Review: Polo Steakhouse at the Garden City Hotel

The Sceneimg_20170226_140407

The building itself is only ’80s-old, but its history predates even the Gatsby era levels of grandeur. The service follows suit, as immediately apparent from the courteous complimentary valet under the portecochère that sheltered the doormanned entrance of this AAA Four Diamond hotel.

We walked in to a sparkling lobby where, immediately to our right, were the open door and smiling hostess and manager of Polo Steakhouse (once known as Rein). Having arrived a few minutes early, we literally peeked behind a billowing curtain to preview what was in store for us at Long Island’s answer to the Rainbow Room in New York City. Set up in a semi-partitioned space with tasteful decor, ornamental fireplaces, and streaming sunlight with stations set up strategically along the passageway, the layout belied the variety and quantity of choices on which to dine. The flow was such that despite the crowd, you didn’t feel crowded; despite the tremendous selection, you felt relaxed and not overwhelmed. img_20170226_141334

We’d also like to note that sharing lobby space with a semi-enclosed brunch spread can be challenging since bacon and its like tends to waft, but clean air circulated throughout the space and kept scents neutral–an impressive feat.

We were escorted through the tasteful Polo Lounge space, where a large bar was capped by large TVs and coffered ceilings. Stately in a country club smoking lounge kind of way, it was upscale without excess and very classy. img_20170226_115049From there, we were led past a second hosts’ stand to the main dining room, where rich reds and golds, leather trim and heavy oversized seating, and an ornate chandelier set in a tray ceiling set a tone of posh, masculine tradition befitting a high-end steakhouse. The setting was intimate and extremely luxurious, but again, in a discreet manner that makes one simply feel important just for being there without being able to state why.

And so we began.

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Review: Bistro Cassis

The Scene

Charmant. It’s the best and only way to describe the first impression of this Parisian nook in Huntington’s downtown area. From the red awning that pops from the sidewalk, marble-treated bistro tables, warm yellow walls, soft globe lighting, and retro French art on the walls, every detail is cozy and European-reminiscent.

Black aprons on the servers, mustard in jars with tiny spoons, cozy banquette or dark wooden chairs for seating, and a tiny but serviceable bar in a narrow space further added to an urban sophistication far more suited to Brooklyn than Long Island. An upscale but mixed group of diners–from families with children to groups celebrating occasions to friend-dates and real dates–also solidified the “not in Kansas anymore” city feel. Romantic, cozy, and traditional in a chic but not ironic way, the fact that the brunch menu included a mimosa or Bloody Mary, plus coffee or tea and starter pastries, put it on the fast track for a home run.
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Review: Pure North Fork

The Scene

Hidden inside the Great Rock Golf Club and in Wading River and not actually on the North Fork, it’s no wonder that this restaurant is up against odds when it comes to generating awareness of the venue. (There were only two other tables dining during our noon seating on this particular Sunday.) Driving through the gated entrance, it feels like a typical community development. A few seconds in and the restaurant signage points you left. Easy-peasey.

A spacious parking lot and short walk into the main building meant a speedier start to the brunch experience. A contemporary Hyatt-like decor (I took several pictures of the beautiful, modern setting that were unfortunately wiped out from my DSLR camera, and more’s the shame!) set a scene that was very stylishly New American, despite being a tad impersonal.

It took mere seconds to be seated at a lovely table flooded with natural sunlight and overlooking a meticulously groomed hole on the golf course, and not much longer to receive our menus and have water poured. And so it began.

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Chocolate Fountain

Review: Desmond’s at East Wind

The Scene

Miles of scenic farmland, growing ever more lush and green as the drive east continued, make a bucolic introduction to a stately, meticulously landscaped entry for one of the Island’s most popular wedding venues. A manor stood at the end of the drive, with elegant signs pointing the way to the restaurant, spa, garden house, and other venues. It was beautiful, but felt a bit lacking in soul; you could easily tell that this is a catering hall run by corporate heads, set to a formula of what is generally pleasing across the board…which is not necessarily a bad thing!

Desmond’s at East Wind was our destination, so we followed that sign to an ample parking lot that led toward the back of the big building, parked, and walked up to a grand double-door entrance, next to a sign for ice cream. The entrance foyer was similarly generically attractive in a slightly older (90s?), classic style, and the shiny wooden bar smacked of tradition.

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Plattdeutsche Park Biergarten Hall

Review: Plattdeutsche Park Restaurant

The Scene

We pulled up to a brick-facade house, nondescript and built in the generic style of so many other mass-produced homes of busy Long Island suburbs. The parking lot was a narrow one; I worried about having to back up into busy Hempstead Turnpike after being stuffed too full of pretzels, schnitzel, and eggs to twist my body around to see. We got out and walked in, slightly confused. It felt more like an apartment building in Queens than a restaurant, and looked nothing like the pictures I’d seen. The mystery was solved as we were directed out of the historic gathering hall and toward the back, where a gorgeous, timbered building stood in a massive biergarten space, complete with picnic tables, giant games, and a permanent food stand set-up that was closed on this sunny Sunday.

Walking into the main building, we were instantly struck by an impression of honeyed woods, rich golden tones lending warmth and light to a massive space with an equally massive bar that opened up into the biergarten grounds. It wasn’t hard to picture hundreds of dancers and revelers taking to the dance floor in front of the big stage at the opposite end of the bar, their faces lit by the soft glow of the oversized, pillar candle-style chandeliers that hung from the sky-high ceilings.

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Review: Honu Kitchen & Cocktails: Summer Brunch

The Scene

The sun was out, the top was down, and all I could hear were the birds as I drove indecisively around one of the municipal lots in Huntington, confounded by the luxury of choice in that usually crowded space. It was only a street crossing from where I parked to get to Honu, where huzzy and I were meeting my old mentor and his lovely lady friend for a leisurely work-/play brunch date. I was there to take pictures for my upcoming post for Edible Long Island’s web site, and to enjoy a meal at one of my favorite restaurants on the island with some of my favorite people on the island.

They were already seated in one of the squashy armchairs on the left of the entrance, waters in hand and drinks on order, and we greeted each other to the pleasant clinking of silver and glass of the alfresco diners to the right. The tall windows/doors on both sides were spread open in New York City style for an indoor/outdoor experience, with a rail to separate the sidewalk and people from the eating space and people-watchers. Continue reading