Food News

June 4, 2008 at 11:57 pm 18 comments

We’ve had a few flip-overs these past few months, so I thought I’d offer up some unfiltered opinions about them.

First, soon-to-come Cheeburger Cheeburger. The presence of this restaurant at the base of the Windsor makes me positively ecstatic that I don’t own there. I’m not just mouthing sour grapes; truly, can you not readily conjure in your minds the Windsor condo crowd cringing at the thought of the smell and the summer-sweaty large crowds a place like this inevitably attracts? Midway movie patrons, fresh from their summer blockbusters and 2-gallon-sized popcorns, downed with a Coke, now have a place to go one more round with food that is generally acknowledged as less-than-life-enhancing. Yum. So it’s not the just the name that I hate, but the very idea of a restaurant devoted to heart-stopping hamburgers. Forest Hills already has enough suicidal middle-brow joints to satisfy even the most die hard food-masochist. Johnny Rocket, Fridays, Santa Fe, Pizzeria Uno, etc….we’re good, thanks, don’t need another. Some may celebrate this one, but I have to wonder why. Oh, and do check the Web site to see the locations of other CCs—you know, if I wanted to live in the suburbs or in an airport terminal…or Kuwait…or in Atlas Park…

Ripe Juice Bar. Most of the reviews I’ve read online have been laudatory so I felt pretty confident in grabbing a wrap plus a smoothie there a few weeks back. Whew! Both were above par. But Ripe is not a place I would frequent because it’s crowded, the tables are very small (they seat 2, 3 max with some fenagaling), and the atmosphere makes me think it’s an extension of the New York Sports Club that is a tofu-cube’s throw away. But the selection is healthful and tasty—and that’s something to celebrate, perhaps with a ginger, beet, celery, carrot smoothie.

Bonfire. I’ve now eaten there 4 or 5 times, and the total package of decently prepared food and nice atmosphere (excepting a brawl I heard about last month) keeps me coming back, and with my kids. The place is really kid-friendly, but not UJs-friendly, where the kids ran roughshod, making it barely tolerable on weekend mornings unless you, too, were there with a kid, desperate for someone else to cook for and serve them, and you your coffee. This is much better, because Bonfire is a hangout that appeals to a wide demographic swath of Forest Hills, so even those of us with kids in tow can glimpse some civility and normalcy. True, it’s a bit pricey, but if you go light on the alcohol, you can emerge from the place with a few bucks left in your wallet.

Bon appetite! The restaurants just keep coming around here, with more on the block within the next few months.

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Entry filed under: Forest Hills.

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18 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Paul  |  June 5, 2008 at 8:38 am

    Hi, Cheeburger opened yesterday. They’re not “soon to come”

    While you bemoan those “middle-brow joints” they help create a downtown presence and atmosphere around Austin Street, the reason we all moved to FHills.

    Reply
  • 2. karbeth  |  June 5, 2008 at 8:44 am

    Thanks for the correction, Paul.

    As for bemoaning, I just think we’ve got enough of them. Also, to me, this doesn’t create a downtown presence–reminds me more of a mall. I am hoping for more places that don’t cater to lower-common-denominator tastes and culture. That doesn’t mean expensive or exclusive; just something that thinks differently than what we are already inundated with.

    But, to each his/her own.

    Reply
  • 3. joe  |  June 5, 2008 at 12:05 pm

    A LITTLE SNOBY, DON’T YOU THINK ?

    Reply
  • 4. karbeth  |  June 5, 2008 at 12:22 pm

    Snobby about places that serve up crap, not people. In a country with a spiraling-upward obesity rate, how can this possibly be good? And I think a lot of people defend it in the name of being “regular” folks, but that’s missing the point. This isn’t about chain stores or liking filet mignon instead of chopped beef. It’s about offering people more of what they already have that isn’t so great for them to begin with.

    Reply
  • 5. joe  |  June 5, 2008 at 12:27 pm

    nobody is making them eat there. it is about free joice. i know that it is not good for you to pig out on this food everyday but once a month will not kill you. i am more afraid of the “food police” enforcing what they want on people.

    Reply
  • 6. karbeth  |  June 5, 2008 at 12:35 pm

    But why is free choice so often a group of choices that aren’t all that good for people

    You’re right, of course: no one can force anything on anyone. But hear me out on this logic: when a restaurant like this opens, the attitude is, “hey, it’s just food, it’s all in good fun once in a while.” But if someone disagrees, it’s the food police. Whose to say that the food police isn’t actually these places that open up left and right, tempting people with unhealthy food choices? What if the police is just having a lot of fun at the expense of everyone else’s health?

    Anyway, it’s not as if you can’t find a good burger elsewhere.

    Reply
  • 7. joe  |  June 5, 2008 at 12:44 pm

    they do have ” healthier” choices on the menu. and not all their burgers are super duper 5 lb of heart clogging fat . they have human sized burgers. and i have not tried there bugers so who is to say how good or bad they taste. If i was younger and out on a date at the movies down the block i may stop in there with my date. i like to think that i have a more muture taste in food but damn those onion rings look good 🙂

    Reply
  • 8. karbeth  |  June 5, 2008 at 1:59 pm

    Joe, I’m so with you on those onion rings, but having eaten there (or at least at a branch at Palisades), I’m going to look elsewhere to get my fix of those and the “healthier” choices.

    Also, it ain’t cheap. The least expensive burger is in the mid-$6 range and it does not come with anything other than the bun and maybe some lettuce. Fries are extra. The least-expensive combo on the menu (with fries) was around $10.50. I mean, isn’t part of the “fun” of eating a burger the side of fries you don’t have to specifically request, ergo, less guilt when they show up?

    If I was younger, and still believed I was immortal, I’d be in there for sure. But I’m not, and I have young kids. We eat our fair of sugar and white flour, but every day feels like a battle against the forces of low-quality commercialism that pervades every aspect of life.

    Reply
  • 9. joe  |  June 5, 2008 at 3:29 pm

    I hear what you are saying but you make my point. You are the one taking the responsablity for what you children eat. I know that it is hard but even McDonalds tries to come out with heathier menu items. Why? Because that is what the market wants. An informed consumer is what is needed to change things not nanny state regulations. Yes it is harder getting things changed that way but ultimately it is the best. Hey they even have a veggi-burger on the menu.

    I also agree some what about the low-quality of alot of the food out there, but if nobody buys it they will stop selling it. I know easier said than done.

    If you made a buger at home I wonder if it would be any less healther than the ones they serve?

    Reply
  • 10. joe  |  June 5, 2008 at 3:37 pm

    Oh by the way I went to Ripe Juice Bar and I had to have it to go because there were no seats. And when I got home it it was still warm and I must say it was very good. It was the BBQ grilled turkey breast. I was very happy with it.

    Reply
  • 11. karbeth  |  June 5, 2008 at 3:49 pm

    In the end, though, is Cheeseburger, Cheeseburger a positive addition to Forest Hills, a negative one, or a neutral one? That is the question. And do only Joe and I have an opinion on this?:)

    Reply
  • 12. Visionary  |  June 5, 2008 at 5:44 pm

    What’s with all the whining? Anyone who takes a risk to open a business these days should be commended.
    Go and buy a burger (or salad) and malt from the three St.John’s University grads who had to pool together nearly $700,000 to get Chee Burger up and running! Show some support. Congratulations and welcome to Forest Hills.

    Reply
  • 13. alyce  |  June 5, 2008 at 8:50 pm

    I was actually looking forward to “Cheeseburger” opening, being a fan of nice juicy burgers and missing UJ’s, but my friend went there today and told me that they will NOT serve their burgers rare or medium rare – it even says it on the menu. I’m sure those of you out there that are concerned about more cholesterol in the neighborhood would consider this gripe petty, but what good is a burger place that doesn’t cater to burger lovers.

    I was anticipating “Ripe’s” opening more than “Cheeseburger” because although I enjoy an occasional rare burger, I’m much more into healthy fare generally. The food is pretty good, but pricey, in my opinion, for a place that serves on plastic plates and has NO RESTROOM.

    Reply
  • 14. ben  |  June 5, 2008 at 9:33 pm

    Who’s whining? There’s neighborhood restaurants you want to eat at, and ones you don’t. When a new place opens, it’s disappointing when the place doesn’t look very good.

    It’s nothing against the place- it’s just another restaurant in the neighborhood I don’t feel like patronizing. If I want something something satisfyingly unhealthy, I can get halal for $5.

    I’m not contending that restaurants aren’t one of my favorite things about FH: Corfu, Thai Pot, and Nick’s are a big part of what keeps me here. I love the fish and chips at the Irish Cottage (even though it’s overpriced), and I love the sesame bagels at FH Bagels. Cabana has great arroz con pollo, and “Cubanita” has great sandwiches. But I could care less about the chain places. Then again, I had about the worst burger of my life at Johnny Rocket’s, so I guess Ch. Ch. has a low bar to get over.

    As for Bonfire, I’ve only eaten there once. Frankly, I was hoping my food would be better. On the other hand, the Guinness and Boddington’s are priced so reasonably that I’ve felt obligated to keep going back (and I’ve stopped in for a beer 3 times since). We also had pretty friendly service, so I’ll hope I just ordered poorly.

    Reply
  • 15. lurch70  |  June 7, 2008 at 8:00 am

    I am not following your train of thought regarding Cheeburger. Bonfire Grill serves up similar far, just wrapped up in a quasi smaler scale TGIF atmosphere. I detest that place more as its trying to be something its not, a hip addition to FH.

    And how do you know who owns condos in the Windsor. Just because they have money, doesn’t mean they’re health nuts.

    Reply
  • 16. karbeth  |  June 7, 2008 at 10:17 am

    Lurch70, people have wildly different views on this and what it means to Forest Hills. To my eye, Bonfire is something new, though somewhat imperfect (highly imperfect to some people). Cheeseburger may not be trying to be anything other than it is–which is commendable in its own way–but still, many of us hope for new ideas rather than retreads.

    Regardless, to quote myself in comment #2, “But, to each his/her own.”

    As for the Windsor condo remark, that was tongue in cheek, a way of contrasting the high-end RE with the middle-brow Ch.Ch.

    Hope this clarifies.

    Reply
  • 17. janny226  |  June 7, 2008 at 9:59 pm

    HI, I’ve been lurking on your blog for a while. Just wanted to say as the mom of a picky eater 5-year-old, I’m delighted Cheeburger Cheeburger is here. For my money it’s a step in the real-food direction from Burger King.

    I know restaurants don’t open just to inch my sensory-issues-laden child toward eating actual FOOD not overprocessed pseudo-substances, but I’ll take it! And we haven’t even eaten there yet, but may tomorrow (depending on the crowd from the street fair).

    And now that I know it’s some St John’s students I’ll definitely make it a point to go. (Also, I have to agree with ben on the Irish Cottage fish n chips.)

    Reply
  • 18. karbeth  |  June 8, 2008 at 6:34 am

    Hey Janny226–if you do get to CH CH, let us know what you think.

    Does your son like pizza? It’s so tough when they’re picky (as mine was too–white flour diet), but over time it has definitely improved. I hope that’s the same for you, whatever it takes.:)

    Reply

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