I was walking along Queens Blvd with a friend, heading for a local restaurant, and we saw Banter on the corner - and in the window was a keg and a bog with the Jameson name burned into the wood. We looked at each other, and decided this was a sign, so with no information about the place, we went in.
Not a large place - crowded, and moderately noisy. But a friendly hostess at the door welcomed us, and they arranged a table for two and we were quickly seated. My friend had a briefcase and a large umbrella, which they took and stored for us. The waiter told us they had the largest selection of whiskey in New York, and looking at the bar list, I believe it. First thing I saw was a house cocktail made with Teeling (A lovely but little known Irish whiskey) They had a long full page of just Irish whiskey, including both kinds of Jameson Cask, and three kinds of Teeling.
Appetizers - we had a scotch egg (beautifully done) and Jameson stuffed rolls and bubble and squeak. (If you don't know it, go forth and experience a wonderful taste experience. And all of these were wonderfully done.)
One of the house special is a lamb shank and we both went along. As we waited for the dinner to arrive we greatly enjoyed the appetizers. The waiter was very good - Irish himself - and when the shank was ready we were informed, even though we had not quite finished the first round. (We took the leftover bits away with us.)
Huge portions and beautifully served, We had left the preparation of the meat up to the chef - slightly well done but moist, lovely presentation, lots of vegetables and mash, and we watched with admiration the presentation of other dishes at tables around us. A salmon salad looked wonderful, the lamb stew was artistically served - the staff was friendly and efficient and stepped up whether or not "our" server.
No question of dessert - we each took away large containers of our entree - lamb for breakfast! I even went into the kitchen to compliment the chef.
The restaurant is one block away from the subway exit at Forest Hills-71st and two blocks away from the LIRR station. The bar list alone is worth the trip from Manhattan or any of the other boroughs, the place is charming and the food not expensive (the lamb was $25), the staff is delightful and a number of tables for two are along the window wall. In good weather, there are outside tables as well. This was a real find - a sign from heaven indeed!
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