by Tom Dowling 3/14/2015
For reasons that now escape me, on a recent cold, rainy and dreary Saturday night, my wife and I thought we would go to Astoria for Indian food—a big mistake. After the trek from Brooklyn Heights, where we live, and driving around for about 45 minutes looking for parking in Astoria, we gave up and headed for home, resigned to rustling up omelets or some such make-do fare at home. Fortunately for us, we realized that our favorite little place, The Beehive Oven Biscuit Café, was more or less right on our way home. We got off the BQE, parked practically in front of the Café and treated ourselves to some of the delicious down home good eats that we have come to associate with this gem of a place. I had, in fact, been there earlier that very week and my wife mistakenly thought I would not be up for a repeat visit so soon (wrong!). As always, we let the kitchen and the fine folks there do their magic. The pleasant repast we had was more than adequate compensation for the otherwise fruitless foray into that other borough. Everything we had was delicious. How can something as basic as Devilled Eggs be that good? How can bacon be that crispy, yet not burnt? How can a biscuit sandwich be that good? How and from where do they get green tomatoes in the dead of winter so as to make the best Fried Green Tomatoes (outside my Mom’s, perhaps) that I have ever had? Practice, practice, practice—and a bit of kitchen magic, I think. Time and again, these fine people take the most basic ingredients and turn them into consistently satisfying, tasty and wholesome meals of the ‘comfort food’ stripe and beyond. We have our favorites, which are the biscuit sandwiches, especially the Nettie. But, this narrow predilection aside, we have also enjoyed thoroughly the rich and creamy Chicken Pot Pie, the no-nonsense and hearty Shrimp and Grits and the Chicken Fried Steak. (I will admit that I was at first skeptical about the Chicken Fried Steak, but, it turns out, that was only because I had never had one made right.) The REAL mashed potatoes and superior Shitaki mushroom gravy make this the ultimate comfort food dish.
At least one (and usually two) of the three principals--Treva, John, and Jason—has been there to make us feel welcome every time we have been there. I think their personal commitment and ‘hands-on’ approach is what makes the Café so special. You feel at home the minute you walk in the door. The pleasant and warm décor is of a piece with the quality of the food—cleverly repurposed everyday items that add to the overall charm of the Café. In addition, the wine is consistently good and the pour is generous. There is a fine array of artisanal beers. The desserts are to die for. Even the coffee is remarkable. There is also a nice array of the Café’s own jams, jellies and the like for sale to take home. Rumor has it that their wonderful Buttermilk Dressing may soon be available for sale as well. I can hardly wait….