Located on busy College Point Blvd., which consists primarily of salons and pizza parlors, Cask 15 adds flair to the area. Due to the many shops on this main street and the unassuming exterior of the restaurant, Cask 15 can be hard to see, but customers who have a good eye will not be sorry.
As you walk inside, you are pulled in by the spacious environment and the variety of seating arrangements to choose from. Whether you prefer a cozy table for two by the window, a seat at a high-top table for a larger group, a casual drink at the bar or one of the restaurant’s whimsical canopy tables, there is a seat for everyone. With dim lighting and Latin American music, it is easy to relax as the attentive servers are eager to please.
The owners of Cask 15, David Gonzalez and John Torres, had a vision to bring the “hip” atmosphere of Manhattan to College Point.
After transforming the former pizza shop into a restaurant with a full bar and a dance floor back in 2013, longtime friend of the two owners Jeanette Vanderhorst came on as general manger to make their dreams a reality.
“What they wanted to do was bring a touch of New York City to College Point,” Vanderhorst said. “They wanted that same sort of atmosphere where you could have a night life in the evening, but still have fine dining during the day.”
The atmosphere is a hip, yet still humbly quaint place to eat during the day, but at night a place to kick back and enjoy drinks or dance until dawn.
Head chef at Cask 15, Jose Carlos Huasasquiche, joined in January and has transformed the menu, spicing dishes up with his own creative fusions.
Trained in classic French cuisine at the Institute of Culinary Education, Huasasquiche has worked under many acclaimed chefs,including Mario Batali. Having an eclectic background, Huasasquiche created a Latin American menu with a couple of his own inventions.
“I put my own twists on different things, but this is very Latin, Latin fusion,” Huasasquiche said. “For example, all of the sauces are finished with a French twist,” which he explained means “butter, butter and more butter.”
The menu also consists of a variety of tapas for those looking for a lighter meal, such as Momma’s Meatballs, which are accompanied by a sofrito, olives and a red wine sauce, or Alitas de Pollo, which are spicy chicken wings with Cask 15’s signature sauce.
Along with the not-so-typical staples, there is also a daily special that Huasasquiche decides on the spot. One appetizer special consisted of asparagus wrapped in prosciutto with a homemade sweet and sour aioli sauce on the side.
Before you get started with the food, however, you should treat yourself to one of the bar’s signature Mojitos, which come in a number of different flavors to choose from — coconut, mango, strawberry and more — all with mint leaves dancing within and all equally refreshing.
For an entrée, the hanger steak is a dish to die for, marinated in citrus juices like lime, lemon and orange and cooked to sizzling perfection. The steak is placed over creamy, mashed yucca with a side of mildly spicy rice and beans. The steak is tender — easy to cut and easier to eat. With a side of homemade steak sauce that creamy and rich, with a buttery taste that puts A1 to shame, the dish is nearly perfect.
Another entrée favorite is the fritto misto, which is a typical Italian dish of assorted fried seafood. Huasasquiche puts a Latin American twist on the dish by adding fried plantains to the shrimp and calamari. All of the fish is succulent, juicy and not too chewy.
The dish comes presented in a tower with different spices sprinkled throughout and explosions of flavor in every different bite. In the center of the tower, another Latin American surprise comes in the form of yucca fries.
For dessert, homemade monkey bread with an amaretto caramel sauce is an excellent choice for those with enough stomach left for it. Not only is the bread crunchy on the outside and warm and soft on the inside, but it is smothered in the caramel sauce in the least overbearing way possible. But for those who may be too full, there is no need to fear. You can head back to the bar for a liquid dessert in the form of a decadent chocolate martini, topped with whipped cream, chocolate chips and a cherry garnish. It doesn’t get much sweeter.
Whether you are on lunch break at work or want to head to a dance club on a Saturday night, Cask 15 is the place to go. It is remodeling the area and becoming “the new cool of College Point.”