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July 2nd, 2013
Monday, June 3rd marked the night of the third annual Long Island Hospitality Ball. The gala held at the Crest Hollow Country Club in Woodbury is a showcase event for the hospitality industry, featuring the best food, drink and entertainment for guests. The best part is the cause behind the ball; it is a benefit for the American Cancer society.
Keith Hart first organized the Long Island Hospitality Ball in 2011. Hart, a hospitality industry mainstay, is a cancer survivor himself. His own private battle inspired him to make it a very public mission for all to join the fight against cancer. Over the years the LIHB has raised thousands of dollars that have been donated to the American Cancer Society.
Although the weather seemed doubtful with an early evening sprinkle, it turned out to be a beautiful night. With about 3,000 guests roaming the patio, a few vendors shined through.
Kyma of Roslyn offered guests their signature appetizer; sushi grade Mediterranean grilled octopus with onions, capers, EVOO and red wine vinegar. The octopus itself was extremely fresh and perfectly prepared, married well with all flavors in the dish.
Matteo’s Ristorante of Huntington brought one of their healthy options to sample; zucchini linguini. You would never think that replacing pasta with a vegetable would be satisfying, but this was more than just that. The fresh and thinly sliced zucchini served with marinara brought taste buds to life.
With an A-list reputation Insignia brought along some of their A-list sushi. Guests drooled over their Geisha Roll , made with yellowtail, salmon, crab, avocado, tobiko and cucumber naruto.
What’s a gala without a cocktail? The wine and spirits industry was well represented with drinks to try everywhere you turned. Rodney Strong was pouring their 2012 Charlotte’s Home Estate Sauvignon Blanc, light and crisp with peach, tangerine and pineapple character.
Beyond all the incredible food and drinks, three industry buffs were honored; E. Lloyd Sobel, CEO and President of Empire Merchants, Anthony Scotto and Victor Scotto of Scotto Brothers Enterprises and Reynold Leone, owner of Zachary’s Nightclub.
Lloyd Sobel began his career in the industry in 1978 as a market research analyst. After years of experience Sobel moved through the ranks to become the President of Charmer Industries, Metro New York and led the merger of Charmer and Peerless Importers, forming Empire Merchants. Supporting charities is one of his greatest passions, in addition to the American Cancer Society Lloyd also supports AHRC and the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
The Scotto Brothers have made a strong name for themselves on Long Island. After coming to the US in the 1970’s from Italy, the brothers have worked their way to the top of the industry. They are considered to have set the standard for quality and service, and are proud owners of The Fox Hollow, The Inn at Fox Hollow and Chateau Briand. Anthony Scotto owns three of Long Island’s top steakhouses: RARE650, Blackstone Steakhouse and Insignia Steakhouse.
Rennie Leone has done it all. He currently is the President, CE Manager, Promoter, Official Greeter and Chief Cook and bottle washer of Zachary’s Lounge. For over the past fifty years he has owned and operated twenty nightclubs, restaurants, jazz clubs, lounges, rock joints and live entertainment venues, and has worked every aspect of the industry. As he is still active in the day-to-day operation, outside of the Lounge he can be found on the golf course.
The most extravagant of all events would not be complete without a firework show, right? Guests were dazzled at 9 o’clock with a show, a perfect break for all before continuing the party.
The 2013 Long Island Hospitality Ball was yet another success. Keith Hart and all the teams involved continue to outdo themselves every year. The anticipation of next year’s event is already building to see what they have in store.
May 31st, 2013
By Rachel Bosworth
With summer practically here, we’re eager to be outdoors day and night whether it be a trip to the beach or an exclusive outdoor dinner party in the Hamptons. There are several East End events all crowds can enjoy this summer, and we’re hungry just thinking about it.
Chefs Bobbly Flay and Alex Guarnaschelli have been announced as the hosts of Dan’s Taste of Two Forks this year, which will be held on July 12 at Sayre Park in Bridgehampton. For $155 per ticket, guests may enjoy unlimited offerings from both North and South Fork restaurants, wineries and purveyors. Participants will include Fresh, a new restaurant by Todd Jacobs in Bridgehampton, Gerry Hayden’s North Fork Table & Inn, LIEB Cellars, Sherwood House Vineyards, Joe and Liza’s Ice Cream and Amagansett Sea Salt, just to name a few. Tickets may be purchased online here.
The James Beard Foundation will set up enormous wine tents on the grounds of Wolffer Estate Vineyards in Bridgehampton for Chefs & Champagne New York on July 20. For any foodie in-the-know, this event celebrates the achievements of the nation’s top chefs, restaurateurs, personalities and hosts. This year, the James Beard Foundation will be honoring Andrew Zimmern, host of the Travel Channel’s Bizzare Foods. Tickets for this event start at $275 per person.
The following weekend the Chef’s Dinner, benefitting Hayground School’s Jeff’s Kitchen and The Jeff Salaway Scholarship Fund, will take place on Sunday July 28 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. for the cocktail party and 7:30 to 10 p.m. for dinner. The annual event is a tribute to the late Jeff Salaway, a widely respected and beloved restaurateur and one of the school’s co-founders. Since it’s inception, this event has raised over $1,000,000 for Jeff’s Kitchen and the Jeff Salaway Scholarship Fund. Top chefs in the region will be at the event along with wine and liquor producers. Tickets for the cocktail party are $175 per person while tickets for the very intimate dinner party are $1,000. Children may attend the event as well for $40 per ticket.
There is one more summer event we love and that is appropriate for children and adults alike. This is the Edible East End’s Great Food Trucky Derby held on Friday, August 9. Food trucks from Manhattan to Montauk converge at the Hayground School in Bridgehampton for an early evening of ethnic and local mobile eats along with regional wine and craft beer. More than 20 trucks will be in attendance including Montaco, Mexicue, Silver Spoon Specialties and Coolhaus. The cost is $60 per person and includes one serving at every food truck and complimentary beverages.
There will be plenty to eat in the Hamptons this summer and we’ve got our forks ready. Whether enjoying a casual day tasting the creative selections from some of the best food trucks or enjoying a very intimate dinner honoring the notable Jeff Salaway, we’ll be full all season long.
May 1st, 2013
By Rachel Bosworth
Traditional American holidays are often observed by school closures, three-day weekends and a dinner that usually consists of a roasted turkey. Calendars are routinely marked with smiley faces for the days we don’t have to go to work. But what about all of those other hundreds of days in the year?
Luckily for us foodies, holidays have evolved and found a way into our everyday lives. These extra special days are known as “Food Holidays”. Almost every day of the year now celebrates a specific dish, beverage, style and even diet. Since these days are too often overlooked, here are a few suggestions as to which days to celebrate and where. Let the gluttony begin!
Thursday, May 9 marks the nation’s day to celebrate shrimp. We know Bubba from Forrest Gump would appreciate this. Stony Brook’s Mirabelle Tavern recently introduced a shrimp appetizer with spicy mango chutney and chive-scented oil. The combination of spice and the sweetness of the mango balance the dish nicely and it is sure to become a favorite among guests.
Those with a sweet tooth will enjoy Monday, May 13 with the all American dessert- apple pie. When it comes to pie, Briermere Farms cannot be beat. The seasonal farm stand on the North Fork bakes its famous fresh pies from scratch daily using their homegrown fresh fruit. The lines are worth the wait for a fresh, warm pie.
There is no better place in the Hamptons to celebrate barbecue day than Townline BBQ in Sagaponack. On the 16th, visit this spot for a selection of house smoked meats with all the fixings and belly-filling sides. The selection of cocktails, served in Mason jars, are pretty killer too.<br><br>
Say Oui! on May 24 for National Escargot Day. When prepared properly, the French delicacy is quite enjoyable. Speaking of well prepared, Sage Bistro Moderne of Woodbury serves the tasty treat with a traditional garlic herb butter sauce. Enjoy with a nice glass of Sancere and your palate will be satisfied.
May 29 is National Brown-Bag-It Day. How boring. We do not support this holiday, not even a little bit. It is also National Wine Day. We can definitely get behind that one.
While you most likely will not be inviting family over or exchanging gifts, you can still find joy in the opportunities to celebrate food. Whether you visit your favorite local restaurant or take a trip a few towns over, there is much to be enjoyed everywhere on Long Island. So stuff your face and have a happy Chocolate Mousse Day!
April 2nd, 2013
By Rachel Bosworth
With the first rays of sunshine and the gradual rise of the thermometer, people are ready to be outdoors. One of the first signs that spring has arrived is al fresco dining. Everyone loves dining in the fresh air under the warmth of the sun, or even a heat lamp. It seems the good weather may be here to stay and there are plenty of Long Island restaurants who have tables and chairs on the sidewalk waiting for you.
Many restaurants from the border of the city to the East End offer guests the opportunity to enjoy their meals outside. Besito in Roslyn will serve their famous tableside guacamole outdoors on a semi-concealed sidewalk. Lush plants surround the outdoor dining area to provide some privacy while customers delve into the hearty blend of avocado and spices.
The warm glow of a fire and smell of the burning embers are inviting whether you are having a bonfire on the beach or sipping on a cocktail at your favorite bar. Maxwell’s, in the heart of Islip, recently expanded to double its original size. The renovation includes a new 45-seat outdoor dining area complete with fire pits for cool summer nights. The casual dining spot allows guests to enjoy creative cocktails and craft beers in a relaxed atmosphere. The fire pits are sure to be crowded even on the warmer summer evenings.
In the summer nothing beats waterfront dining. Scenic views and cool ocean breezes are instantly calming and allow for guests to truly enjoy their meals and beverages. Navy Beach in Montauk is the epitome of outdoor dining. In addition to indoor seating, the restaurant has tables and chairs right on the beach. A popular hotspot during the Hamptons summer scene, Navy Beach serves a variety of local seafood fare and variety of refreshing cocktails. The restaurant is set to reopen for the season at the end of April and will be packed with locals and city dwellers making a weekend getaway.
Al fresco dining is the heart of summer on Long Island. Whether you can escape to the beach or visit the buzzing side of town, dining outdoors in the warm sunshine is hard to beat. So grab your sunblock (or tanning oil) and get ready to enjoy Long Island’s culinary scene beginning now!
February 28th, 2013
By Heather Girgenti
By now, most people have taken note of the small plates trend that has emerged in restaurants everywhere and have developed their own opinion of it. But whether or not people actually understand the benefits of a small plates menu for both diners and the restaurant business, is another story.
Small plates are lower priced, smaller portioned dishes that resemble a tasting menu of sorts. The concept actually derived from “tapas,” an integral part of Spanish culture. Tapas encourage people to visit multiple restaurants and taste multiple dishes, in one night.
In cities across Spain, “ir de tapas” (go for tapas) is a weekly pastime. Diners start at one tapas bar, have a drink and a couple “pinchos” or small plates and then move on to a few more. If you were to visit five tapas bars and order two tapas and one drink at each place, chances are you’d end up spending less than you would on one entrée at a regular restaurant.
American restaurants that are adopting small plates aren’t necessarily encouraging these brief visits, and the prices certainly aren’t as cheap as authentic tapas in Spain, but they are encouraging people to get a taste of several menu items rather than just one.
Noah’s in Greenport gives diners the option of small plates or full plates. Each time my Aunt and I go there together however, we always end up deciding on several small plates to share. More variety is more fun and you can get a better feel for the chef’s style when you try a few of his or her dishes.
With small plates, consumers have an in-between option. They can ditch the kitchen and dine out without having to spend a lot of money on a big meal. The Spanish tradition of a less formal, more social & communal dining experience is becoming quite popular among American restaurant-goers.
Surprisingly, the concept benefits restaurateurs at the same time. Small plates are an opportunity to boost food sales during busy after-work cocktail hours or later hours on weekends. Also, bar establishments can segway into the food business without an overwhelming level of commitment. Less commitment means more room for variety and creativity because small plates menus can change more frequently than a regular menu.
A small plates menu benefits restaurants with strong wine lists because a diner can pair various glasses of wine with one meal made of up a few different flavored small plates. Perhaps you’ll start with a red meat small plate and a glass of Chianti and move on to a seafood small plate with a classic chardonnay. The possibilities are endless. At Barrique Kitchen and Wine Bar in Babylon, a small plates tasting is offered and each dish is paired with a small taste of wine. You can leave it to the experts to create a unique dining experience for you, or choose your own wines and discover pairings that meet your preferences.
The trend has also materialized at a sort of revolutionary time for diet and nutrition in the United States. Recently, there seems to be changes occurring in regards to the way people think about health and consumption. A big part of this education involves portions and the question of “how much is enough?” That’s why it is smart for Italian restaurants like VERO Italian Kitchen & Lounge in Amityville, to offer tapas-style options as communal dining is also popular in Italian culture. Italian restaurants are typically known for large, rich portions of meat and pasta. While VERO has not surrendered those dishes, they do offer a selection of small plates, which means they aren’t excluding those who prefer a lighter option.
Of course, there are those who see small plates as a trick – small portions for a high price, why would anyone fall for that ploy? To them I say, because variety is the spice of life!
January 31st, 2013
By Rachel Bosworth
Imagine being invited to a small and intimate dinner party in the downstairs vault of a bank. Words that come to mind may include exclusive, elaborate and fancy. Well, a couple of years ago an old bank in downtown Riverhead had been transformed into one of the East End’s most unique and inviting restaurants: The Riverhead Project. The restaurant recently started a wine dinner series in the downstairs private dining area known as “The Vault,” complete security deposit boxes, large safes and a heavy metal door with spinning locks. On Sunday, January 27, a dinner featuring Vidalco wines were paired with four courses created by the talented Executive Chef Greg Ling. Those in attendance enjoyed plenty of wine, food and even made some new friends.
Photo Credit: Vidalco Wine Distributors
Prior to the dinner, guests gathered in the downstairs lounge to enjoy hors d’ouevres and a glass of 2010 Chateau Ste. Roseline Perle de Roseline Rose. The wine was dry and delicious and complemented the appetizers well. A particular favorite were the broiled oysters with shishito peppers and bacon. Owner Matt Helmsteadt of Vidalco gave a casual introduction to the evening and then the fun began.
For the first course we were served stir fried lobster with eggpalnt salad and sambal belacan with blis-red boat bourbon barrel aged nuac mam. The plump lobster was served in the shell and cut into three pieces. It was quite delicious and the citrus offered a slight sweetness. The dish was served with the 2010 Cuvee Lamp de Meduse Blanc. The wine provided a nice acidity that cut the sweetness of the eggplant salad.
The second course was a personal favorite of mine. Ragu of rabbit with North Fork mushrooms, semolina pappardelle, house cured olives and rosemary grilled snails. The rabbit was plentiful and tender with a bit of a kick to it. There was just enough of the perfectly cooked pasta with a few olives so that each element didn’t distract from the other. These were not your typical garlic and lemon smothered snails, a rosemary stem served as a skewer, making the presentation alone very inviting, and added a pleasant herbal flavor. The wine served with the rabbit was also my favorite of the night. It was the 2009 Antica Cantina de Lodole Grecale, a medium bodied wine with a smooth finish. The food and wine in this course made the perfect pairing.
Up next we were served venison grilled over pine with leek, chocolate chevre, chard in brik and sunchoke puree. The venison was served rare and tender, not very gamy at all, the chocolate chevre provided an interesting twist. This dish was served with Tacama Vineyard’s 2008 Quantum Petit Verdot. The wine was more full bodied with notes of dark fruits and an herbal finish.
Photo Credit: Vidalco Wine Distributors
And then came dessert. We were presented with roasted pear bread pudding with vanilla gelato and walnut. This was paired with the 2010 Antica Cantina de Lodole Moscato d’Asti. While it is only fitting to pair dessert with a sweeter wine, it was a bit too sweet for me. That however is a personal preference and the rest of the party seemed to enjoy it. The bread pudding was delicious and unbelievably light. It was a wonderful finish to the evening.
As usual, dinner at The Riverhead Project was a hit and all of the diners left happy and full. The next two dinners in the series will be held on February 10 with Lieb Cellars and on February 24 with Bedell Cellars. The event cost is $85 per person and is limited to 20 people. Menus change weekly. Contact The Riverhead Project at (631) 284-9300 for more information.
January 2nd, 2013
“He was a wise man who invented beer.” –Plato
For years now restaurants across Long Island have been hosting wine pairing dinners showcasing signature dishes and their ability to pair with wines both local and imported. But what about the Long Island foodie who is looking something a little different? Blackwells Restaurant at Great Rock has a solution: the beer dinner. Special food and beer pairings are becoming more and more popular and this Wading River restaurant was quick to follow suit.
On Wednesday, December 19, 2012, Blackwells hosted a four-course holiday pairing dinner where guests were able to choose whether to pair the dishes with Goose Island Craft Beer from Chicago or various wines. Most chose the beer, and what a tasty decision that was.
For the first course, Executive Chef Chris Gerdes plated smoked local bay scallops over Satur Farms mixed greens with a light drizzle of cider vinaigrette. The salad was a great start to the meal with a healthy serving of scallops and just enough dressing as to not overwhelm the greens. The dish was paired with the Goose Island “Sofie,” a Belgian style farmhouse ale that is light and pairs well with various types of shellfish. This beer was a good choice and complemented the salad quite well.
To warm us up a bit, we were presented with a cream of Brie soup with Parmesan croutons. Many were pleasantly surprised with the cheese -based soup not only because it was made with Brie, but also it was light and not overly creamy. This course was paired with the “Matilda”. This beer is a Belgian style pale ale that boasts a slightly fruity aroma and pairs well with many foods. Many people may associate a cheese such as Brie with fruits, making this pairing a perfect one.
The next course was much heartier than the first two and almost difficult to finish. The entrée was applewood smoked bacon wrapped filet mignon au poivre with cheddar mashed potatoes and balsamic broccolini. While the steak was good, it was lacking in the au poivre sauce, which was hardly noticeable. The bacon did provide a welcomed smoky flavor to the dish. The potatoes were more whole than mashed, but very tasty with the cheese. The dish was perfectly paired with Goose Island’s “Pepe Nero”. This beer was the darkest among all we tasted and is ideal for pairing with grilled meats and roasted vegetables. So far, each beer was perfectly paired with each dish.
A hot chocolate torte was next to finish off our meal. By “hot,” Blackwells meant “spicy”. Wow, was that good. The blend of chocolate and spice was unique and just a great combination overall. A scoop of vanilla ice cream accompanied the torte to help guests “cool off” a bit. Traditionally diners may enjoy a port wine with their dessert, but the “Pere Jaques” proved to be a wonderful alternative. The flavors of this beer pair well with bittersweet chocolate and spicy flavors like curries.
While there were wines available for each course, the beer was the star of this dinner. Many guests had been to these pairing dinners before at Blackwells and were just as an enthusiastic about this one. The atmosphere was fun yet educational. Hey, who knew beer was so classy?
December 3rd, 2012
The Seventh Annual Fall Long Island Restaurant Week proved to be a great success this year. November was a difficult month for Long Islanders. Hurricane Sandy hit hard leaving many without power for weeks and even forcing them out of their homes. Then there were was the gas shortage crisis that lasted over a week and resulted in lines lasting well over an hour just to fill up. What Long Islanders needed now was an escape, no matter how brief. Long Island Restaurant Week seemed to do the trick.
The eight-day promotion ran from Sunday, November 4 to Sunday, November 11 with 248 restaurants across the Island participating. 134 of those restaurants extended the promotion until Sunday, November 18 as result of Hurricane Sandy. Participants offered their own unique three-course prix fixe menus for $24.95, which resulted in packed restaurants from Floral Park to Montauk.
The crew at Long Island Restaurant News decided they too would join the masses and take advantage of this great deal. The Plaza Café in Southampton was the destination for Tuesday, November 6 for the crowd of ten. And what a great choice it was.
The Plaza Café offered their regular weekly prix fixe menu, normally $34, for restaurant week. The menu featured the Long Island seafood chowder, organic field greens and prosciutto wrapped wild Pacific shrimp to start. The latter was a hit among our group of diners. Large shrimp were wrapped with a crispy prosciutto and arranged on top of a perfectly cooked porcini risotto. The white truffle oil added a nice flavor to the dish without being overbearing. The chowder was also good and full of local clams, mussels and cod.
Entrees featured horseradish crusted local cod, sliced flat iron steak, herb marinated free-range chicken and penne Bolognese.
Local seafood is always desirable among Long Islanders. The horseradish crusted local cod was served roast garlic mashed potatoes, crispy leeks and chive oil. Each bite had a nice crunch to it. The crispy leeks with the roast garlic mashed potatoes were a little overwhelming with the horseradish, but tasty nonetheless. The sliced flat iron was well received and served beside potato-spinach hash with crispy shallots and dressed in a red wine sauce. The steak was cooked to the diner’s choice perfectly and was a generous portion size.
To finish off the meal, diners had a choice of chocolate-vanilla torte, apple-pecan cake and classic crème brulee. While we were all stuffed, we had to at least taste dessert. The crème brulee was indeed classic and what one would expect from crème brulee. The apple-pecan cake is one of The Plaza Café’s signature desserts served with house-churned vanilla ice cream, caramel sauce and apple chip on top. The cake was dense yet very moist. It was a favorite for sure but definitely very filling. It was difficult to finish for those that did.
Our group was not the only one their on that Tuesday evening. The dining room stayed pretty busy throughout the night and the other diners seemed to be enjoying themselves. The staff was attentive without being overbearing and worked effectively as a team.
Long Island Restaurant Week attained impressive numbers despite the down economy. Participating restaurants served an estimated total of 185,600 meals. Long Island Restaurant Week also recognized the need to help those unable to participate as diners in this event and made donations to Interfaith Nutrition Network and Family Service League.
We are now looking forward to Spring Long Island Restaurant Week which is scheduled for April 28 through May 5, 2013.
November 2nd, 2012
Autumn on Long Island brings many events we all look forward to; pumpkin picking, the harvest season, wine tasting, Halloween, Thanksgiving and more. There is one event which brings joy to all for eight amazing nights. Of course we are talking about Long Island Restaurant Week!
From Sunday, November 4 to Sunday, November 11, diners may enjoy a three-couse prix fixe menu for $24.95 at some of your favorite Long Island restaurants. We are happy to announce that this special promotion is still on despite our visit from Hurricane Sandy!
At Long Island Restaurant News, we have been lucky enough to review some of this year’s participants and are looking forward to going back! Below is the list of restaurants and some of the highlights we have enjoyed in the past.
Cedar Creek American Bar and Grill in Glen Cove received two plates for “comfort food with a kick” and “an upscale presentation without pretension”. Read the Review
REIN at the Garden City Hotel offers the “elegance of fine dining without the stuffiness.” This restaurant received three plates for excellent food and atmosphere. Read the Review
Aperitif Bistro Lounge Wine Bar “has a skilled chef who has deftly added his signature to French classics, particularly with Asian influences.” See why this restaurant earned 3 plates here. Read the Review
Blackwells at Great Rock “may look like a formal country club, but the atmosphere and staff couldn’t be more welcoming and warm.” The restaurant, located in Wading River, scored 3 plates. Read the Review
Huntington Social received 3 plates “because the scene, vibe, and setting is fun and different, I’m going to follow suit and start my review with the dessert because it was that fabulous. Read the Review
George Martin’s Strip Steak in Great River scored 3 plates for turning our steak-fearing reviewer into a fanatic as “Strip Steak hits the bull’s eye.” Read the Review
Ragazzi Italian Kitchen & Bar “retains the integrity of an old world Italian dinner and the friendly vibe of their dining room matches the warmth you’d find in a family kitchen.” This Italian restaurant received 3 plates. Read the Review
Vittorio’s Restaurant and Wine Bar received an outstanding 4 plates for “it’s all-out fabulous food with an endearing appeal. Delicious dishes, stellar service and an inviting ambiance”. Read the Review
Mirabelle Restaurant earned 4 plates for “innovative French/American cuisine using the freshest and finest local ingredients.” Read the Review
Almond in Brideghampton landed 3 ½ plates for everything from “Eric’s professionalism and enthusiasm to Jason Weiner’s bold and flavorful food.” Read the Review
Osteria Salina in Bridgehampton received 3 plates for having the “authentic feel of a truly Italian restaurant, warm and welcoming with delicious food prepared with fresh and simple ingredients.” Read the Review
The rating system for Long Island Restaurant News reviews is below. The full list of this year’s participants are available on at www.longislandrestaurantweek.com. We are looking forward to checking out new (and old) favorites this year!
October 1st, 2012
A revolution has been sweeping across the culinary nation as more and more restaurants explore new techniques and push the boundaries of the food scene. Roots Bistro Gourmand of West Islip is a restaurant that infuses the simplicity of a modest French bistro with gastronomic techniques trending across the globe.
We decided to go experience this phenomenon in late September for the opening of this new restaurant. Executive Chef Philippe Corbet and Chef James Orlandi have created a menu inspired by local ingredients and global flavors. Their efforts were deliciously appreciated.
The New York Strip Steak Tartare with pickled cucumbers, whole grain mustard, tabasco, capers, cornichons, shallots, mayonnaise and crispy fires was a crowd pleaser for sure. The knife work on the steak was impeccable and the mix of ingredients that coated it were extremely well balanced. The layer of pickled cucumbers added the right amount of citrus and the crispy fries added texture and crunch that gave a nice finish to the dish. This generously sized dish is already priced well at $14.
Risotto Lollipop was a favorite among the crew. Three lollipops of raclette cheese, lemon beurre blanc, cherry tomato dust and balsamic glaze were served on a dark slate that added to the presentation without taking away from the ease of eating the dish. It was steaming hot and the outer crust was extremely crispy. The lemon beurre blanc and cherry tomato dust elevated the complexity of what is usually a simple dish allowing it to stand miles above renditions served in other restaurants.
While appetizers seem to be the favorite course among diners, the entree´s stood out on the table as well. Garden Inspired Ravioli with English peas, lava beans, coconut-mint veloute´ and crispy lamb confit was a perfectly prepared dish. The lamb confit was nothing short of heavenly and the ravioli itself tasty and cooked to the proper firmness while the peas and fava beans were allowed to shine.
A true test of a chef’s culinary skill comes when a diner announces he or she is vegan. The staff was more than accommodating and was able to create a dish on the spot that was not only vegan, but very satisfying as well. The quart of mushrooms and corn were buttery (without actual butter of course) and the fresh herbs added flavor. The accompanying vegetables were hearty, well seasoned and also presented beautifully.
Now for dessert. The Pop Rock was original, creative and a bit whimsical. The dish was comprised of coconut ice cream, toasted coconut, macerated strawberries, candied mint, pop rocks and cre´me. All of the elements in the dish felt purposeful and allowed the dish to be out-of-the-box without being over-the-top. Our fears that the pop rocks would bring an overly candied and pedestrian flavor to the dessert were put at ease with a single bite.
The Honey Toast was a creative dish of Mille Feuille with “cre´me brulee” custard, lavendar peaches, honey ice cream and whipped cream. While creativity is appreciated, the execution was not functional. The dish was served on a slate which caused the ice cream to melt off onto the table. The layered dessert itself was also very hard to cut through and eat. While we enjoyed the flavor of the cre´me brulee custard, we wished there had been more of it.
The de´cor of the restaurant perfectly fit in with the overall tone. The tin ceiling sets the tone for the bistro-barn style that mixes vintage reclaimed wood flooring with a modern zinc bar. The duality combines with elements inspired by nature, such as the living wall, to create a simple yet, stunning ambiance.
Our overall experience at Roots Bistro Gourmand was one the remember. We have confidence this restaurant will continue to exceed culinary expectations and leave all of their guests full yet eager for more.