Forest Hills review reviewed

Well, you snooze, you lose. When I got back to the office yesterday after my long Chicago weekend, I had a message on my voicemail from the deputy editor of Time Out New York, asking for confirmation on whether or not Melissa and I share a last name. (As of right now, we don’t.) Today, the Forest Hills article Time Out did with our participation is out, and lo and behold, we have no last names at all! But I doth protest too much. The article is quite good and does a bang-up job of capturing how I actually talk, as in with a lot of exclamation points and out-of-nowhere interjections of trivia. Plus I think we came off the best out of the three Queens neighborhoods profiled — the others being Sunnyside and Jackson Heights, both of which I think have their merits but left their respective TONY profilers unwowed. That’s because the FH rules, of course.

The only other complaint I have is that I am quoted as using the word “puny,” which I’m positive I did not say. Have I ever said “puny”?

But to Kirk and Michael, the TONY crew, if you’re reading this: Great job. Thanks for dropping by, and thanks for calling me “witty,” which I guarantee you I will repeat endlessly at every available opportunity (as in: “Witty!” -Time Out New York). Come back sometime and we’ll take you to another Thai restaurant. And if you ever want to send me to Staten Island or someplace similarly unfashionable for a future piece, oh man, do I ever have vacation days.


30 responses to “Forest Hills review reviewed

  1. Quick question — except for Eddie’s, it looked like everyplace on the list was between Continental and Ascan, and on Austin Blvd.

    Was there a time factor involved, or have you not had any luck with the restaurants on Metropolitan?

  2. Well, I don’t know how well they drove this home in the magazine, but the premise of the article was that the writer had moved into the neighborhood, and here’s what he might do on his first day. I don’t live near Metropolitan, so we naturally focused on the places closer to me. I did feel like we had to go for a walk through the Gardens and head over to Eddie’s while we were at it, and we did take a walk down Metropolitan, but we definitely didn’t have room for any more food, and either Kirk didn’t see any shopping that caught his fancy or he didn’t think it was realistic that he’d regularly shop there while living where I live. Everything you read about happened over the course of one Friday night and Saturday morning/afternoon, so yeah, there were time constraints, too.

    My favorite restaurant in Forest Hills is on Metropolitan! DB Wine Bar — some of my favorite food anywhere. And I’ve enjoyed several of the other places on the street, too. But I have to feel like taking a little bit of a walk to go there.

  3. Staten Island unfashionable? It’s Shaolin, home of the Wu! I’m surprised there aren’t tours that go through the 1-6-0.

  4. Wu or not, ain’t nobody out there who wants to take a ferry to work.

  5. Hi–

    I was so happy to see Forest Hills annointed as one of the “nabes” that are “heating up.” I, too, wondered why you didn’t bring him to DB Wine Bar, but I guess if the premise of the article is what one would do on the first day in the neighborhood, where you took him makes sense. When my husband and I moved here from Brooklyn a year and a half ago, we went to Q Thai Bistro, but we haven’t been back because we thought it was way overpriced for the quality of the food. But maybe we should give it another chance.

    Anyway, it’s great to know there are other bloggers in Forest Hills–I look forward to reading more of your posts!

  6. Hey, Sarah — I’ve seen your Chowhound posts before, and I check in from time to time at your blog, too. I feel like what with this, my original Forest Hills post getting picked up by Curbed, Chowhound’s Outer Boroughs board, and my finally getting around to posting some Flickr photos, I’m finally getting to know the FH Web 2.0 regulars.

    I like Q a lot because it’s a bit of a different, more-upscale take on the same old Thai (plus it’s super close to my apartment), but I never said it wasn’t way overpriced!

  7. But the ferry is where you battle other MCs to warm up for your day in the Bronx!

  8. Okay — that makes a lot more sense. I miscalculated where you and the TONY reporter were walking around from, and had thought you were closer to my area of the neighbourhood.

    And it’s good to hear something about DB’s — I’ve been curious about it since it opened up in Dee’s old place, but for some reason every time I plan on trying it, I end up back at Metro Cafe instead.

  9. The article seemed a little unclear about what Forest Hills Gardens is (I don’t think that it extends to Metropolitan). Other than that, a nice read. Good suggestions, although not mentioning Nicks? For shame!

  10. Yeah, I think the writer got Forest Hills Gardens wrong. We went for a walk through the Gardens and got spit out at Metropolitan and Ascan — I guess he thought we were still in the Gardens. Perhaps I didn’t adequately explain it.

    Nick’s was on the schedule but got cut due to filling up on bagels and ice cream! He didn’t think he could handle it. He told me he was considering coming back the next day just to eat there, but I suppose that was against the rules.

  11. Loved the Time Out article on Forest Hills. We live in a, ahem, “puny” apartment in the East Village and just had a baby boy. WE GOTTA GET OUT OF HERE! My wife loves Forest Hills. I was dubious until I took a closer look. Any suggestions about how to go about finding a great place?



  12. Hi,

    My Boyfriend and I have lived in Forest Hills for a year and a half now as well, we live off of Yellowstone. I am not an avid blog reader, but I did read the article in TONY and was proud to see my neighborhood highlighted, which led me to you. I did have a question, do you find yourself going out a lot in FH or do you still go into the city. I am finding more families and not many mid-twenties/early thirties couples here. Do you feel the same?


  13. Micah: Ah, yes, the couple-in-small-apartment-with-new-baby is probably the ideal candidate to move to Forest Hills. There are tons of real-estate agencies around here that will be happy to help you. Try the C0-op Connection (despite the name, they do rentals, too), the only one we used really extensively. But absolutely the best way to find an apartment in the Hills is Craigslist — that’s how we found both of ours. A lot of (sometimes shady) agents list through there, but the by-owner listings are the real way to go. Most of the apartments in the neighborhood are co-ops, and if you’re looking to rent, you’ll find plenty of individual apartment owners looking to rent theirs out. That’s what we did for our first rental place. Then, when we were looking to buy two years later, we found a great apartment for sale by owner there, no agents involved whatsoever. Good luck! And hey, check back in and let me know how you did.

    Rebecca: I’d say there are probably a few more families in Forest Hills than there are youngish couples. Because it’s Queens and there are lots of free-standing private houses, that’s always going to be true. But I also find that’s changing quite a bit in areas like you and I live in, areas that are heavy with apartment buildings. When I moved here two-and-a-half years ago, it was definitely an older crowd. It’s still not the youngest crowd around — things don’t change that quickly — but it’s palpably younger.

    As for going out: I’d say it’s about half and half, which is the great thing about Forest Hills. Nothing is ever going to be Manhattan in terms of places to eat and drink and whatever. Even your ritzy or hip Brooklyn neighborhoods, let’s face it, aren’t Manhattan. But we live two blocks from the subway, and it’s 20 minutes into the city, so Forest Hills provides really easy access to Manhattan when we want to go out. And at the same time, if we don’t really feel like dealing with the train, there are enough options around that we’re not forced to do anything we don’t want to do or just to stay home. (Plus, if we don’t even feel like leaving the apartment, which happens more than you might think, I don’t discount the luxury of having plenty of restaurants around that deliver.)

    I’m mostly talking about eating, though, or grabbing some ice cream and innocent stuff like that. In terms of nightlife, you still gotta go into the city, and we do that much more often than we stay in town.

  14. I came to your blog because of the Time Out New York article. My finace and I moved to Forest Hills in August and we love it here! I enjoyed checking out your blog, and I agree that you are witty!

  15. A great read on the TONY article a couple weeks back. Perfect timing as I’m currently looking to buy a place in Forest Hills. Thanks for the heads up on different places to look. Any other suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

  16. Flattery will get you everywhere, Alisa. If you’re still around, where did you move from?

    Kenny: I’m always excited about Forest Hills excitement. Here’s an unorthodox little suggestion for you. I don’t know how much you’ve explored the neighborhood, but as you may know, I’m a bit advocate of aimless walking around. It’s a great way to get to know the place so you’re educated about where to go and what to expect. You can cut off dishonest real-estate agents at the pass when they tell you a place is “right around the corner” from the subway or a “five-minute walk” from major shopping. And you can find little areas you really like and want to focus on. When we found our first Forest Hills apartment, we were sold by the fact that it was a block away from a great little park — but it wasn’t a block away on the main drag, so we would never have found it if we hadn’t done some exploring. The great thing about Forest Hills is that it’s a nice, safe neighborhood surrounded by other reasonably safe neighborhoods, so you don’t really have to worry about wandering into someplace you might rather not be.

    Other than that, this might be mostly a personal preference, but check out the area around the 75th Ave. subway stop (aka the Kew Gardens side). 71st is the center of the neighborhood, but 75th is generally more reasonably priced while still being on express subway lines and within spitting distance of the real action. The area around the 67th Ave. station (the Rego Park side) is probably even cheaper, but when I bought, I never even really seriously considered it because the train runs local, and I can’t deal with that. It’s farther from 71st, too, though it looks a lot closer on the subway map, for some reason. And the Kew Gardens side is a little quieter, if you go for that sort of thing.

  17. I am from a little town in Western Pennsylvania north of Pittsburgh. I started Grad school last January and stayed in an apartment that the university gave me in Manhattan. I had to find my own apartment before starting in the fall and my fiance gave up “glamorous” Younstown, OH to join me. A friend of a friend suggested Queens so we could get more space for our buck. I liked that idea since I was tired of living like a student and wanted a “grown up” apartment. I didn’t know how I would like not living in Manhattan, but I don’t care about that anymore! I have a nice one bedroom instead of a crowded overpriced studio, and I get a lot of reading done on the train!

  18. I moved out of Forest Hills almost 3 years ago and still miss it. If we ever make it back to NY I plan to go back. I loved, Q, Nicks and the indie theater in Kew Gardens that was filled with all the elderly people. Even places like Santa Fe Steakhouse weren’t bad for some things (the fried ice cream).

  19. Would you believe I’ve never even been to the indie theater? I think I might make a trip this coming weekend, actually. to see Pan’s Labyrinth.

    I actually had a decent prix fixe at Santa Fe the one time I’ve ever been there! Lots of food for little money is fine by me.

  20. Steve – You MUST go to the Kew Gardens cinema. It is a true gem, as is Mehak, the little Indian restaurant around the corner and of course, Dani’s House of Pizza – two of the best eats in Queens.

  21. Actually, though I had no idea where Mehak was, I order from them all the time through the Take Out Connection. Definitely some very good Indian.

  22. Steve,
    I am grateful for the article and the discussion I find here. My husband and I are moving to NY from Paris in August with two children aged 9 and 6. We will both work in the city (I am posted to the UN). We don’t know NY at all but I know I don’t want to live in the city. Friends have mentioned Larchmont and Forest Hill Gardens (there is a nearby UNIS school?). Is the the FH community a good mix – is it international or not? Could you compare it to Larchmont? I am in the dark and would be grateful if you could educate me – we want to make an informed decision!

  23. How can I not help out when thanked in advance in French?

    That’s a very interesting question. Forest Hills Gardens and Larchmont are both lovely places, but they’re also very, very different, so if you’re choosing between those two, your decision should be easy depending on what you want.

    Forest Hills Gardens is, I think, one of the nicest neighborhoods in New York City. I don’t live there, but I do live a few blocks away and often go for walks there. It’s a planned community that was designed around the turn of the 20th century by the son of the man who built New York’s Central Park, and it’s meant to look like an English village. Many of the houses, both standalone and townhouses, are Tudor-style, and it’s full of charming winding streets, gardens and parks. It often feels very European, which might make you comfortable. The whole neighborhood is actually private property — it’s not gated and non-residents are free to walk or drive through, but they can’t park their cars there. It’s really a beautiful place.

    But the most interesting part about Forest Hills Gardens is that you look around and seem to be in the middle of a wealthy, elite, idyllic suburb, then you cross under the Long Island Rail Road overpass and walk a block, and you’re on Queens Boulevard, where I live, a 12-lane road with cars, trucks and buses whizzing back and forth at all hours. The New York City subway runs down its length and will have you in Manhattan in 20 minutes, though you may prefer to take the commuter train from Forest Hills Gardens, which is more comfortable and will get you there in 15. And you’re also a short walk from two major shopping areas. You’re still very much part of the city. Don’t get me wrong — much of Forest Hills, even outside of the Gardens, is very residential and none of it is the picture you get in your head when you think “New York City.” But it’s definitively not the suburbs.

    The good news about Forest Hills is that yes, it’s a very international and diverse place. There are large immigrant populations from the former Soviet Union and China, but people come from all over the place. There are people in my building from Australia, Ireland and Africa. The guy who runs my gym is Italian. There’s a great new Japanese convenience store just a few blocks from my apartment. The greatest women’s chess player in the world, from Hungary, lives and runs a chess school here.

    I’d never heard of a UNIS school near here, but I looked into it and found that there’s one in Jamaica Estates. Jamaica Estates is just a few miles east of here, so yes, you’re right about that.

    Larchmont is a suburb in Westchester County, so if you move there, you’ll be in a quieter, suburban environment. You’ll get the suburban experience in Forest Hills Gardens — more of a European concept of a suburb than an American one — but you won’t be surrounded by cute little towns. You’ll be more in the middle of a huge, teeming city, which I personally love but you may not. In contrast, much of Westchester is hilly, quaint villages with cute little downtowns and village greens and parades. Many of them, including Larchmont, are on the water. Life is going to move a little slower and people are going to be a little friendlier.

    So what’s the downside to Larchmont? It’s not going to be anywhere near as diverse, not even close. The more-desirable Westchester suburbs tend to be very white, very rich and very native-born American. It’s also going to be a bit of a longer trip into the city, though the Metro North railroad will conveniently drop you off very close to the UN, so actually, your commute may end up being pretty close in duration. But remember also that Metro North trains run every half hour or so, whereas the subway comes every few minutes, plus you’ll have to transfer to the subway to get anywhere but Grand Central Terminal. (EDIT: Well, reading up on Larchmont a bit before going to bed, I found out I was wrong about Larchmont’s internationalism. Turns out there’s a big French expat community, which is, I suppose, why you heard about it!)

    If you’re looking for more suggestions, I’ve often heard that a lot of UN employees live in Riverdale, which is a neighborhood in the Bronx. Like Forest Hills, it has a secluded section full of grand houses and winding roads where you’d never believe you’re in New York City. One advantage to Riverdale is that because of its proximity to Manhattan, Metro North could get you to Grand Central and the UN in a hurry.

    I have no idea what your budget is, but I should probably mention that none of these three neighborhoods — Forest Hills Gardens, Larchmont and Riverdale — is cheap. Forest Hills Gardens and Riverdale contain some of the priciest real estate in the city, and Larchmont is typical of expensive waterfront suburbs.

    So was that helpful? Let me know what you’re thinking!

  24. Dear Steve,

    You are very kind and helpful indeed. Thank you. We will be visiting the areas next weekend to get some sense of things. That 12 lane Queens Blvd sounds off-putting, I must say. But a shorter commute is tempting too. From the gardens can you walk to the subway and to restaurants and is it a safe walk? And is there a sense of community where neighbors get together or not?

    Again, I am very grateful for you insight.

  25. My pleasure, as always. Yes, the Gardens is a short, easy and safe walk to the subway and all the shopping you could possibly want. That’s another difference from a place like Larchmont, which would be less walkable.

    Everything I’ve heard and read about the Gardens suggests that it’s pretty tight-knit. Everybody is a partner in a big homeowners’ association, so there’s a lot of community involvement going on. And there are always people out strolling and walking dogs, that sort of thing. Never been invited to a garden party there, but I have to imagine they’re happening!

  26. Hi Steve,

    I wrote about a month ago, inquiring about moving from the East Village to Forest Hills. You welcomed updates, so here we go. We have decided to move for sure, and probably to Forest Hills, which my wife loves. We have a 6-month-old son, Noah. We’ll be contacting a realtor and already are scoping out Craigslist. We would love to live in Forest Hills Gardens but are not sure we can make it on our budget, though there does occasionally seem to be places in our price range. We want 3 bedrooms! We need space! NOAH!!!! 🙂

    Uh, anyway, we’re New Yorkers and we’ll be cruising around, checking out the nabe. Any thoughts from folks on cool places to visit? Or upcoming available rentals? (We plan to move in August.) Or places we should rule out as too creepy? For example, Parker Towers looked kinda cool, but every review of it I saw was negative.

    I’ll keep you posted on our search.

    Best wishes, Micah

  27. Hey, Micah, thanks for the update! Didn’t see your comment until I checked just now — I’m not getting alert e-mails right now due to a server glitch. I’ve actually never heard anything bad about Parker Towers — everybody knows someone who lives there or has lived there in the past, and I’m not sure if I’ve ever heard anyone beam about their experience there, but I’ve certainly never heard any complaining.

    Let me tell you something about the Gardens. I love the Gardens, I really do. But for apartment living? I was walking down Burns last night to meet my wife at the LIRR station, passing several lovely apartment buildings along the way, and I still couldn’t help but thinking: These are great, but why would you live here when you could pay half as much to live right on the other side of the tracks? (And that’s the side where all the shopping and public transportation are, too.) If I had a couple of million to blow and was looking for a house, the Gardens would be at the top of my list, but for an apartment, it seems drastically overpriced.

    I can definitely tell you that three bedrooms is going to limit you a little (though by all means, go for it). My building, for example, doesn’t have anything bigger than two bedrooms, two baths. You might have some luck in a place like Kennedy House or the Pinnacle, near me — I’m not sure if they offer three bedrooms, but they’re both huge and fairly luxurious, which makes me think they might. Also, definitely, definitely ask about the presidential buildings. Those are the buildings named after presidents and founding fathers — the James Madison, the Benjamin Franklin, etc. etc. They’re some of the most popular buildings in town, mostly well-located, well-kept, good amenities, doormen, big apartments. I’m not sure if they have three bedrooms, but something tells me they might, too.

    I could be totally wrong, of course!

    Once you start looking around here, you may find that if you’re looking for space, you may not even need three bedrooms. Trust me, your average Forest Hills two bedroom is way bigger than your average East Village two bedroom. Manhattanites are shocked when they come here and see the size of the apartments.

  28. Are there gay restaurants or bars in forest hills? If so where.

  29. There used to be a gay bar a block away from my apartment, but it’s a pet store now. As for restaurants, I’m not sure what might be considered “gay friendly.” Why don’t you try asking on my new Forest Hills message board?

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