Saturday, August 27, 2011

Sushi Ya - Garden City

I ventured to Sushi Ya, a combination hibachi restaurant and sushi bar, with my friend Kensley (not Alex... I know, sadness) on Friday night. I would like to disclose that neither one of us are hardcore sushi lovers, but enjoy Japanese cuisine and sampling different rolls. Kensley also appreciates fresh sashimi.

So what's the story? Well, I had a traditional California roll that was certainly fresh, but reminded me of other LI sushi bars. I also started with miso soup and the traditional salad with ginger dressing. The soup arrived piping hot (points for that!). However, the salad was drenched in the ginger dressing. Needless to say it was one of the first times I was DYING for a citrus sorbet to cleanse my palate.

The presentation as seen in the photo below was nothing to write home about. Kensley selected tuna and salmon. He noted that his meal was tasty, but like me, nothing exquisite. The atmosphere was inviting. Dim lighting and candles helped to set the mood for a fine dining experience, however, the blaring Billy Joel music through me for a loop. Don't get me wrong, I love "Moving Out" just as much as the next Long Islander, but it simply has no place in a so called "trendy" sushi bar on Franklin Avenue.

Alex would have LOVED the chairs!... Super comfy, almost cozy couch-like! The seating was lower to the ground as well, which added to the Asian flare. With regard to pricing... definitely overpriced. I'm quite confident I could have saved 10 bucks EASILY while getting the same quality over in Bethpage or Wantagh.

You may want to save your money and skip this one folks! Alex - You did not miss out. Sushi Ya receives 2 out of 5 Mints on the dinner mint scale.
Sushi Ya on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Houston's - Garden City

Whether it's a semi-casual date, a business lunch or a catch-up with your friends, Houston's is the ideal restaurant to keep everyone happy! It's dim lighting, comfortable booths and business casual vibe allows guests to dress up for a date or down for a get-together and still feel welcomed.

A self-proclaimed spinach dip JUNKIE, I can honestly say one of the best spinach and artichoke dips I have ever tasted is Houston's... both creamy and thick. The dip is served with thin, crispy chips that are salted to perfection. Need more chips? Just ask your server and they will promptly bring over more. It's a must order appetizer! Houston's traditional mixed green salad with smokehouse bacon, chopped egg and homemade croutons redefines the term "house salad."

Looking for a fabulous quality burger without steakhouse prices? Houston's bistro style burger is juicy, savory and includes mustard and mayo on top with all the usual fixings. The French Dip is also mouthwatering... piled high rare roast beef au jus.

For those of you with a sweet tooth, I highly recommend the Warm Five Nut Brownie with vanilla ice cream on top. Houston's overall rating is an easy one. With stellar service, charming yet comfortable/semi-causal atmosphere and GREAT quality food... Houston's receives a 5 out of 5 dinner mints on the Mint Scale. Houston's on Urbanspoon

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Cool Fish - Syosset

Let me start off by saying Cool Fish exceeded my expectations in every way.
Lauren and I were slightly thrown off when we arrived because we didn't realize the restaurant was "hidden" in an industrial park surrounded by businesses and parking lots.
But, we were quickly won over the second we stepped inside.
We were greeted by a polite hostess who smiled at us and asked us where we would like to sit.

The restaurant had a decent amount of customers for a Thursday night and perhaps one of the most notable features was the live musician we passed on the way to our table.
Lauren really took a liking to him and we found ourselves bopping to familiar tunes as we browsed through our delicious sounding dinner options.
Cool Fish is one of the many carefully engineered restaurants of businessman and chef Tom Schaudel.

(I think he was actually walking around greeting guests when Lauren and I were eating, but both of us were too intimidated to approach him. Maybe next time.)
Lauren and I sat in the main dining room, but as I learned from the website - you actually have the option of a more laid-back experience by the bar -with a separate "lighter fare" menu.

We both opted to start with wine which was delicious. Lauren had the Pino Grigio and I had a White Zinfandel. Both wines were tasty and smooth and went down easily.
I then opted for the price fix dinner which includes 3 courses for $35.00 (Note - this option is only available Mon-Thurs after 5pm)
I had a delicious caesar salad with very enjoyable dressing and a side order of raw little neck clams. (These are one of my favorite appetizers and I figured it would be a good test for a seafood restaurant)They were fresh, tasty and served chilled to perfection. (After I told Lauren they tasted deliciously like the ocean - she opted not to try it. I don't understand why someone wouldn't want the ocean in their mouth, but to each their own.)

Anyway, on to the main course. I selected the Sliced Steak with Mashed Potatoes and Asparagus. The steak came out just a touch less cooked than I liked it, especially for specifying "medium well," but the sauce was so good I ate it anyway.
It was filling and very enjoyable.

Lauren had the Pan Seared Maryland Lump Crab Cake which came with a Petite Herb Salad which she seemed to enjoy very much.
To finish off the night - we shared my third course dessert for which I selected the Passion Fruit Sorbet. (I have a slight obsession with Sorbets) It came with 2 scoops of the sorbet and interestingly enough, a chocolate wafer underneath, creme filling, raspberry sauce and topped with powdered sugar.
The combination was curious, but Lauren and I both ended up really liking it.

All in all - the place was among our favorite so far.
The restaurant interior designed by Brian Shore really added to the experience. Lauren and I both commented several times on the beautiful "fish themed" artwork around us and the warm feelings the room gave off. You will definitely be comfortable in this restaurant.
But while we're on the comfort topic. You're probably better off choosing a booth to sit in. While we enjoyed the feeling the room created and our dinner - we both realized halfway through the meal that our wood chairs weren't the most comfortable.
But it's a small price to pay for the delightful evening you're sure to have if you to Coolfish.
We gave it a 4 out of 5 mints on the dinner mint scale.
We will certainly be back again soon.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Prime – Huntington Bay

Perhaps "Prime" was not the "prime choice" for my most recent fine dinning experience. With the elegant atmosphere of a charming modern steakhouse and picturesque views of Huntington Bay, this "American kitchen and bar" certainly played the role of a solid upscale restaurant pick du jour. Unfortunately, the quality of the food did not live up to the expensive prices and stylish decor.

While the wait staff was dynamite, the chefs and bartenders merely could not keep up. Only on occasion do I send back a drink, but my passion fruit cosmo tasted like pure alcohol. However, I greatly appreciated the waiter quickly exchanging the cosmo for an enjoyable glass of sauvignon blanc.

For my main course I selected the beef wellington. While I traditionally order my steak "medium rare," I figured I would play it safe by ordering the wellington "medium," knowing that it is a difficult dish to prepare as the filet mignon is enclosed in a puff pastry. Nevertheless, the filet arrived on my plate raw. Back to the kitchen it went. However, five to seven minutes later I was happily enjoying my wellington. Though not the best I have tasted, the presentation was lovely and it was very tasty. The homemade tater tots on the side were outrageously delectable!

For dessert, I selected the burnt marshmallow atop a warm chocolate cake with coffee ice cream. I requested vanilla ice cream instead of coffee. "No problem!" said our polite and efficient waiter. Of course, the dessert arrived with coffee ice cream. However, it was indeed quickly replaced.

Overall, Prime is a beautiful restaurant with a tasty menu, but frankly, you are not getting the bang for your buck. I give Prime 3 out of 5 mints on the dinner mint scale.
Prime on Urbanspoon

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Asian Bistro Next Door - Woodbury

The newly opened Asian Bistro Next Door in Woodbury is a fine dining Asian Fusion restaurant that took the place of Graffiti Restaurant. (Graffiti, owned by the same person, was reopened next door with a fancier new look and menu.)

Asian Bistro Next Doo
r makes a great first impression. Lauren and I chose to sit outside, as it was a particularly beautiful summer night, but we both commented on the design of the restaurant as we made our way to the back patio. It's very sleek and chic looking and the staff is dressed to match - in contemporary Asian uniforms that match the restaurants theme colors of black and red.

Our waiter was patient and pleasant and exchanged the first drink I ordered - after I didn't like it. (That wasn't the restaurants fault - only my inexperience with various types of cold Sake.)

Anyway, Lauren and I both opted for the 4 course "tasting" menu - available Monday thru Thursday for $29.99
The restaurant definitely "excited our senses" as the website claims, but doesn't get a perfect review from us.
While each course was tasty - the food took forever to come out.
We genuinely felt we were waiting about a half hour between courses.
This is definitely not the place to go if you are starving - or if you need to be out in a hurry.

Lauren ordered the Pineapple XO Shrimp which she said was very good and I went with the Salmon Lemon Chili.
I love spicy food and I told Lauren the perfectly seasoned Salmon gave me a delightful tingle in my mouth.
The portions were bigger than we thought - considering the tasting menu served "tapas" style dishes - and we both commented after the meal about how we weren't overly stuffed.

All in all - it's a great restaurant if you're looking for an unusual artisan Asian dish.
But we did find one other problem - the cutlery.
The stylish silverware and silver chopsticks are so skinny that they are actually hard to hold.
In an attempt to be modern - they seemed to have overlooked practicality.

But if you can get past that - and have all the time in the world - then it might wind up being the perfect place for you.

For us - we give it a 3 on the mint scale out of 5 mints.