Dining Out: With OTB on its way, Austin’s shows off fresh look

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Austin’s Steak & Ale House

82-72 Austin Street, Kew Gardens


Off-Track Betting is coming to Austin’s Steak & Ale House. Austin’s, by the Kew Gardens Long Island Rail Road station is one of the handful of places accredited as a locale for placing bets. It’s a new concept being introduced in the next five or six weeks throughout the five boroughs.

Austin’s, established in 1991, is also celebrating its 10th anniversary. A 100-foot narrow dining room running from Austin Street back to the patio, as far as you can go, has just been added retaining the American pub ambiance. The new room is pretty elegant with tin ceilings, wood paneling and French doors fore and aft. White cloths are used here. The OTB will be in the lounge, and as long as the weather cooperates there’ll be dining outdoors on the patio listening to the trains go by. On the Lefferts Boulevards side, a waterfall on the patio’s tiers offers another sound bite.

It’s too soon to be placing bets but there are discrete televisions in the dining room off the bar for viewing the races in progress. And there are some diners intent on taking it all in. We, I must confess, concentrated on the menu.

Austin’s 20 draft beers and 60 in bottles from Belgium, Holland, Germany including an interesting light beer made from wheat. It’s served in pilsner glass. My dining companion recalled that in Germany, where the beer is made, they place a few grains of uncooked rice in the glass, to increase the foam.

Be that as it may, the shrimp cocktail at Austin’s is served with panache. A leaf of Romaine stands bolt upright in a low, footed glass bedded in a spicy cocktail sauce based on crushed tomatoes. The shrimp curl over the edge. My dining companion had clams oreganata prepared with whole Little Neck clams (the touch that makes the difference) lightly topped with garlic crumbs then baked.

We split a salad, a Caesar salad, because at Austin’s its made with anchovies and freshly grated cheese.

The “pastabilit­ies” included ziti Siberia — a creamy dill vodka sauce — hence the name; à la Ruses, Vodka and dill; wild mushrooms, also Russian; and prosciutto (intriguing)and my companion was hooked. Steak tidbits topped with mozzarella, fish and chips? What shall it be? The special scallops oreganata—baked with garlic bread crumbs—reminded me of a recent trip to Maine, and so won me over (especially since golden brown onion rings, beer battered, was offered as an accompaniment possibility.) Ripple cut zucchini and carrots added green market freshness to the plate that was doused with snipped parsley.

Pecan pie served warm with swirls of whipped cream criss-crossed with chocolate made a sweet conclusion. “Black bottom brownie?” the blonde waitress inquired. That sounded new! Actually it was Austin’s version of black bottom pie, a warm fudgy brownie in a chocolate crumb crust served with ice cream. (Feel sorry for me?)

Chris is the new chef. He took over seven months ago after doing a 15-year stint at Regents Row. Combinations are his specialty. There were several items on the menu that tingled my taste buds: You’ve heard of Buffalo chicken wings. At Austin’s they also serve Buffalo shrimp—lightly breaded (how about beer batter deep fried?), tossed in hot spicy sauce then served with bleu cheese. You can have a Caesar salad with grilled shrimp instead of chicken. Chili-fried chicken is plump breasts in spicy cornmeal coating, then fried. A station house burger is Austin’s unique topping of bacon, melted Swiss and BBQ sauce, while the East Coast burger is topped with tomato, raw onion and Russian dressing. For Austin’s chicken sandwich, grilled chicken breast teriyaki is topped with melted Swiss and bacon on a toasted club roll. Their French dip supreme is roast beef piled high on garlic bread with melted mozzarella served au jus.

On Sunday, the horses also run. So its OTB and brunch. Here the Huevos rancheros with three fried eggs served warm topped with melted cheddar and homemade salsa tempted me. The challah French toast uses thick slices of challah and is grilled in cinnamon butter.

So all you OTBers you can eat and watch them run at Austin’s. Or just watch them run.

The Bottom Line

OTB coming to this 10-year-old ale house. American pub ambiance and menu with new combinations. New 100-foot dining room. Outdoor patio. Nice service.

Chef’s Choice

Fish & Chips (prepared with beer batter)...$6.95

Clams Oreganata (whole clams lightly breaded with Parmesan cheese and touch of basil)...$5.95

Austin’s Burger (onions, mushrooms, bacon and cheese)...$6.95) Buffalo Chicken Wings (fried and dipped in spicy sauce served with celery and bleu cheese)...$9.95

Grilled Portobello Mushrooms (with fresh mozzarella and roasted pepper)...$8.95

Porterhouse Steak (best of two worlds--filet and strip cut/with portobello)...$23.95/$24.95

Prime Rib (Fri & Sat, slow roasted to your liking--16 oz Ale cut/30 oz master cut)...$19.95/$24.95

Pecan Roasted Salmon (filet topped with pecan and brown sugar)...$16.95

Austin’s Black Bottom Pie (a warm fudge brownie à la mode smothered in hot fudge) ...$5.95

Bourbon Pecan Pie (warm and served with whipped cream)...$4

Cuisine: American

Setting: American pub. Outdoor patio

Service: Good Hours: L & D 7 days. Sun brunch Reservations: Accepted Parking: LIRR lot

Location: By LIRR station

Dress: Casual but neat

Credit cards: No Discover

Takeout: And delivery

Off-premise catering: Yes

Smoking: Smoking room, Patio

Dining: April to Oct.

Handicap access: Yes

Updated 7:22 pm, October 10, 2011
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