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The Ground Round: Toss your bland suburban cuisine ideas aside.
196-50 Northern Blvd, Flushing

The Ground Round

196-50 Northern Blvd.

Auburndale

718-224-3998

www.groundround.com

I liked it a lot. Ground Round is just the sort of new café/pub we can use hereabouts.

Take note: It’s for the young and young at heart, although there is porch-like seating where the music doesn’t reverberate off the walls.

A big sign in the main dining room proclaims “Ground Round of Flushing.” It’s the newest addition to American Hospitality Concepts, Inc. For years, I passed Ground Round on Northern in Manhasset and never ventured in.

The look is “with it,” with high bar stools around high tables grouped up front near the bar and booths around the outside. Think of the center seating as a gazebo. A multitude of hanging lamps are an art deco cross between Tiffany and Frank Lloyd Wright. Blonde wood is everywhere. The servers, tall and young, wear chic, dusty blue shirts with dark slacks.

I’m sure the menu weighs a few pounds. It’s colorful and profusely illustrated. In addition, there’s a drink and dessert menu on the table for perusal. It’s loaded with fascinating teas. (I had peach iced tea with purree of peach adding a twist.) Lemonade comes every delicious which way imaginable.

It was lunchtime, so I scanned all the chicken, shrimp and taco salads and lunch combos with half-club combos and and soup salads, wraps (chicken Ceasar and and barbeque chicken, for instance) and sandwiches. The chicken Cordon Bleu — hand-breaded chicken breast covered with smoked ham and melted Swiss with a tangy bistro sauce — sounded tasty, as did the Buffalo chicken sandwich — hand-breaded breast coated with hot sauce and served with blue cheese dressing.

The Thai Dilla was for me — open-faced they say. The toppings are chicken, fresh bean sprouts, snow pea pods and red peppers which is folded over and then cut in small triangles, arranged on a plate with three dips — tomato salsa, creamy sour cream and plum sauce. This was ultra juicy, heavenly eating. Where, oh where, did they find sprouts like these? Luckily, I was wearing sweats and thankfully the waiter handed me another napkin. But was it good! A frozen cappuccino made for a drink/dessert. It was flavorful and creamy, a bit on the caramel side.

A takeout baked potato topped with chicken tenders and big croutons, lots of cheese and accompanied by tossed iceberg and a smattering of red cabbage with a black cup of Thousand Island dressing was terrific. It was a huge Idaho, mealy and marvelous, with loads of cheese topping and chicken tenders with a bit of bite to them. Highly recommended.

At supper time there were lots of choices. Steaks and babyribs, seafood, sizzling fajitas, chicken, pasta (chicken with broccoli Alfredo for instance) and of course burgers or rather “Ground Rounders.” All burgers are cooked medium-well.

A green Leapin’ Lizard, “a good starter upper,” seemed fitting. As for appetizers, the samplers are intriguing: Pot of gold is mozzarella cheese sticks, onion rings and egg rolls with Mandarin sauce. The wing sampler is a combo of barbeque, spicy teriyaki and buffalo wings, 20 of them. And Margarita Shrimp’dilla, an open-faced quesidilla, is a dilly.

Ground Round seems to delight in taking something great and adding something more to make it something even greater. My mixed grill was a combination of BBQ ribs, baby back ribs, yakatori steak sticks and chicken satay with Thai peanut sauce served with scallion dipping sauce. All this is served with Ceasar or house salad, a baked potato and garlic bread sticks. Wow.

Apple crisp, brownie sundae, cinnamon dippers, liquid chocolate truffle and the sweet sampler looked delightful. You can get three of them sized for sharing: cinnamon dipper (good), apple crisp (super) and fudge brownie (heavenly) served with two, three or four spoons.

Ground Round has appeal across the board. I was seated next to a silver-haired group of 12. When they left, five young mothers with six high-chair babies sat there.

I happened on the Consumer Reports rating of fast food chains just before I came. They were not ranked well. As for me, I liked Ground Round Flushing a lot. It was terrific, I’d say. (The kitchen was slow, but it just opened recently.)

The Bottom Line

New pub/cafe. Hanging lamps galore. All the favorites on the menu with great new twists. Large selection of innovative teas, lemonades and mixed drinks. Plentiful young servers. Valet parking.

Chef’s Choice

Buffalo Wings (mild, medium or hot)...Ten for $6.49, add $2.49 for 20.

Chicken Club Salad (greens, bacon, egg, cheese & tomato. Chargrilled or fried chiken tenderloins)...$7.49

Triple Shrimp Platter (tempura shrimp, coconut shrimp & fried shrimp. Pina colada & Mandarin cocktail sauces. French fries & coleslaw)...$13.99

BBQ Ribs (slowly cooked BBQ ribs with cole slaw & french fries)...Full rack $13.99, Half rack $10.49

Thai Chicken Pasta (carrots, scallions, bean sprouts, snowpeas, zucchini, red peppers & bok choy with thai peanut sauce, linguine & grilled chcken sate)...$9.99

Buffalo Chicken Sandwich (hand-breaded chicken breast coated with hot sauce & served with blue cheese dressing)...$6.99

Apple Crisp (deicious, old fashioned treat)...$3.79

Sweet Sampler (three sized for sharing. Cinnamon dippers, apple crisp, brownies served with two, three or four spoons)...$4.99

Cuisine: American 2003 favorites

Setting: Hanging lamps, highback stools, booths, etc.

Service: Young, eager to please

Hours: Seven days L (11:30) & D

Parking: Valet. Own lot

Location: Off Francis Lewis

Dress: Casual

Children: Own menu

Credit cards: All major

Private parties: No

Takeout: Yes

Off-premise catering: Yes

Noise level: Main dining room, loud

Handicap access: Yes

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