It was the first Spring-like day of the year, so somewhat apropos to lunch at a place called La Flor. I've read about this cafe for years, and it took me that long to finally make it there. Kara, with whom I've been having eating adventures since elementary school, met me at 52nd Street. The only word we could use to describe the place, as soon as we saw it, was "cute". Such a cute little cafe, such cute marble-topped tables, such cute tiled mosaics. We sat at a table by the window, the sunlight filtering in. Cute, charming, cozy, quaint. "La Flor Bakery and Cafe in Woodside serves a delightful menu of Mexican specialties with a good selection of French and fusion dishes, plus great desserts and baked goods." That is how about.com described it in 2006, and I can't do much better than that. We decided to try one Mexican dish, one French-ish dish, and supplement with sides and desserts. Unfortunately we got there too late for the bread basket. They still had some muffins, but the waitress apologized, saying that without their scones it wasn't much of a basket. Next time.
Drinks to start us off:
Mexican hot chocolate for me. I do enjoy a good Mexican hot chocolate, and this one was made with milk, nice and frothy.
Kara got a Mexican Coke. She can't get them in her neighborhood. Ah Mexican Coke. You are made with cane sugar and we love you.
This was our appetizer, in two parts-
Melt-y brie and red wine poached pears covered in balsamic, with a mango salad. Makes no sense but delicious nonetheless. Or as Kara put it, "hits the spot". She said I could quote her on that. The mangoes were ripe and sweet, the red onions sharp, there were julienned carrots and cucumbers (or zucchini) for crunch, and baby greens tossed in. Refreshing. Served with toasted bread on the side. It worked.
Next up, corn salad. Grilled corn with bits of red pepper and scallions. I could be wrong, but I think I tasted soy sauce. An Asian inspired corn salad, perhaps? It was good, but nothing compared to the quesadilla.
Two thick, handmade tortillas sandwiching an obscene amount of vegetables and cheese. Grilled and smoky green and yellow squash, mushrooms, oaxaca cheese, and the best part - mashed potatoes. Mashed potatoes and melted cheese together! The two sauces were spicy and colorful, and the already large serving was generously dusted with cotija cheese. Much thought and care was put into this dish, and it showed.
We were already stuffed, but went for the banana bread pudding for dessert. More like french toast, this bread pudding was sliced from a large loaf, topped with creme anglaise and fresh strawberries and some chunks of peaches (I think). I also found half of a blueberry on my side. As full as we were, we somehow found the strength to finish the whole thing.
Lots has been said about this place. Some people love it, some people complain about it. Same as everywhere. It is definitely not the cheapest lunch I have had. We ended up spending around $40 after tax and tip. Yes, that's high for the neighborhood, but who really cares? There isn't any place like it in the neighborhood either. It was comfortable and welcoming, the food was unique, the menu was vast, and everything was fresh. I felt that I could have been anywhere, sipping from my white china cup, chatting with Kara, sharing plate after plate, oblivious to time and place. But the occasional rumble of the train above was a gentle reminder that we weren't just anywhere. We were under the 7, a great place to be.
La Flor Bakery and Cafe
5301 Roosevelt Ave