelized onions on rye which comes with a vinegary Napa cabbage and caraway slaw - Deeelish! Jonny got the Gouda with black bean hummus, guava jam, pickled jalapeno on brioche which comes with a little salad of mesclun greens in a lemony jalapeno vinaigrette. I usually prefer what I order but I have to admit that Jonny won this round. That was one superb grilled cheese. I guess I have come a long way from my grilled cheese allergy.
The design of the place is wonderful too. They installed the pressed tin in the ceiling and the old nautical-looking pulleys where the lights hang from over the bar were bought on Ebay. It feels cozy and bright all at the same time. I’m very pleased to have them in the area. Welcome, welcome welcome!
(phew! long post! guess all that tasty cheese inspired me!)