Many people know Sweet Afton as a happening night time artist bar. What they don't know is that it is one of the best brunch spots in Astoria.
Being an absolutely gorgeous day, one of the few we've had this summer, the Brunch Bunch decided to eat out back in a cozy little garden section of the restaurant. We showed up at around 11 and the full complement of us was easily able to find seating, even in the small back garden. Obviously the Red Queen and El Generalissimo were there, as were the Kung Fu Master and his Wife, Dr. Colonel Sanders, The Neighbors (who want new nicknames - we'll see how it goes), The Lady and myself. The Boys couldn't make it as they were dealing with absurd apartment issues (apparently their broker tried to get them into an illegal apartment - don't worry, as of today they are happily installed in a new, cozy domicile). We did have another addition, as our new roommate joined us for brunch. As a newbie, she has yet to receive a nickname, but it could just be me being lazy.
|Red Queen, Mrs. Neighbor, Dr. Col Sanders, The Lady, Mr. Neighbor and New Roomie|
As we were seated, Rory, our fantastic waiter with a delightful Irish brogue felt like joining us at the free seat to discuss our drink options. Let me tell you, brunch drinks at Sweet Afton are something special. El Generalissimo ordered his regular, a "blueberry muddle." It is a gin based drink with muddled blueberries and mint. Surprisingly, it is not cloyingly sweet as one might suspect. It is a small, refreshing beverage that EG just can't seem to get enough of. His term for it was "crack-esque."
A bunch of us started with the "Witte Screwdriver." It is a take off on the normally too-sweet vodka screwdriver. It has citrus vodka, OJ, ginger syrup, but a good deal of Witte wheat beer to help cut the sweetness. It is almost bubbly like a mimosa.
|Witte Screwdriver, Oatmeal Martini, Blueberry Muddle|
Unlike the drinks, there isn't a lot of choice when it comes to the food at Sweet Afton. There are 5 choices of dishes, but they are all made well, and the kitchen staff is flexible enough to handle variations on a theme. I went ahead and shocked the crowd by ordering a breakfast burger. Normally, I don't eat meat, but since Sweet Afton has locally sourced, grass fed beef, I couldn't resist. Boy, did I choose right. Topped with a perfectly fried egg, my first thought was "how do I get this in my mouth." I soon gave up on etiquette and chowed down. The bright yellow center of the egg bled out onto the plate mixing with the juices from the burger. Although this dish requires some oral dexterity and a lot of mouth wiping, it is well worth it.
Another big hit was the grilled cheese with spicy pickles and mustard that Mr. Neighbor got. He said all the elements balanced out well. A bunch of our crew got the organic scrambled eggs and you only need to take a look at how they were presented (in a cast iron skillet) to know that the chef meant business. I also had a side of the beer battered pickles, which were a little disappointing as they were a little too doughy for my tastes. That being said, the "smokey sauce" they were served with was delectable. The only other complaint about the whole meal came from The Lady who ordered the blueberry pancakes, which while good, were a little dry.
Perfectly fed, liquored and caffeinated (the coffee is plentiful and delicious), the conversation meandered around. One of my favorite discoveries was that you need a visa to visit Russia even for an hour. Fear not, travelers. As long as you book a hotel in advance, they will take care of it for you. The Red Queen likened it to needing an invitation to visit Russia (you have to be proven worthy to visit the country). Another revelation was prompted by the Lady of the Book. Always one with a way for words, she perfectly encapsulated what Astoria means to us. It is an artsy neighborhood like Williamsburg, but people will still actually wear clothes from the Gap. Finally, I would be remiss to not mention that as most conversations go when there is alcohol and good humor, the topic of sex was broached. Mostly it involved when our parents decided to give us "the sex talk." Man, I did not know how messed up peoples parents are. The ages we received the talk ran the gamut from toddler to teen to 21 to "never." According to the women at the table, thank god for Judy Blume and her book "Forever." Never having read it myself, apparently it stacks up there with all the stupid "So You're Becoming a Man" books I got as a kid, but with an actual narrative. We also managed to discuss our "first times," but I won't reveal any names. There were some interesting stories, though, involving a 17 year old Finn in a dorm in Prague, a somewhat famous person in literary circles, and a menage-a-trois. Oh, the lives of artists.
By the time brunch ended, we were full, buzzed and happy. All you want from a brunch experience. So go to Sweet Afton, just don't tell your friends.
|El Generalissimo and the Kung-fu Master fighting over the last blueberry muddle.|
Until next time, Happy Brunching!