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New Smokehouse in Astoria To Feature Communal Tables and Live Country Music

By Ewa Kern-Jedrychowska | November 17, 2012 12:48pm

QUEENS — Astoria, already famous for its beer gardens and authentic Greek food, may also be soon known for smoked meats.

A new smokehouse, The Strand, is opening this weekend at 25-27 Broadway, filling a culinary gap left after John Brown Smokehouse moved to Hunters Point earlier this year.

The Strand plans to offer all sorts of meats, some of which may be unfamiliar to city diners. “Duck pastrami will be amazing,” boasted the chef, Eric Miley.

The owner, Tommy Vasilis, 41, has promised “average prices" and said charcuterie would be a significant part of the menu.

Meats will be smoked at Bakeway, a bakery next door, which Vasilis also owns. Some charcuterie will come from the Astoria-based Muncan Food Corp.

“Our main cuisine is a Southern smokehouse kind,” Vasilis said, distinguishing it from typical barbeque.

But the restaurant plans to also host barbecues in the summertime in its front and back yards.

Vasilis said he plans to serve a few craft beers from small local breweries, including Barrier Brewing Company in Long Island, but the focus will be on the meat.

“We want to be known for our food,” he said, specifically recommending the smoked pork loin and smoked salmon.

To spice the meats the chef will be using herbs grown inside the vast smokehouse.

The 5,000 square feet indoor space, previously a Blockbuster video store, can easily fit a few hundred people, Vasilis said. There is also a stage where live bands will play music, mostly bluegrass and country.

Customers will sit at casual communal tables made of reclaimed lumber, and both water and sauces will be served in empty whiskey bottles.

“We want to be a stroller-friendly family place,” he said. “The whole purpose of this space is to bring this neighborhood together.”

He said the portion of Astoria below 31st Avenue, where the smokehouse is located, is often seen as a stepchild of the greater neighborhood, where people don’t come to hang out. “We are hoping to change that,” he said.

Vasilis also said that the name he picked for the venue is not a coincidence.

In the past, he said, many businesses in the area had the word “strand” in their names, which possibly originated from an old movie theater on Broadway — The Strand Theater — which closed in the 1980s.

“We want to honor that heritage,” Vasilis said.