Staunton’s Irish/Peruvian Restaurant: Where the Chef Combines Ingredients Like the Owner Combines Cuisines

by Jason Roth on August 10, 2010

When you just can’t find a third-rate, Bolivian/Scottish karaoke joint, Staunton’s is a great alternative. The lady tending bar is very friendly, to be sure, and for all I know, so is the person responsible for the bowl of semi-flavorless heavy cream and side order of mashed potatoes (more formally known as World’s Worst Shepherd’s Pie Ever). Nice people may or may not be able to cook and serve food.

Always on the look-out for strange and unusual restaurants to try, I biked by this place in Oakland Gardens, Queens, located where no one has an interest in building a subway station.  There did seem to be a friendly collection of characters here, which I guess is to be expected if you choose to barricade yourself in a local bar for four or five centuries. There was no sign, as far as I could tell, that any sort of news, air, or light had ever penetrated the walls of Staunton’s for some time. But not to get overly harsh, it was perfectly clean, and said characters did rip it up to the most technologically inept karaoke  buffoon/DJ I’ve ever come across. (Watching him hunt and peck his way across a keyboard to download special requests from the Internet was especially amusing.)

So, if you want a good place to sing obscure 60s songs with fellow tattooed 50-something former bikers and groupies, this is your place. Just do yourself a favor and eat before entering.

A few squid ruining a perfectly good bowl of cream.

I should disclose that I am no Peruvian food aficionado. However, I think that because I’ve at least had one good experience with the cuisine, I am justified in directing blame for my Staunton’s meal on Staunton’s chef rather than on the entire nation of Peru. The best way of describing the bowl of cream sauce put in front of me would be: elementary school cafeteria New England-style seafood chowder made at a school so far outside of new New England that insulting fish in this way is your way of disproving natural selection and considered fundamental to your Creationism curriculum. But natural selection deserves none of the blame for what was in that bowl. Nature had no way of knowing that this is what man would do to fish.

If only the Irish part of the meal were as good.

Like a decent apple pie with no apples.

Sure, the mashed potatoes looked fine. And if I had ordered mashed potatoes, maybe I wouldn’t be complaining. Really what I’m annoyed about is that I forgot to snap a photo of the half-eaten Shepherd’s Pie so you could share my sense of wonder at how those few, poor peas and three spoon-fulls of ground beef somehow managed not to be crushed by that massive weight of potato. Yes, the potatoes were nicely browned. No, the meat was not. I don’t think the meat even had flavor on the day it was made. You might say the world’s worst Shepherd’s Pie is the one completely lacking in flavor. You’d be wrong. It’s the one not only lacking in flavor, but lacking in mass of flavorless substance. A dish that leaves you wishing you simply had more to complain about.

If you are about to die from a severe black bean deficiency and when you look over your shoulder, all you see is a sign for Staunton’s, go for it. Eat your beans and be gone. I liked those beans.

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