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The pub masters behind neighborhood bars Lord Hobo in Cambridge, Mass., and the original Alewife in Baltimore have opened their latest venture, Alewife Queens, located in the residential recesses of Long Island City. The bar is one of their most ambitious yet, with nearly 30 beers on tap and dozens more by the bottle in labels that will delight even the most experienced beer aficionados. (How often do you see the Belgian Drie Fonteinen or Swedish Dugges around these parts?)
The food menu is just as ambitious, if almost too ambitious. LIC isn't quite used to seeing $20+ entrees in its neighborhood joints, even if it is Macadamia Crusted Fluke ($24) or "Black Feather Chicken" ($25). Most patrons are sticking to the moderately priced appetizers and snacks, such as the Jalapeno Mac & Cheese ($13). This spicy, creamy concoction comes topped with ingenious little fried balls of barbecued pulled pork croutons.
A big slab of apple-braised Pork Belly ($14) sits atop mustard-glazed vegetables in a warm dashi broth. The broth killed any of the apple flavor the dish supposedly had, but the meaty pork is a welcome complement to bright hoppy beers, such as the Two Brothers Heavy Handed IPA on draft.
Twice Cooked Frites ($5) with Parmesan and parsley were good if not memorable, but the accompanying pickled garlic aioli made for a lovely dipper (and would make for a great burger or sandwich spread as well). For dessert, the Adult Float ($9, pictured left), made with root liquor, sarsaparilla syrup, club soda and bourbon vanilla ice cream, is a playful and punchy ending. Beer lovers may want to stick with the Stout Float ($6), which incorporates the creamy Left Hand Milk Stout.
Alewife has taken great care to make the locals feel welcome, going so far as to offer a "Half Pint" menu for the kiddies, including a "Bag of Cheerios" for the cleverly priced $0. A late-night menu (11 p.m. to close) offers a variety of pizzas, snacks and desserts—all of it to stay or to go.
5-14 51st Ave., Long Island City NY 11101 (map) 718-937-7494 alewifequeens.com