There have been several Manhattan style restaurants that have come to our part of Astoria (north of Triboro and GCP) in the past few years. Places like Wave Thai and Athens Tavern have fit in well and have been positive additions to the neighborhood. When we first came across Mojave, it surprised us like no previous restaurant. We are big fans of Southwestern flavors and were more than a little excited to have this new trendy looking eatery on our main street.
22-36 31st Street, Astoria
We have now tried it twice for brunch and have been disappointed. On our first visit, I enjoyed the huevos rancheros very much- although it could have been the giant margarita talking. Spud thought her peccadillo of beef was flavorless, as it was just a large bowl of rice and beef that should have been much more flavorful. The service was decent considering it had just opened and the chips were warm and homemade.
On our second visit a couple of weeks later, we were both thoroughly disappointed. The menu had changed a little and there were some new interesting items. I had this eggs benedict crab dish, that the waiter assured me was fantastic, even though he doesn’t eat crab. It was completely flavorless, and not just lacking spice, but I couldn’t even taste the crab. For a SW restaurant, there should be some flavor. I am not saying every dish needs habanero peppers, I am saying it should taste like something, not some bland dish that I could order at any brunch anywhere. Spud ordered another signature dish, the hash with three kinds of meat. Again, it was flavorless and mostly chunks of potato. The guy at the next table sent the dish back because it had too many potatoes. The chips were not the same quality as the first time and the waiter was trying too hard, and not in a good way.
So, while Mojave is not awful, it’s brunch at least, is nothing out of the ordinary and it does not really fit in with this neighborhood. Restaurants in our Astoria are neighborhood joints that put the food and hospitality as primary importance. Trendy is fine, if it can be backed up with solid food and service. Mojave is trying to capitalize on its big space (which is quite nice), drinks and trendy vibe. I would try it again for lunch, or happy hour with friends, but sadly I can’t imagine that it will ever be grub-worthy. Why are there no genuine SW cuisine in NYC??? Mesa Grill comes closest, but it’s not like anywhere in Santa Fe….it’s quite odd…..