A Year In Food

From New York to Costa Rica to Europe to California: 365 Days of Dining Out

Friday, March 11, 2005

Mar. 11.



Dinner
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Tournesol - 50-12 Vernon Blvd., Long Island City, Queens
Steak frites au poivre, absinthe, a glass of Jurancon Sec Chateau Jolys
$36

In suggesting it, Pat referred to Tournesol as his favorite neighborhood bistro. When I walked in and the hostess-owner welcomed me in a heavy French accent, I was quickly charmed into thinking he might be right. Like any good bistro, the atmosphere was very unpretentious and laidback. Many of the diners were regulars and some conversed with the waitstaff in French. Even the ugly art hanging up managed to seem somewhat personable.

As for ordering, though many of the fish entrees sounded good, I had another craving for steak frites. I also thought it would be interesting to compare Tournesol's version to the great version I had at Schiller's (see Jan. 31). I know that there is only so much that you can do to distinguish the dish, but Schiller's and Tournesol's steak frites were very, very similar. Both had delicious skinny stalks of fries and fairly good but not great cuts of beef. The only real difference was in the au poivre sauces. At Tournesol, the sauce really emphasized the pepper, causing some bites to overload on kick. Once I realized the emphasis and used the sauce sparingly though, it gave the dish a better but still sharp flavor.

The dessert list looked promising, but unfortunately, because of time constraints, we had to jet off to catch a great production of Dr. Faustus. Even with my limited experience at Tournesol however, I would agree that this is a nice neighborhood fixture in a neighborhood with limited options. It isn't a destination place as I could easily think of places within walking distance from my house (Le Quinze, Casimir) that have similar intentions and execute them as well or better. Also, the seating is very cramped, with the tables so close that the girl next to us felt all but invited to interject into our conversation repeatedly. But if you're hungry in Long Island City and you're a friendly, low-key Francophile, by all means, you know where to head. 7/10

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