Monday, September 19, 2011

Cafe Havana - Smithtown

Cafe Havana Bar and Grill is a fun place to go if you're looking for something different.

From the second you pull into the parking lot - you'll feel like you've traveled to the tropics for a meal.
The menu features Cuban food with Puerto-Rican influences and an atmosphere to match.

Lauren and I were seated in one of 3 large rooms. The place had a pretty decent crowd for a Thursday night and was especially loud because of a big party going on in the next room.

Our friendly waitress took drink orders first.
Lauren started with a Sangria, which I of course sampled. It had fruit floating in it and was delicious.
I ordered the Mango Mojito, which was also wonderful.

For the main course, Lauren ordered Arroz con Pollo (Boneless chicken and savory rice.) The rice was served in the center of the dish with more chicken mixed in seasoned with cilantro and surrounded by moist chicken in a gravy sauce.

I ordered the Chorizo a la Havana (Sauteed Sausage with Savory Saffron Yellow Rice.
The dish was well flavored but I found it to be a bit too salty.
Interestingly enough, nothing had any kind of spicy kick to it.
It's definitely the place to go - if you like your food well seasoned but mild in terms of spiciness.

Lauren and I actually ended up switching dishes because we liked what the other one ordered better. I enjoyed the Cilantro rice and chicken, which Lauren found a little dry.
And she loved my sausage dish, which I found too salty. Worked out perfectly for us.
We did both comment on how full we felt after the meal. We ended up having some leftover too. I think it was the rice that did it.
We also filled up on bread before the meal. It came with a mango butter, which we both found to be a nice touch.

So you think we would be too full for dessert. Wrong. All we had to do was look at the menu and we instantly became hooked.
We opted for the "Havana's Bananas" dessert. It is fried banana pieces with chocolate sauce, powdered sugar and served with vanilla ice cream.
It was REALLY good.

All in all - I wouldn't completely agree with what the menu boasts. It calls itself "The Most exquisite meals this Island has to offer." While it was good and a fun atmosphere - It's not the best Lauren and I have ever had.

We give Cafe Havana a 3 out of 5 mints on the dinner mint scale. Cafe Havana on Urbanspoon

Thom Thom - Wantagh

Thom Thom is a steak and seafood restaurant providing classic favorites with a modern twist, including a unique sushi bar menu. The casual atmosphere of the NYC themed dining room is inviting and comfortable. For an even MORE low-key experience, you can opt to sit in the enclosed bar section.

Instead of the traditional bread, warm pita is served at the beginning of each meal along with humus and a scrumptious yogurt based dipping sauce. For my entree, I decided to order the "Surf and Turf Roll," which consists of shrimp tempura and asparagus topped with grilled filet mignon, scallions and a drizzle of steak sauce. The filet was cooked medium rare and the flavors were a powerful (but not overpowering) combination. I loved it!

One of my guests selected Thom Thom Paella which included jumbo wild shrimps, diver scallops, calamari, chicken, mussels and chorizo. I sampled the dish. It was tasty, but served lukewarm rather than piping hot. The presentation was a bit of a mess. However, I could tell the fish and chicken was fine quality. My guest was disappointed in the flavoring of the dish overall and would probably not order it again.
We also sampled the Clay Oven Roasted All Natural Chicken served with asparagus, scallion potato cake and a chicken demi glaze. It was satisfying, but the chicken was a bit bland for my taste and there was nothing terribly unique about the dish... highly forgettable.

What the entrees lack in flavor and pizazz, the sushi menu and small plates menu make up for. The Flatbread Goat Cheese Pizza is DELISH! Thom Thom receives 3.5 out of 5 Mints on the Dinner Mint scale. Thom Thom Steak & Seafood on Urbanspoon

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Blackwells - Wading River

Located at the gateway to Long Island's Wine Country, Blackwells is an inviting steak and seafood restaurant with stellar service and quality cuisine to match.

Enjoying the beautiful views of the Great Rock Golf Course, the inside of the restaurant is elegant, and yet encompasses a homey feel. I started off with the Mesclun House Salad which included tomatoes, goat cheese, toasted almonds and dried cherries. I opted for a creamy blue cheese dressing on the side over their house vinaigrette. A restaurant of this caliber could have served warm goat cheese in a light flaky crust to give the salad a bit more pizazz. Nevertheless, is was quite tasty.

For my entree, I selected the special, a toasted almond crusted flounder served with roasted potatoes and broccoli. The fish was deliciously seasoned and cooked very well. The slightly healthier sides paired nicley with the flounder.
One of my guests chose the strip steak. A self-proclaimed steakhouse lover, he deemed the juiciness of the steak and quality of the cut to be merely a small notch below the fine steakhouses of New York City.

During previous visits to Blackwells, I have ordered the filet mignon. I must say, the filet came close to just "melting in my mouth"! I've had the homemade fries and frizzled onions as sides as well... tasty, but nothing unique. Blackwell's Four Cheese Macoroni and Cheese is definitely on my "to do" list!

For dessert, we opted for the rice pudding.
The consistency seemed balanced, it was a beautiful presentation in a margarita glass with sliced strawberries on top and I enjoyed the cinnamon (although one of my guests noted that it was a bit TOO much cinnamon for her liking). The flavor overall was... "eh." Bottom line, everyone agreed that Blackwell's will not be winning an award for their rice pudding anytime soon.

Blackwells receives 4 out of 5 Mints on the Dinner Mint Scale. Blackwell's Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Monday, September 5, 2011

Besito - Roslyn

If you are looking for a fine dining Mexican experience, Besito is a solid pick. A tranquil and romantic ambiance, candles and warm colors leave guests feeling welcomed and relaxed. Looking to dine outside during a beautiful evening? Besito offers outdoor seating as well!

Besito was quick to pick up points early on with a complimentary Ceviche Del Dia appetizer served with crisp plantains and corn tortilla chips. We ordered the freshly prepared guacamole as an appetizer as well. Though the guacamole had a bit too much cilantro for my group's liking, we had no problem devouring it.

For my main course, I stuck with a simple grilled shrimp, with a mild chile salsa and house rice. While the shrimps were a bit smaller than expected for the price, they were cooked well and quite tasty. However, I must admit that the homemade rice (which was DELICIOUS) stood out more in my mind than my shrimp entree (which is never an ideal situation). I enjoyed my shrimp entree at H20 in Smithtown (see Alex's review!) MUCH more... no comparison.

For dessert, I had the opportunity to sample my friend Nicole's Mexican Chocolate Pudding. I appreciated it's light, fluffy texture and not TOO rich chocolatey (yes, I am making up my own words now) taste. Best part about the meal for me? EASY! - Complimentary, piping hot Churros to end the meal! WOW! Talk about saving the best for last, Besito! Also, each guest walks away with a complimentary traditional Mexican "worry person doll." Very memorable. GREAT touch!

Here's Nicole's review of her meal in her own words: "I had one of the specials... chicken, steak and chorizo enchalata with a chipolte cream sauce. The sauce was to die for... not too heavy but just the right consistency. Gave the dish the right amount of smokiness without overpowering the meats. The meats were soaked in a red sauce which gave them a good flavor, again not over powering. The only thing that I didn't like about this dish (or more like would change if I was being picky) would be that the actual corn toritta was a little thick. I enjoy my enchiladas when you can use your fork to cut it apart -- this corn tortilla was more of a "wrap" consistency.

Even though I was stuffed, I ordered the Mexican Chocolate Pudding. This was great with homemade whipped cream and the pudding was in between a pudding and a mousse consistency. There were some crunchy things on top... didn't really go for that. Also, though obviously homemade pudding, there seemed to be "patches" of ingredients that didn't mix in all the way (think when you mix brownie batter and there are "patches" of dry mix in there)." -- Nicole R.

Lauren, again here! Thanks for your review, Nicole! As for Besito's rating? We're going with 4 out of 5 Mints on the CRUCIAL Dinner Mint Scale. Besito on Urbanspoon

Saturday, September 3, 2011

H20 - Smithtown

H20 is an upscale Seafood restaurant and grill located right off Jericho turnpike in Smithtown.
Lauren and I were excited about this place since we first drove by it and we certainly were not disappointed.
Upon arrival, we both commented on the beautiful exterior of the restaurant. The trees are all lit up and to get to the front door, you must walk through a beautiful outdoor patio.

Lauren and I were seated in a very comfortable booth in the main dining hall.
Our waitress, Margarete, greeted us with a smile and handed us large menus along with a wine list.

Lauren ordered a glass of White wine and I had a delicious coke. Let me take a minute to discuss how I feel about restaurant Cola. Coke or Pepsi at every restaurant does not taste the same. I always said I wanted to be a tester for the Coke company and make sure the balance of Syrup and CO2 was the same everywhere.
But, like everything else at H20, the soda was in perfect balance.

Being that H20 is a seafood restaurant, we started off with Half a dozen little neck clams, which Lauren once again refused, and a spicy tuna roll from the Sushi bar.
Both were delicious.
The bread and oil brought to the table also make for a tasty beginning.
Hard not to fill up on their bread.

I commented to Lauren that my mouth was filled with delicious tastes that all went together. H2O certainly knows how to stimulate the palate. We were both discussing how much we were enjoying ourselves before the main course even arrived.

Lauren ordered Jumbo Shrimp with Corn on the cob and Asparagus - which she said was delicious. She said the shrimp were really huge, filling and well seasoned.
I ordered the Marinated Skirt Steak with Asparagus and Mashed Potatoes (which I had them switch out for Wasabi Mashed Potatoes)
This was of course no problem. The staff of people serving us, were all very attentive and helpful.
The meal was one of the best I have had in a long time. The steak was juicy and tender and seasoned incredibly well. The gravy was awesome and I loved how the steak was served, sliced with the ends crispy.

Lauren and I were too full for dessert, but we did manage to sneak a peek at the menu. Everything looked great! I'm sure we'll be eating there again soon.

This place gets a 5 out of 5 - on the Dinner mint scale.
An incredibly enjoyable restaurant and night out!

H2O Seafood Grill on Urbanspoon