Just Like Home
Cronin and Phelan’s Bar and Restaurant
38-14 Broadway, Astoria
Cuisine: Pub Grub
Hours: Mon-Sat 8 am-4 am; Sun noon to 4 am
Credit Cards: All Major
With a slew of European-style cafes popping up around Astoria, it’s comforting to know some places hold back on pretension and kick up the quality instead. Cronin and Phelan’s fits the mold of the blue collar Astorian’s favorite joint – the spot in existence since God-knows-when, with the bartenders as worn as the furniture and food as comforting as your mother’s.
Its biggest flaw rests in its dungeon-like facade, which only seems uglier with every shiny, trendy new Euro-style joint that opens around it. But if you manage to get past the confusing triangulated entry, you’ll find a pristine pub seemingly transplanted from Ireland. Wood abounds, with brass in key spots, the stock collection of beer on tap and walls covered in flat-panel televisions, should you be there to watch a game. But for now, head on back to the outdoor patio, with the summer’s wane still keeping the temperature bearable.
Should you be looking for a delicate, gourmet gastronomic experience, well, don’t bother. Once you order an entree, you’ve committed yourself to an enormous rib-sticking meal packed with some sort of meat, an obscenely delicious side and a pint.
I heard good things about the shepherd’s pie, but I was wary. It’s the sort of peasant meal that’s as easy to screw up as it is to enjoy. Fortunately, Cronin and Phelan’s avoids any trap. Just meat, diced veggies and a thick slab of mashed potatoes crisped at the top. Humility embodied in a giant portion.
Of course, with the burgers or wings you can’t go wrong. The honey-barbecue wings are beyond divine, and make the pint more refreshing than intoxicating.
The menu includes something fairly exotic, even for Queens – bangers and mash. This concoction from the British Isles has been the bane of many a foodie. By nature, the meal is ugly, the sauce weird and the potatoes unwelcoming. I’ve been told you have to be drunk or a complete glutton to actually enjoy it.
And to be fair, the massively sized portion at Phelan’s greets you like some culinary Frankenstein, daring you to finish it all. But the obligatory cringe at the first bite? It wasn’t there. The flavors meshed to form a funky but welcoming party on the palate. I almost wished it was a bitter, rainy winter’s night to do the meal – and Cronin and Phelan’s – full justice.