I’m not in Queens very often, and when I am it’s typically food- or beverage-related. So when I can combine the two, well, heck, why not, right? One place that doesn’t let me down has a rather easy address to remember, and it’s easy to find its corner of Astoria.
Sunswick 35/35 is situated at the corner of 35th Avenue and 35th Street, just a few short blocks from the subway. If it looks dark inside, that’s because it is; I apologize in advance for less-than-stellar photographs as a result.
Rotating up to 25 taps, Sunswick is generally regarded as one of a small handful of beer bars in Queens that caters to the beer enthusiast. This evening was no exception, as 23 taps were loaded with a wide range of good selections both local and imported, and fairly-priced at $5 per pint for many. The menu helpfully lists tasting notes for those unfamiliar with the beers.
So our first round of beers while we perused the menu: pints of Pretty Things Jack d’Or and Heavy Seas Loose Cannon IPA, each $5. I can’t get a bomber of Jack d’Or in a store at that price per ounce, so I’d say yes, thank you. The beers were in good shape, Jack a bit dry and very spicy, the Loose Cannon displaying its pleasant hop aroma and bitterness. Later, we drank pints of the Gnomegang, from Ommegang, and Goose Island’s Sofie, just to point out the wide range of beers and styles available on this most normal of evenings there.
The menu is pretty straightforward bar food. As Sunswick is only a couple of blocks from the Museum of the Moving Image, they’ve taken to naming the sections of the menu after film titles, some well-known, but most along the lines of “The Sandwich Man” (1937, sandwiches) or “The Teaser” (1925, appetizers). Exciting!
How do you go wrong with wings at a bar? We went “X Hot” for an order of 10; the plate is shown here in its entirety. Yup.
The wings were plump, and coated in what turned out to be a not-very-hot sauce at all, and not particularly liquid either. This would have been fine if they were juicy, but they were on the dry side, and overall, rather bland. Perhaps an off-night for a short-staffed kitchen, but it might be a while before I try these again.
Main attraction time — I mean “The Spitfire Grill”, “Topper” and “Choose Up Sides” for burgers, topping choices and, you betcha, sides. PS chose the 1/2 Pound Burger (“100% Real Fresh Chopped Meat”, in case there was doubt as to what that meant) with Wisconsin cheddar and peppers and onions (on the side), with Seasoned Waffle Fries.
The burger saved the wing debacle, I was told. Cooked to order, plenty juicy, with actual flavor! The peppers and onions seemed to be less sauteed than one would expect as a burger topping, but that was a minor quibble, and it was polished off with extreme prejudice.
The seasoned fries were lightly dusted with a slightly-spicy blend, so I suppose cayenne/cumin/Old Bay-esque seasoning. Perfectly all right as an accompaniment.
I decided to branch out, and ordered the Steel City Sandwich: brisket, mozzarella, Citrus Cole Slaw, and potato sticks on a hero. When I read the description I thought of Primanti’s version, only with good crunchy potato on the sandwich, not limp, sad fries.
The brisket turned out pretty well, actually: it wasn’t smoked, but it retained enough meaty flavor to keep me occupied. The slaw made sure if the brisket was dry, that it would still be edible, but it really wasn’t that exciting on its own. And of course potato sticks, what kid doesn’t like potato sticks? Taken as a whole, it worked out pretty well.
And, so there’s the wet slaw there getting all over my sandwich. The sandwich was also pretty sizable, so even though it didn’t come with a side order — as an aside, what’s up with that? — it was enough for dinner while picking at PS’s waffle fries and of course the two beers.
While Sunswick 35/35 isn’t really a food destination, they do try to accommodate their drinking patrons. And it’s fairly cheap; two sandwiches, the wings, and four pints came in a bit over $60 with a generous tip. The bartender had to do double duty waiting tables and serving drinks, but he managed to pay attention to us and the other several tables fairly well. The food was generally fine, not that we were expecting award-winning waffle fries or wings. If you get hungry, the food will satisfy as only bar food does, but the beer selection at Sunswick… yes, go for beer.