Monday, April 30, 2012

Park Place - Floral Park

Located on the border of Floral Park and Stewart Manor, Park Place is a charming little restaurant and bar. White lights and dark wood give this restaurant a cozy, yet elegant feel. The innovative menu is a delightful change of pace. Alex and I started with the Fried Kobe Meatballs served in a Teriyaki sauce with Spicy Mayo. They were absolutely delectable! What a unique and tasty appetizer!

For my entrée, I opted for the Whole Wheat Penne with Grilled Chicken, Sun Dried Tomato, Broccoli Rabe, Garlic & Oil. My dish was a nice size portion and presented quite well. It was a bit bland for my taste, but overall pretty good. Alex selected the Cavatelli Pasta With Hot Chopped Sausage, Mushrooms, and Cognac Cream Sauce. He remarked that the sauce was delightfully creamy, yet not too heavy and he thoroughly enjoyed the piping hot chopped sausage tossed in.

Some of the entrees we did not select, but I am already eager to go back and sample include Lobster Mac & Cheese, Tuna Tacos –Tartar and the Kobe Slider Trio.

Park Place receives a solid 3.5 Mints on the Dinner Mint Scale. Well done! Park Place Restaurant & Bar on Urbanspoon

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Jewel - Melville

When it comes to atmosphere, Jewel in Melville does everything right. From the second you first pull up to the valet parking and striking front entrance-way to the second you walk out the door to go home, you will be impressed by the dazzling environment.
Jewel is the brainchild of chef Tom Schaudel and clearly he paid close attention to detail with designing this place. The restaurant has a very modern, contemporary look and will make you feel like you've entered a hopping Manhattan spot.
Lauren and I were immediately struck by the large bar in the center of the restaurant. It features a light up floor that swells in and out like the ocean - and offers plenty of places to drink. You can sit in little chairs around the bar or lean on stand-up counter tops. It really is the perfect place to bring a date or grab drinks with co-workers after a long day at the office.
Lauren and I waited about 20 minutes for a table, which isn't bad considering it was a Wednesday of Restaurant week. But Lauren and I have become snobs since we usually never wait when we book with opentable, so we complained quietly to one another for a few minutes. We actually enjoyed ourselves in the spacious, comfortable waiting area and listened to the great live musicians playing. Shortly after we were taken to a nice table placed next to a giant glass wall. On the other side of the wall is the open kitchen where you can see the chefs hard at work preparing meals. Lauren and I liked the look of it. It makes you feel like you are in on the action and takes the mystery out of "the kitchen."
Our waiter went over the restaurant week specials and took our drink orders. I played it safe with a coke (I had to go to work shortly after dinner that evening) and Lauren had a glass of wine which she enjoyed very much. We were also delivered a full basket of fresh, hot and crispy rolls. Nice touch. There is olive oil on the table which makes for a great first appetizer. As part of our $25 Restaurant Week Prix Fix, we were both entitled to an appetizer. We both chose the "Almost Caesar Salad" which arrived at the table almost immediately after we ordered it.
Lauren and I agreed the salad was delicious and a good portion with Baby Romaine lettuce, Radicchio, and a Lemon-Anchovy Dressing.
For our meals - Lauren went with the Butternut Squash Lasagna with Basil, Romano, Bechamel, and Ameretti. Lauren said it was "good" and that she was "satisfied" but that nothing "wowed" her about it. She said she likely wouldn't order it again.
For my main course, I chose the Marinated Skirt Steak with Garlic Scented Creamed Spinach and Fingerling Potatoes. It was a nice size portion, came out hot, was cooked the way I asked, and was seasoned very well. It certainly filled me up and I enjoyed the flavor. The spinach and potatoes made for great side dishes and were both tasty.
For dessert - I had the Chocolate Flourless Cake with Salted Caramel and Whipped Cream. It was very small but surprisingly filling. Maybe it was because I ate my entire portion of meat. It left a nice sweet lasting impression in my mouth and the ended the night well.
Lauren opted for the Mixed Berry Cobbler with Chantilly Cream. We both thought it was good. Jewel is definitely a great atmosphere place. It's perfect for a night of drinks, reliable food and an impressive atmosphere. We give it a hearty and solid 4 out of 5 mints on the dinner mint scale.
Speaking of atmosphere - also worth noting is the men's bathroom. You really get a chance to see Chef Tom's humor come out here. The bathroom is elegant - but there is a giant black and white photo of paparazzi with cameras staring at you while you use the urinals. Every once in a while -- light bulbs on the wall start flashing (as if pictures are being taken) and you hear lots of noise come over the speaker system. Then, different voices yell funny things at you. (But I'll let what they say remain a mystery) I looked at the guy next to me in shock and he smiled and said: "Oh, you never saw this before?" I guess he was a regular! It made for a funny story when I met Lauren back at the table.
Jewel on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Jake's Wayback Burgers - East Meadow

The hype of Jake's Wayback Burgers opening in East Meadow is unfortunately just that - hype, and nothing more. While Alex and I commend Jake's Wayback Burgers for their variety of milkshakes and tasty selection of comforting sides, the burgers themselves left something to be desired.

Alex ordered a Burger with Fries and I opted for a Burger with the House Made Chips. I have also sampled the Onion Rings during a previous visit with another friend. We chose various toppings and different sauces as well. We both agreed that nothing "WOW-ed" us about this Hempstead Turnpike burger joint. While striving to obviously be a step above the McDonald's and Burger King category, Jake's Wayback Burgers fails at reaching the Cheeburger Cheeburger level of juiciness and variety. Upon my very first bite into the bun all I could think was "Wow, I really miss Fuddruckers right now." Remember those buns?!!

Perhaps in other parts of the county, Jake's Wayback Burgers hits a home run, but with burger joints like Cheeburger Cheeburger in Plainview, All American in Massapequa, Five Guys (Island-wide) and The Burger Spot in Garden City, Jake's Wayback Burgers is lucky to hit a ground ball and make it to first base.

Therefore, staying true to our Long Island audience and keeping your desires and standards in mind, Jake's Wayback Burgers receives 2.5 Mints on the Dinner Mint Scale.

Jake's Wayback Burgers on Urbanspoon

Monday, April 23, 2012

The Orient Restaurant - Hicksville

Nassau County "Dim Sum" fans are all a buzz with Fortune Wheel in Levittown as the hot spot for a great Dim Sum experience. Unfortunately, Alex and I woke up a tad late yesterday and decided to checkout Fortune Wheel at 11:40 a.m. (prime time!) The wait was insane! Lesson learned - MUST make reservations at Fortune Wheel.

Nevertheless, we refused to let go of our Dim Sum dining experience. Thus, we headed over to another packed Chinese restaurant just a town over in Behtpage called The Orient Restaurant. If you are a newbie to Dim Sum (like us) make sure to go with a group (4 or more). It's family style meets Chinese style dining. My friend Jess Chan (fitting) forewarned me of this. Lesson 2 -Lauren should listen more carefully to the young woman with the last name "Chan" when venturing out for Chinese.

As for the review... we sampled a meet dish, vegetable dish and seafood dish as we wanted to make sure to cover all the basics for you folks! All three were delicious! I especially enjoyed the shrimp roll. However, while the food lived up to expectations, the service did not. The restaurant was very loud (to be expected I suppose) and there was definitely miscommunication between the wait staff and the patrons. We left feeling very confused regarding what specific dishes we were sampling.

Additionally, we had to ask twice for Alex's coke and extra napkins. It was a bit frustrating. However, the people sitting near us who seemed to be regulars and thus, knew the dishes by heart, were extremely content and saying how much they love the restaurant. I must say, The Orient had a large variety of dishes to choose from and were efficient in carting them around table to table.

Overall, this Fortune Wheel rival restaurant receives 3.5 Mints on the Dinner Mint Scale. Orient on Urbanspoon

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Left Coast Kitchen and Cocktails - Merrick

It’s difficult to say anything negative about Left Coast Kitchen and Cocktails in Merrick. This is a MUST dine at venue, Long Islanders! Its casual atmosphere, reasonable prices, extensive beer and drink list and uniquely tasty menu makes Left Coast Kitchen and Cocktails the perfect spot for a Friday night dinner with friends or the family.

I have been there twice already and cannot WAIT to go back. The menu is so enticing. During my first experience at Left Coast with Alex, we started off with the Pacific Beach Wedge Salad with pico de gallo, bacon, and avocado. We substituted the blue cheese dressing for a ranch dressing. The combination of the pico de gallo, bacon, and avocado was AMAZING. It was definitely a nice size portion to split for two.

For entrees, I was so intrigued by the Root Beer Glazed Pork Chop, I just had to order it. Good thing I did so, because it did NOT disappoint. This juicy, double cut chop was served with harvest yam, a rice salad and crispy onion rings.

Alex opted for the Steak Frites – an angus strip served with truffle home fries, watercress with demi-glace and horseradish cream. He RAVED about it. Even I, who typically refuses to order any type of steak from a “non-steak house,” must admit it was well seasoned and good for the quality/price. Still, I'd probably stick to some of the other dishes over this one (sorry Alex, don't yell at me!)

In subsequent weeks, I returned with my extended family and thus, can proudly say I have sampled most of the menu. Here’s some fast MUST ORDER tips… The Buffalo Turkey Wings are MASSIVE and out of this world!
However, ask for extra blue cheese, they were pretty cheap on the initial portion. The Baja Style Mahi Mahi Tacos are a great appetizer to split.
For dessert, you cannot leave without ordering the Tower of Power! – A larger tower of everything from cupcakes, brownies and cookies galore! It's a GREAT bang for your buck!

Ok, so there must be a few critiques, right? Parking is ROUGH. You definitely have to use their valet service, which is a bit frustrating. Furthermore, the restaurant is tiny, so be certain to make a reservation to play it safe. Left Coast Kitchen is unfortunately not on Opentable (they really need to be). Service was pretty good, but I’ve had a better… Especially my waitress with Alex, she could have checked in a few more times. My mom and aunt both ordered the Classic Lobster Roll, which is highlighted on the menu. However, they both agreed that it pales in comparison to Love Lane Kitchen's Lobster Roll, which is located on Love Lane in Mattituck. Overall, Left Coast Kitchen and Cocktails receives a solid 4.5 out of 5 Mints on the Dinner Mint Scale.
Left Coast Kitchen & Cocktails on Urbanspoon

Friday, April 20, 2012

Black & Blue - Huntington

Black and Blue on Wall Street in Huntington categorizes itself as a "Seafood Chophouse."
The menu isn't huge - but the tastes will cater to almost everyone in your party.
Lauren and I went on a weekend night with our friends John and Maria.
The restaurant is very dark looking which really intrigued us all. It's also located on Wall Street on the outskirts of the area known as "Huntington Village," so it can be easily passed by.

John made a reservation and we were seated almost immediately. This restaurant had several people greeting us at the front reservation counter which is understandable for a Saturday night. All were very friendly and polite. The restaurant was packed which is also always a good sign.

We were seated at a table right in the center of the main room of the restaurant.
It was a bit tight but not uncomfortable. Soft music plays in the background and the ambiance is fittingly a dark black and blue. Also to be noted is a large fish tank displaying some colorful and energetic fish.
This made for a nice conversation piece and created a calming feeling, which we all commented on.
The four of us ordered wine and our friendly waitress brought the glasses quickly.
The beverage selection is quite large and we all enjoyed the wines we ordered.
We decided to start with an appetizer of Crispy Thai Style Calamari with Scallions,Cilantro,Peanuts and Sweet Red Chile. It was delicious and we gobbled it up right away. It had just the right amount of spice, so we were all able to enjoy it. Definitely one of the most flavorful and tasty calamari dishes I have ever had.
(My mouth is watering thinking back to it right now!)

The restaurant is a bit pricey, especially at dinner time and we were all looking forward to the Prix Fixe menu. We didn't realize it was only available on Friday and Saturday night until 6:30.
But to the restaurant's credit - we were all able to order A La Carte without spending a fortune. Plus, the meals are fresh and unique and really worth what you pay.

I ordered the Skirt Steak with Whipped Potatoes, Julienne Vegetables, topped with a Bourbon BBQ sauce. It was extremely tasty and came out cooked exactly the way I had asked - medium well. It was a moist cut of meat and the BBQ sauce added a tangy flavor that really complimented the meat.

Lauren ordered the Cornflake Crusted Frenched Chicken with Whole Grain Mustard Risotto,Shaved Fennel,Roasted Peppers,Arugula and Natural Jus. She found the meal to be unique and delicious.

John had the Pan Roasted Chilean Sea Bass, Shrimp Cous Cous, Wilted Spinach in a Tomato Broth. He said it was different and very good and commented on really liking the cut of fish he got.

Maria had the Twin Pork Chops with Glazed Carrots and Grilled Apples in a Roasted Shallot Demi Glace. She also raved about her meal. Not one of us was displeased with what we had ordered.

The menu really does have some very interesting other choices. To be noted - Mac & Cheese served traditional or with Duck or Lobster. Also - a Butternut Squash Ravioli served with Sage Brown Butter and topped with Dried Cranberries. Definitely tastes to make your mouth water.

We all found the value to be worth the price you pay. They also have live music every Wednesday through Saturday. The bar is a lively scene too which would really make for a nice weekend outing.

Overall we agreed Black and Blue is an impressive 4.5 out of 5 mints on the dinner mint scale. We're sure to be back soon! Black & Blue Chophouse on Urbanspoon

Seasons 52 at Roosevelt Field

The newly opened Seasons 52 at Roosevelt Field in Garden City is a wonderful dining experience. From the second Lauren and I sat down to the minute we left, we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.

The decor is dark wood with contemporary art and will make you feel as though you have entered an upscale hotel. We both loved the elegant fountain that can be seen when first walking in.
As if they had just been trained, which they probably were since this particular location is only about 4 weeks old, we were greeted to big smiles from about 4 staff people.
We booked on Opentable, a dining reservation service, which helped get us seated immediately. (We overheard them tell the people next to us with NO reservation that the wait would be about 45 minutes for 2 people.)

We were taken to a smaller room with only about 8 tables.
Each table was set with logo wine glasses, napkins and silverware and a candle.
Lauren and I both liked that although we were in a private room - the wall in front of us had cut-outs so we could see into the bar area and rest of the restaurant.
It was also a bit quieter in our room which we both enjoyed.
The table was comfortable and we were greeted quickly by an upbeat server named Allison.

Allison really took her time welcoming us, then she went over the drink and dinner specials and made sure to explain that everything on the menu is 475 calories or less. (Something that impressed Lauren and I since we have never dined at this chain)
Allison also told us the signature flatbreads were a good way to start - so we decided to take her up on it and order one.

We went with the Garlic Chicken Flatbread which was served on a flaky crust with Mozzarella cheese,balsamic onions and roasted red peppers. It was hot, light and delicious.

For drinks, Lauren ordered a Strawberry-Coconut Skinny Martini and I ordered an Organic Sunshine Martini.
We could tell they were both low calorie drinks - but they were still delicious, and proceeded to make us delightfully dizzy.

Our meals were both very enjoyable and tasty.

I ordered the Cedar Plank Roasted Salmon - which actually cooks on a cedar plank and is served that way. It came with asparagus, Roasted herb potatoes and carrots.
Everything was cooked to perfection and arrived to the table hot. The salmon was particularly moist, juicy and flavorful.
Lauren had the Grilled Tiger Shrimp Penne Pasta which came with vegetables in a light lemon-basil sauce. She also said the meal was cooked beautifully and was also very flavorful.

The portions were reasonable and we both commented on how we felt perfectly full.
Definitely not overstuffed - even with the drinks and appetizer.

When Allison, who was very attentive to us throughout the meal, came back with a dessert sampler - we couldn't resist. The servers actually bring a rack of what they call "Mini Indulgences," to the table. In keeping with the restaurant's low calorie theme - these are desserts served in an over-sized shot glass. After Allison explained each one carefully our mouths were watering. I had the Key Lime Pie and Belgian Chocolate Rocky Road, and Lauren went for the Carrot cake inspired one.

I was shocked when Allison took the dessert right from the rack and gave them to us. She explained that they constantly refill them so they can give you the exact one you look at. I thought it was a sample platter of fake desserts like many restaurants have. I almost wanted to tell Allison to just leave the entire rack! (Which I'm sure other people do.)

The Seasons 52 was also very reasonably priced for the food, drinks and atmosphere you get. Lauren and I both left very satisfied and decided to give Seasons 52 a 4.5 dinner mints out of 5 on our dinner mint scale.

And in case you were wondering, because we were, the restaurant is called Seasons 52 because the menu changes seasonally. According to the restaurants nicely designed website - Specials and new market inspirations change 52 weeks a year.
There you go.

Seasons 52 on Urbanspoon