Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Novita - Garden City

Looking for the ideal place to grab a delicious glass of wine with friends? Then Novita is a MUST! It's my "go-to" spot for every girls night, those "let's grab a quick drink after work" dates and the Saturday nights when you want to doll yourself up and meet someone cute at a trendy bar with a glass of sauvignon blanc in hand, but you don't feel like trekking into the City on the LIRR. You know what I mean? Of course you do, if you're a Long Islander!

Though a bit pricey, Novita's wine list is to DIE FOR! Even my non-wino friends leave wanting to venture back to sample another type of wine. Plus, you cannot beat the Thursday Ladies Night deal! $3.00 champagne, pinot and cosmos, a DJ AND a FREE pasta and thin crust pizza buffet... all while dining in a trendy, NYC style atmosphere right in Garden City. It's a STEAL! Sundays are 50% off bottles... also a worthwhile deal to take advantage of.

Looking to nosh on something while sipping your wine? The appetizers are FAB! From the Meat and Cheese Platter to the Polenta Crusted Calamari to the Zucchini and Artichoke Fritti served with a horseradish ailoi, you cannot go wrong! Did I mention that you will be addicted to their Spinach Dip? You will. It's inevitable.
Obviously, I'm obsessed with Novita's wine bar experience. However, I unfortunately cannot say the same for it's dinner experience. As Long Islanders, we are accustomed to delicious, authentic Italian food which Novita simply does not provide. From their chicken dishes to their pasta dishes and soups, I've now had it all. Unfortunately, I have never left satisfied or craving more (God, it pains me to say this! But alas, you must know the truth.) I think the next time a friend or date mentions Novita for dinner, I am going to have to refrain.

This is a tough rating. However, since Novita IS indeed an Italian restaurant with the mission of providing delicious wine AND Italian cuisine, I will have to give it 3 out of 5 Mints on the Dinner Mint scale for less than satisfactory entrees. Nevertheless, PLEASE venture to Novita for the wine bar experience, you will not regret it... especially the ladies! Novita Wine Bar on Urbanspoon

Brooks and Porter - Merrick

Brooks and Porter American Grill is a casual, yet charming little steakhouse on Merrick Avenue. Dark wood and dim lighting makes for a warm and inviting dining experience and a cozy spot to grab drinks on a chilly evening. It was the PERFECT Long Island Restaurant Week pick!

Upon walking in, Alex and I felt right at home. The sounds of Frank Sinatra and Michael Buble complimented the classic all American grill menu. I started with the Carrot Soup which was delectable! Served piping hot, the soup was creamy, but not too heavy and well seasoned. Alex selected the Mixed Greens Salad with pecans and craisins in a red wine vinaigrette dressing. He said it was delicious. I must say, I'm not a red wine vinaigrette fan, but this salad was truly tasty. The vinegar flavoring was not overwhelming as I often find.

For our entree, we both selected the Hanger Steak. The steak was juicy with a nice warm pink center. Topped with thin crispy onion straws, a delicious au jus and asparagus, we both agreed that the Hanger Steak at Brooks and Porter was a fabulous dish. Of course, as a Steakhouse junkie, have I indulged in a finer cut meat before? Yes. Nevertheless, I was very satisfied.

For dessert, Alex and I both selected Raspberry Sorbet which was refreshing, light, sweet, and served in a simple, yet fun presentation. It was a home run!

Overall, Brooks and Porter gets 4 out of 5 Mints on the Dinner Mint Scale. Brooks & Porter on Urbanspoon

Friday, November 4, 2011

Jake's Steakhouse - East Meadow

Jake's Steakhouse on Hempstead Turnpike in East Meadow calls itself a "Traditional American Steakhouse."
Lauren and I found it to be just that - traditional.

The place really doesn't try to be anything more than a simple, classy dining venue with a rather limited number of menu choices.
The decor features dark wood with light seat covers and a traditional table setting.
You'll start first with some traditional bread, which Lauren and I found to be a bit hard, accompanied by some regular butter.
If you're a person that will pay anything for the right atmosphere, your money would be better spent elsewhere.
Our overly attentive waiter seemed all too eager to take our dinner orders.
In fact the staff seems to like standing around waiting for someone to need them, which is great if you require a lot of service. In our case, we found it to be a bit annoying.
We started with a traditional Caesar salad, which they nicely split on two plates for us. It was good, but a bit heavy for my taste on the cheese and anchovy flavor.

For our main dishes, Lauren ordered Jumbo shrimp from the daily specials, and I ordered the Cedar Plank Roasted Salmon with mixed vegetables,mushrooms and broccoli rabe. Lauren's shrimp were certainly plump and she commented on the nice size portion, although it tasted "okay", she said it wasn't the best value for the price. Lauren was clearly disappointed.

My salmon came served on a wood "plank" type plate and Lauren and I both commented on the nice presentation. The salmon was seasoned and cooked well. I found it enjoyable. However, the mushrooms were salty for my liking and the vegetables tasted as if they had been soaked in butter.

Side Note: If you're a regular reader, you may wonder why we don't always sample each others food. We usually will, except when I order Salmon and Lauren orders shrimp.
We're both actually allergic to those specific fish!

We also wanted to comment on the valet parking situation at the East Meadow location.
It seems like a nice service, but when you see the size of the parking lot - you may be asking if it's really necessary to have someone parking the car for you. The lot is so close to the door. It was also a Thursday night, and not overly crowded.

All in all, we found ourselves wondering after the meal why the restaurant tried to be anything other than what it used to be - a pub. The conversion seemed minimal and as a steakhouse, left something to be desired. It was clearly WAY overpriced.

We give Jake's a 2 out of 5 mints on the dinner mint scale. Jake's Steakhouse on Urbanspoon