Best Mashed Potatoes (2003)

Astoria Restaurant

There are only two ways to do mashed potatoes: the right way and the wrong way. Most people think theirs are done the right way, and -- sorry to say -- most people are wrong. Potatoes, butter, cream and salt: These are the only necessary elements in making proper mashers, and at Astoria Restaurant -- an unbelievably authentic Eastern Russian joint -- proper mashers are what's being served on nearly every plate of good, solid Russian comfort food. There may be a place for Maytag bleu, chives and bacon, but a mound of spuds sitting beside a simple rack of lamb or thick, meaty stroganoff is not that place. So in praise of simple pleasures, this year the Oscar goes to Astoria for its uncomplicated 'taters: thick, lumpy, warm and filling, folded in with cold butter and nothing else.


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