Astoria eatery centers on just 3 basic wares

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Ben Sandler and Jennifer Lim’s Astoria restaurant, Queens Kickshaw, was inspired by their wedding.

When the couple tied the knot in 2009, they celebrated with a parade and a New Orleans-style band. Sandler, a Queens native who has worked in the food industry for 20 years, said they wanted to do something similarly pleasing as they began their own business.

In March, they opened at 40-17 Broadway a small cafe decorated with old but functional materials and specializing in three staples.

“The gist of it is specialty coffee, grilled cheese sandwiches and craft beers,” Sandler said.

The three items make up the heart of the menu. Sandler, who said Astoria is low on great coffee options, buys his beans from Coffee Labs Roasters, a microroaster in Tarrytown, N.Y. Sandler said he and Lim wanted to use a smaller provider and Coffee Labs beans are of incredible quality. The company also will sometimes deliver beans personally to Queens Kickshaw.

“It’s hard to make connections when you’re just dealing with corporatio­ns,” Sandler said.

The cheese sandwiches and beer are also a passion for Sandler. He said beer, with its bubbles, scrubs the palette and goes better with cheese than wine.

“I’m crazy about cheese and beer,” Sandler said. “I feel like beer is the perfect pairing with cheese.”

The sandwiches are far from typical, however. In addition to cheddar and mozzarella, Queens Kickshaw also uses a unique variety of cheeses such as Gruyere, Gouda, Arahovas Feta and Great Hill Blue cheese, which are paired with a variety of jams, spreads and vegetables.

“There are very unique combinations that we feel are awesomely balanced,” Sandler said.

Queens Kickshaw also offers almost 40 different craft beers from as near as New York to as far away as England, Scotland, Germany and Japan.

“We’re looking for very one-off and expensive beers,” Sandler said, “very hard to find in America.”

In explaining the restaurant’s name, Sandler said “kickshaw” is a small bite to eat or a little delicacy while “Queens” comes from the borough, which he said has inspired their menu, is the home of many of their suppliers, and, at this point, has embraced the eatery.

“So far it’s been amazing,” Sandler said. “We’ve had incredible community response.”

Prices range from $8 to $11 for sandwiches, $5 to $9 for sides, $2.25 to $4.75 for coffee and $6 to $26 for beer. Queens Kickshaw’s hours are 7:30 a.m. to 1 a.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 1 a.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at rhenely@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4564.

Updated 11:59 am, October 12, 2011
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