At Astor Bake Shop & Restaurant, seasonal delights are showcased daily — Photo courtesy of Astor Bake Shop & Restaurant
Chef George McKirdy’s star-studded resume ranges from his apprenticeship at Regines to his time at Robert De Niro's TriBeCa Grill and Nobu Restaurant and to his executive pastry chef role at TriBakery, Zeppole Restaurant and Blue Fin Restaurant. He's even cooked for Julia Child and Nelson Mandela.
McKirdy's passion for food is matched by his social consciousness: he's contributed his time and talent to many worthy causes, such as the Tibet Funds Dinner honoring the Dalai Lama, God's Love We Deliver, Share our Strength and Autism Speaks Out.
Now he's also known for starting Astor Bake Shop & Restaurant in New York. Over the years, its fan base has grown to hosts of artists, writers and musicians who can often be seen at all hours huddling over tables in creative collaborations. Literary and musical open mics take place on Wednesdays.
Astor Bake Shop & Restaurant feels like you're visiting friends — Photo courtesy of Astor Bake Shop & Restaurant
With international visitors arriving to join walking tours in the "nabe" (of graffiti, with adhocarts.org, for instance), conversations leap from table to table. Astor’s dining room feels like you're at a friend’s house, so fast friends are made here.
McKirdy stands tall among his peers for making every effort to locally source ingredients. As the first RSA, or Restaurant Supported Agriculture partner, with the first residential urban farm in New York City (Hellgate Farm, named for the Hellgate Bridge that spans the East River and casts a shadow over Astoria Park), Astor creates salsas that are sold at the restaurant and the farm.
From the start, McKirdy partnered with local food producers like Hellgate Farm — Photo courtesy of Astor Bake Shop & Restaurant
From the start, Astor worked closely with the micro-roaster Stone Street Coffee, located in Gowanus, Brooklyn, NY. Together they developed a house blend for Astor.
Don’t miss the frozen hot chocolate, the signature "gingerade," house-brewed iced teas and a lightly salted lemonade.
While Astor has won burger competitions, no one seems to rate their superb egg sandwiches. Maybe it's the house-baked Portuguese rolls, the hog case sausage or applewood-smoked bacon and cheese, but it's definitely not ordinary.
Breakfast is a feast here: croissants, stuffed French toast with fragrant Tahitian vanilla bean and orange zest and homemade granola with Greek yogurt.
Astor's egg sandwiches are rich and memorable — Photo courtesy of Astor Bake Shop & Restaurant
A trail of comfort foods lines the menu, served honestly with inventive twists, such as pickled onions, homemade horseradish or the well-kept secret that is Astor Sauce.
Soups alternate, except for the onion soup, which carries the richness of that well-known dish – a piece of bread and melted cheese – but none of the super saltiness that usually accompanies this dish.
Astor's burgers are the stuff of legend and awards — Photo courtesy of Astor Bake Shop & Restaurant
The Astor Burger is among the most popular dishes; add the applewood-smoked bacon and a side of creamy slaw for a flavor punch.
The Lentil Burger is next for its surprising flavors, with a dollop of homemade horseradish. Feeling famished? Go for the slow-baked chicken.
One dessert here that you'll never need help finishing is the red velvet cake. Don't forget: this is the place to have a cake designed by Astor specifically for you. The wilder, the better.
New York Epicurean events include guest chef appearances and that annual pie-eating contest to celebrate what we all hope to see many more of: Astor Anniversaries.