Category Archives: Restaurant Review

RETURN TO THE BASIL CAFE

The Basil Café in St. James, New York is a tiny little restaurant hidden always among trees and shrubbery that surround it. If you didn’t know it was there, you would drive right by it, and that would be a shame because you would have missed one of the best culinary dining experiences here on the North Shore of Long Island.

I returned to 413 Lake Avenue, St James to eat at the Basil Café at Sam’s request. It is his last day here on the island before he leaves and heads back to Boston, Massachusetts as a college student for the start of his second year.

Accompanying me was my wife and mother in-law.  My sister-in-law, her son Adam, and Sam were travelling separately.  I knew I had to suffer through this meal without wine, since I was the designated driver for this adventure. Jen is still in pain and her driving skills are not as good as they used to be.

We started with the humus appetizer, and those little bread triangles that are just so divine, along with the complimentary bread, of course.  As soon as my sister in-law arrived with Sam and Adam we ordered our entrées .

Sam and Adam both ordered the lamb shank. This Persian dish is called KHORESH BUDEMJAN. It is a lamb shank cooked and served in a tomato sauce with eggplant. Did I mention this a Persian restaurant that serves Mediterranean food. All I know is its dam good and if you haven’t been there before, this is the first dish I recommend to try. Assuming of course you like meat, more so lamb. I also recommend having the rice with it because you will want to eat every drop of the sauce.

My wife, ever the new food enthusiast, order the New York strip steak (medium rare). I did try a piece and it was very good but when in Rome order Italian. When in a Mediterranean restaurant, order the lamb! Jen hates lamb.  I however, desperately needed to try somthing else on the menu having already had the lamb shanks and they are to die for I need to see if that was just a fluke or was this chef as good as I’d hoped he was. The chef’s special was an eight ounce piece of sea bass in a butter sauce. It was served with your choice basmati rice or fingering potatoes. I choose the rice of course and it came with some of the best broccoli I have ever eaten at a restaurant. This dish did not disappoint me. The fish was cooked to perfection and the sides were perfect. I just wish I had a nice Chardonnay wine to wash it all down.

I recommended the rack of lamb to my mother in-law, who immediately ruined it by ordering it well-done.  My sister in-law, who truly is adventurous in terms of food, practically let the waiter order for her since she was not able to make up her mind. He recommend the Basil special which consisted of skewered chicken and beef over basmati rice, jeweled. Jeweled rice is something extra you can add on the top of the already good basmati rice. I am not sure of everything in it, it did have onions, currants or raisins, and pistachios all cooked in a succulent saffron sauce.  She loved it and next time would order just the chicken skewers.  She let Jennifer try a piece of the beef skewer, and that was enough to convince Jennifer to order the beef next time.

Both Sam and Adam finished every grain of rice and every bit of the lamb shank and sauce. Unfortunately, after all that food no one had room for dessert. This is a shame really because I so wanted the pouched pear in rice pudding. Always leave them wanting more I suppose.

Anyway, that was my Sunday culinary adventure. Sorry if I have not posted in a few days. I have been busy taking Sam back to College. Maybe, when Sam returns from school, I will see you at the Basil Café.

That’s all for now. Until tomorrow when my post will be about Grocery shopping.

The Drunken Chef (Russ)

SUNDAY RESTAURANT REVIEW – BASIL CAFE

I was wined and dined at the Basil Cafe in Saint James, New York yesterday by our good friends Ken, Bebe, and Will. This is a Persian and Mediterranean Restaurant. The restaurant is owned by a husband and wife.

From the the small exterior, you would never expect such capacious space for seating with their newly built outdoor patio just behind the restaurant.

This is a BYOB restaurant, so if you want wine, bring it; they even encourage it here. Jennifer, Sam, and I met Bebe, Ken, and Will here after Bebe had been raving about this place for well over a year or more. They were very excited to have us join them and share in their favorite North Shore restaurant.

The three of them were already seated and had not one but two bottles of Menage a Trois wine chilling in a ice bucket next to them. It is a terrific wine at about $10 a bottle. This is a Pinot Grigio that is very nice to drink on its own. I nonetheless was hungry and looking forward to dinner here.

I had this wine for the first time last night and it is very good.

Before we even ordered, the dish below was brought to our table.

This flat bread dish was a pesto, cheese and tomatoes combination that was delicious.

I don’t even think anyone even looked at the menus when the waitress was there asking if we wanted an appetizer. Having listened to Ken and Bebe’s tales of their culinary adventures here, we all knew, aside from Jennifer, what we were having to eat last night. Bebe’s favorite appetizer is the Hummus served with a lightly seasoned flat bread, carrot sticks, and celery, so we started with that. As usual, everyone loved it but me. I found that there was a bit too much Tahini in it for my taste, as I do not like the extra peanuttyness (my own word) that everyone else did. They however liked it so much I would recommend trying it. It did go excellent with the wine. We were so busy talking we didn’t even finish it, so Bebe had it wrapped up for us to take home.

,This is the hummus appetizer. Sorry, I didn’t notice Ken’s fingers before, as he reached for his wine glass.

Before the appetizer pictured above was gone, our waitress had returned; she was a lovely and affable woman, and came to take our dinner order. Bebe, Sam, and Will all ordered the Rack of Lamb and Basmati rice (non Jeweled). Ken and I both ordered the Lamb shank. They don’t always have this, so it is a true treat when they do. This also comes with a large portion of saffron rice, and we also did not get it “jeweled”. If I remember correctly, and I probably don’t, jeweled rice is where the chef adds sautéed onions and peppers to the top. I will try this next time. For now, I wanted to taste it the way Ken and Bebe enjoy it. Jen ordered the strip steak.

When our meals came to the table, they looked beautiful.

These dishes were ALL as good as they looked. I do not get to eat lamb as often as I would like, and this lived up to everything Ken had boasted about in previous conversations. It is probably no surprise I am constantly talking about food with family and friends, or to complete strangers for that matter. I had also tasted Sam’s rack of lamb and would certainly not have been disappointed if I had gone with that as an alternative. Jennifer offered me a piece of her steak but I declined, as I had enough on my plate already (pun intended).

Ken did not finish his lamb shank and carefully added it on top of his remaining rice with the perfectly cooked roasted broccoli on top. We both even ordered that same side dish. I could not help my gluttonous self and managed to finish the entire lamb shank but could not fit in all the rice and broccoli, as Bebe was insisting I must try the dessert.

The waitress wrapped up Jennifer’s half steak and Ken’s Lamb shank. Sam, Will, and Bebe all finished their rack of lamb entrées. Once the table was cleared, the waitress she took our dessert orders. Bebe ordered rice pudding, even though it was not on the menu. What was on the menu was a Poached Pear on rice pudding with a Chambord Liqueur reduction drizzled over the top. Sam ordered the bread pudding.

This was the most decadent and delicious thing I have eaten in months. It was not only exquisite to look at, but it tasted superb. If this is one of the chef’s family recipes, I am surprised he is aa svelte as he is. It must be all the hard work and long hours he puts in at this fine dining establishment keeping him so thin. I will certainly be going back with everything being this good. I will also have to try all new dishes next time. I may go with one of those fish specials as that is something I don’t get a chance to cook at home either. I can’t wait to try more of his cooking, and THAT’S a sign of a really really good restaurant. So don’t go there, otherwise I may not get a table. At lease don’t go there when I’m planning on being there, but do please help support this local and wonderfully owned little family operated restaurant. They truly do a magnificent job at making you an old fashioned yet sophisticated family meal you will remember!

When we finally got home, Sam promptly finished the hummus, carrots, and bread before going to bed.

Until next week. Eat well, stay healthy, and OH enjoy life!

The Drunken Chef (Russ)

PIZZA NIGHT

This is a pizza place review of a place called Mulberry Street in Bayshore.

Last night was New York style pizza night. This meant no cooking for me. I did not even make the toppings this time. We let the pizza place do it all.

I went over Scott and Ally’s for pizza. Scott ordered the pizza from a place called Mulberry Street in Bayshore, NY. There are a lot of “Mulberry Streets” here on Long Island, and they are not all the same. This one makes some fancy pizzas. The first one we had last night was a Lasagna pizza.

There is a piece missing so you can see the nice pizza crust. This is a thick crust pizza.

Above, you can see the lasagna pizza. It is a Sicilian style pizza with ricotta cheese, ground beef, mozzarella cheese, and sauce. Everyone loved this pizza. Sam ate two slices of this where I could only eat one. Jennifer had a slice of the traditional round plain New York Style pizza. Some people call this a Margherita Pizza. The third and final pizza was the meat lovers. This was Scott’s favorite slice. Ally enjoyed it too but she liked the Lasagna pizza better.

I liked the lasagna slice of pizza I ate, but I’m a cheese guy and for me there just was not enough mozzarella cheese. There was plenty of ricotta cheese but I like mozzarella cheese. To me, the reason to eat pizza is for the mozzarella cheese. I mean, salad pizza, really? Give me side salad and a nice slice of Italian bread, but don’t put salad on my pizza. I am a mozzarella cheese guy all the way. If I had my way, and I don’t usually get my way, I would order a plain pie with EXTRA cheese. This is how we ordered all our pizzas when I was a kid. When I got older, I cut down on the cheese and added different toppings.

My favorite pizza is what I call the garbage pie. Sam calls it a supreme style pizza. It is a Margarita Pizza with a traditional super thin crust, marinara sauce, mozzarella cheese, Italian sweet sausage, meatballs, pepperoni, mushrooms, onions, bell peppers, and black olives. I can usually only eat one slice of this overly indulgent work of artistry, even when it is done correctly.

That was dinner last night. I hope to be cooking something good tonight. Until next time, I hope all your pizzas are good ones and they arrive on time, unscathed and fresh from the oven!

The Drunken Chef (Russ)

Now on INSTAGRAM

CC’s cafe— manhattan, lower east side review

Last week, I had an adventure of my own in the city, also to see the Immersive Van Gogh exhibit at Pier 36. It was fantastic. I highly recommend going if you haven’t already. The exhibit was organized and beautifully put together. 

Once we were ready to leave, we began exploring lunch options. I initially had found a diner nearby, but once we walked all the way there, there was a sign saying they were closed due to a small fire that occurred last week. Very disappointing, especially on such a hot day when walking 5 minutes is enough to be exhausting. Thankfully, we found CC’s café close by and were able to eat there. 

The cafe was tiny, but decorated tastefully with art on the wall, unique ambient lighting fixtures, and some plants scattered around. We sat down right away, and were promptly given water and menus by the waiter. He gave us a few minutes to look at the menu, and then we were ready to order. I ordered a make-your-own-salad with spinach, cucumbers, olives, tomatoes, chickpeas, goat cheese, grilled chicken, and honey mustard. My dad ordered a tuna sandwich with potato salad, and my cousin ordered quesadillas. Everyone enjoyed their meal, and it was portioned well enough so that we didn’t have leftovers. The café was affordably priced too.

Each table was only able to fit two to four people, but there was one slightly bigger table that could seat about six people. The tables were spaced nicely, and there was counter and window seating too. It was evident that this café was a fixture in the community. There were a few other people there, talking to the owner or working on their computer, but it was overall a quiet environment, with the hum of the television on in the background, the city sounds, people chatting, and a boiling coffee pot. This is a great place to pop into if you’re in the Chinatown area and looking for a quick meal or just a snack. You can check out CC’s Café here.

SUNDAY RESTAURANT REVIEW – ONSEN SUSHI

Onsen Shushi

597 Montauk Highway

Oakdale, NY 11769

(631) 567-1688

Friday for lunch, six people ordered take out from Onsen Shushi in Oakdale and I went to go pick it up.

I had the three-roll lunch consisting of the spicy tuna roll, Alaska roll, and shrimp tempura roll. It also came with Miso soup and salad for $13.50. I started with the miso soup. Luckily for me, my office air-conditioning is pretty high so eating soup on a hot summer day at lunch time was not a problem. Next, I tried the Alaskan roll. There was salmon and avocado in it. It was very good. I had the Spicy tuna roll next. It included some “crunchies” in it and was very tasty. Then, I had the shrimp tempura roll. There was shrimp tempura, avocado, and red leaf lettuce in it. I suspect there was just a bit of sand on my red leaf lettuce. I tried two pieces of this roll and both had a gritty texture like a clam with sand in it. A coworker of mine had the same exact order as mine and he had no issue. Therefore, it was only my one roll that had this issue.

Two people ordered the two-roll lunch. They choose the tow California rolls, a Tokyo roll and a shrimp tempura roll. No issue with the shrimp tempura roll in that order. My boss ordered the three-roll lunch special too. He had the California roll, Boston roll, and fried sweet potato roll. He loved his lunch.

The last order was a three-roll lunch special and it included a Boston roll, spicy tuna roll, and a fried sweet potato roll. All delicious.

I ate most of the sushi but could not finish it. Lastly, I ate my salad with ginger dressing. It was good too.

Although I had an issue with the one sushi roll, I understand shit happens. Since no one else had an issue, I will try them again.

The only thing missing was a bottle of Bluefeld Riesling but we were still at work, so that will have to wait until my next sushi adventure!

Until next week, be well and be happy.

Follow me on INSTAGRAM for live shows and updates as to where I am or what I am drinking.

SUNDAY RESTAURANT REVIEW -DEL FUEGO

Del Fuego – 17 Hewitt Square, East Northport, NY (631) 651-9393

Happy Monday and welcome back to the work week. I did not cook last night as we (Jennifer, Sam and my mother in-law) were invited out to dinner by my sister in-law. Adam, her son, had picked out a Mexican restaurant called Del Fuego. We have all eaten at Del Fuego’s Babylon location before, but this time we went to their Northport location, which was a bit more of a drive from our house on the South Shore of Long Island to East Northport. The drive is very scenic and fairly direct, so not bad at all. The app Jennifer was using to find the place was the only glitch. It took us to a church located just behind the restaurant, instead of the restaurant itself. I began wondering if that was a BAD omen.

We regrouped and drove around the corner to find the restaurant parking lot next to the church. I am a big fan of irony, so thought this should be fun.

We walked in and were seated right away. I did the call ahead seating thing but there was no need as there was PLENTY of empty tables this early (5:30pm). Maybe it’s more of a night time place. There were plenty of people outside and lots of staff. It looked liked they were expecting a big crowd. I’m just glad we had a nice big comfy booth and were in air-conditioning on a hot summer day in July.

The waiter came right over to take our drink orders. He introduced himself as Jake and asked if we wanted anything to drink. Before I discussed drinks, stupid me asked for menus. I guess restaurants are stopping the whole laminated menu thing now. This is the second or third restaurant I have been to where you bring the menu up on your phone from a QR code located at the table. This is a neat use of technology. I can see how the menu can be updated easily, but it can be hard to read on a phone if it is not done well, OR you’re getting older and have bad eyesight. What old geezer is going out for spicy Mexican food anyhow? ME that’s who! Besides that, they could have done a much nicer job with the ONLINE menu. For example, pictures of everything would have been helpful. Even if you can’t read worth a shit, you could see at least what you are going to be getting on your plate, then point to the picture and ask them not to make it too spicy…LOL. It’s not like they are constrained by space or printing costs anymore.

Even before the drinks came out, we had chips and salsa on the table. My sister in-law loves Del Fuego’s salsa. She probably loves the salsa more then the entrée she orders. Since there were six of us, Jennifer asked for more salsa right away. Jake was back within minutes with more salsa and chips. Jennifer didn’t even ask for the chips but he brought them anyway. He is good waiter. Their service so far was perfect. We already had enough drinks, chips, and salsa to keep everyone happy until we all knew what we wanted to eat.

Jake was soon back at our table to see if we had any questions or wanted to start with an appetizer. Jennifer ordered the Guacamole for us to share. Then, we went to work deciding and discussing who wanted to eat what. By the time Jake returned with the guac, we were ready to order. The Guacamole is excellent by the way. Jake had his pen in hand and was ready to take our orders. My mother in-law went first. She ordered the beef Chimichanga. Debbie ordered the BBQ brisket Enchiladas Baja Loco style (Tomatillo Guajillo Sauce, melted Mexican cheese, crispy onion rings, mango BBQ drizzle). Adam ordered the Fajitas with skirt steak. I ordered the Carnitas Enchiladas Baja Loco style. Jennifer ordered a beef Burrito and Sam ordered a chicken Enchilada Yucatan Style (Roasted Tomatillo Sauce, Melted Mexican Cheese , spicy salsa Rojo, and pickled red onions).

We ate chips and guacamole and talked. Jake returned to get us refills on drinks, chips and salsa. The time passed fairly quickly as we waited for our food. It was the dinner rush and I saw lots of plates going to the outside tables. It seemed that several staff members helped bring the food to the tables quickly.

We had almost finished the second round of chips that were delivered to our table when our food soon arrived. It seemed to be there in a reasonable amount of time from when we placed our order. That is good sign they know what there doing in the kitchen.

Everyone seemed to enjoy their meal. Only Jennifer and I had to box up leftovers. There were chips left on the table too but the salsa and Guacamole were both gone. Everyone thought their meal was delicious. It must be consistently good since this is our fourth or fifth time to Del Fuego, even if it was in Babylon. I would go back again. Next time, I may get something different. I loved the guacamole and salsa. The chips were really excellent too! I was not super fond of the enchiladas, but that is my own fault. I prefer the ones I make at home. The one here at Del Fuego were good but to me the sauce was just a bit too “smoky” flavored. I wonder if there is liquid smoke in it? That may just be my taste buds. Yours may love it, so I would definitely recommend this place to my family and friends. I have also been to the location in Patchogue for lunch and that too was very good. I had the Burrito there and would recommend that as well.

Pulled Pork Enchilada

My suggestion is to visit one of the four Del Fuego restaurants here on Long Island if you want a casual dining experience. Have a drink, some food, and you won’t be disappointed.

Until next time. Eat, drink, and be happy!

The Drunken Chef (Russ)

AEGEAN CAFE

35 MAIN STREET SAYVILLE, NY 11782 PHONE: 631 589-5529

Happy Tuesday. Last night’s meal was a repeat. It consisted of filet mignon (what was left), whole kernel corn with butter, and a tossed salad. It was good but I feel like I keep cooking the same boring things. I did have a good lunch yesterday, however.

Yesterday, we went out to eat for a coworker’s birthday. At first, we tried two different sushi restaurants that still had no indoor seating, huh. Then, we decided to eat at Crickets in Sayville. Again, no dice. They are closed on Mondays. As we looked across the street, and there were two more OPEN restaurants. We let the birthday boy decide. He picked the Greek place called Aegean Cafe.

The Aegean Café is a cozy little place in the heart of Sayville, Long Island on Main Street. Ahh, Main Street in small town America. I felt all Norman Rockwellish as we crossed over Main Street and headed into this fine establishment.

The waitress sat us down promptly and took our drink orders. We all perused the lunch special menu and regular menu. Everyone ordered the standard Greek fair, Gyros. I said “how boring” and ordered the sole over rice pilaf lunch special for $12.

Sole over rice

We sat a reminisced about the New York City Food carts that of course included delicious gyros. Soon, our food was there. First out were the three gyros. They all looked and tasted great (or so I was told). Then came out the sole over rice and veggies. Everyone oooed and ahhhed and said how good it smelled.

It did smell good, just as good as the sole and vegetables smelled, and it tasted even better! I enjoyed every last bite of it. We talked about wine and beer as we ate our lunch but unfortunately, we all had to go back to work. We all had some kind of iced tea drink instead. Here is where I was boring and ordered a Snapple and my coworkers all ordered the fresh brewed stuff. Everything must have been good because there was nothing left on any plate and no time for dessert but I would happily go back to try their desserts next time.

The next time you’re in Sayville looking for a new place to eat, I would recommend the Aegean Café. The service is quick and friendly, and the food is amazing!

Now, I’m off to take Jen to the doctor as she is still in a lot of pain and didn’t get much sleep last night.

Until next time. Be well, eat well, and be happy!

The Drunken Chef (Russ)

SUNDAY RESAURANT REVIEW

BABYLON CARRIAGE HOUSE

21 Fire Island Avenue, Babylon, NY 11702

Last night, I went to my favorite restaurant of this past year. The Babylon Carriage House has struggled to stay open following all the New York State guidelines through the entire pandemic. I would have surely missed this beautiful and elegant establishment if it had closed. It is located in an 1865 carriage house in the lovely town of Babylon. Throughout the entire COVID crisis, this would be the only restaurant we would actually go to and sit down to eat. To a foodie like myself, that was huge. We even purchased takeout food from them when they were not allowed to open for dine-in guests. Even after being forced into creating with their “new” take out service, their food was consistently good and we were never disappointed. SO, I was very happy to see last night that the restaurant was just beginning to fill tables with lot of boisterous people again, like ourselves.. 

When we arrived at the Carriage House, it was empty at 5:00PM, but by the time we left a crowd had started gathering. They have a small dance floor and on a Saturday night this was the place to be. I hope everyone who lives near me or comes to visit us can have a chance to try some of the marvelous dishes prepared by the chef here at the Babylon Carriage House.

We started dinner with a bottle of Pinot Grigio delle Venezie from Gabriella winery. The wine selection is excellent and they have fabulous mixed drinks too. Alyssa had the Bourbon Peach Palmer. It was bourbon, peach, 1/2 iced tea and ½ lemonade. (hence the Arnold Palmer reference). She enjoyed it so much I believe she may have had two.

Scott paired our first white wine with the baked clams and mussels. The baked clams here are large with just the right amount of herbs, and are served with a scampi sauce that makes me want shrimp scampi as I write this. The mussels too were in the garlic butter scampi sauce and served with two garlic toast points. I could have eaten the whole bowl of mussels if I did not know more food was on the way.

Soup and Caesar salad were next. First came the Caesar salad. This is Alison’s absolute favorite restaurant for this salad. I wonder if she has ever had mine. Hmm, I will have to make that one day for her. The soup would come next.

To pair with the soup, Scott had brought with him a Brian Arden West Kade Chardonnay from Nappa Valley 2014. I normally do not like Chardonnay unless it is paired with (wait for it) Lobster Bisque! Let me tell you, the Babylon Carriage House does not always have this item on the menu so you have to be lucky or like Scott, and have a waiter call you when they are serving it. Yesterday was just a happy coincidence. My wife now refers to this soup as Lobster BLISQUE. If nothing else on a cool fall day, I would come here for a glass of Chardonnay and this soup! This is a soup I will always remember with fondness too. It’s just like how I remember the French Onion Soup at the Tides in Freepost back in the nineteen eighties (dorky huh). I took my wife there on our very first date for that soup alone. I digress, there was more food coming and we were already getting full after the blisque!

Scott had ordered the Burrata next for all of us because he loves this stuff. The way they present the Burrata dish is superb. The magnificent cheese (which I will have to ask if they make there) comes on top of perfectly grilled squash (yellow and green), roasted red pepper (yum), balsamic glaze, and Extra Virgin Olive Oil. All that for $15.  Not that they should charge more! It’s perfection on a plate and at just the right price. The cheese however did not go with the Chardonnay. Oops, maybe we should have moved it up the batting order to line up with the Pinot. Next time we will, or maybe I should not have drank my Pinot so fast!

Scott also brought with him a red wine. Oh My GOSH! One more course. How many is that? Is anyone counting? I am getting dizzy, full, and sleepy but there was the red wine that needed to be drank. It was opened at the beginning of the meal and was just sitting there now mocking me. “You can’t fit me in! HA-HA!”

Scott ordered the Steak Bleu to go with the red wine which was an estate bottled Chardonnay from Schweinger Vineyards. The Steak Bleu is a 16oz NY strip steak with melted Maytag Blue Cheese and small roasted potatoes. He would split that with Ally. Jennifer loves the Slow Braised Short Ribs. They come on top of mushroom risotto with carrots and celery, with pan gravy poured over top. When you make short ribs like that, how can anything be wrong? Jennifer and I split the short ribs. Alyssa had the Caesar salad now for her entree.

The red wine paired perfectly with the ribs and was delicious, but I couldn’t manage to eat any more then a bite or two. I think I managed to finish one glass of red wine in the end. Shameful, I know.

There was no room for dessert and we were already taking food home. It was a good night, with good company and excellent food. The service at the Carriage House is outstanding, and the timing of the food perfect. I never feel rushed or hurried out the door. We came, we saw, we ate.

SUNDAY RESTAURANT REVIEW

Xaga Sushi

217 Merrick Rd, Merrick, NY 11566

Rock shrimp

This week, I went to Xaga Sushi and ate at the restaurant for the first time in almost a year. We had been ordering takeout from them, so it was nice to be able to have a sit down meal there again. It is a long drive, but it always seemed worth it.

The first thing we noticed was that the menu had changed drastically. The original menu had lovely pictures of the sushi dishes with the names underneath them, and was a few pages long. The new menu was only one page and like the take-out menu, had few pictures.

We started with the crabmeat and mango salad. Unfortunately, the mango did not seem ripe, and the crabmeat was cut so fine it was mushy. I only managed to eat it with the spring mix they put it on. This was not a good start to the meal. We even purchased a bottle of the Blufeld Riesling, which wasn’t chilled properly and didn’t taste good. Then, we ordered the rock shrimp. This was better than the salad but still lacked something, perhaps a little heat. I preferred (and miss) the rock shrimp from Monsoon Restaurant in Babylon, but they never opened back up post-COVID.

Our entrèe consisted mostly of uncooked rolls. We started with some of our favorites, like the Love Roll and Spicy Girl, then added new ones like the Red Head roll and the Snow Mountain roll. They all seemed lackluster; they were good, but not “wow these are yummy”. They missed the boat on presentation too. I mean, if I am eating out, I want the dish to have a nice presentation! Maybe I’m watching too many Food Network TV shows.

After that, there was tempura, which was also just okay. This meal was not worth the drive. I don’t think we will be going back anytime soon. We passed The One sushi restaurant on the way, and I love to go there. Maybe Xaga was having an off night, but everything about it screamed new ownership or new management, which is a shame because I used to really love this place. Whatever happened, I hope they get back to being a nice sit down restaurant instead of just a good take out sushi place.   

My recommendation for this restaurant is to get your sushi to go and save your date night for a nicer experience.

-The Drunken Chef (Russ)

/https://www.xagasushi.com/merrick/

Taproom review—bayshore, ny

On Monday night, I went out with two of my friends to the Taproom, a restaurant and bar located on Main Street in Bayshore. They serve a wide array of salads, sandwiches, burgers, and tacos, while also featuring a wide array of craft beers. Being that I’m not old enough to drink, I can’t say anything about the alcohol, but I can tell you the people sitting at the bar were very excited that the Islanders were scoring. I don’t know whether or not they won.

My friends and I were seated promptly upon arriving, and the tables were spaced nicely to accommodate for social distancing. Our waitress came over shortly after and asked us what we wanted to drink; we all ordered water. For appetizers, we opted for a plate of truffle fries and mac and cheese bites. The truffle fries were very flavorful, consisting of parsley, parmesan, and of course, truffle oil. It had been a while since we had them, and they are a favorite among all of us. The mac and cheese bites were tasty as well. We weren’t expecting there to be what seemed to be an anchovy dressing on them, but it added an interesting flavor to the mac and cheese. I would definitely be interested in trying a plate of mac and cheese there—the bites left me wanting more!

Onto our entrees, one friend ordered the Fried Wonton Duck Tacos. It came as a set of four tacos paired with chips and salsa. The chips were more chewy than expected, so we weren’t a huge fan of them. Our other friend ordered the Chicken Alla Vodka sandwich, since she loves Penne Alla Vodka, and enjoyed it as well. I ordered the Shrooms and Bulbs craft burger and the strawberry side salad with it. Both were phenomenal. I asked for my burger to be cooked ‘well done’ and I was impressed that it was cooked all the way through, since in the past I’ve found that can be hard to come by at restaurants. Another feature I like about the Taproom is that for their craft burgers and sandwiches, you can choose your side. You can either get french fries or sweet potato fries with your meal, or for an extra dollar, you can order Cajun fries, or for two dollars, you can choose from the strawberry side salad (this is also served as an entrée on their menu), truffle fries, or onion rings.  

Overall, the food was fabulous, but filling. Half of my burger and salad, along with half of my friend’s chicken alla vodka sandwich came home with us since we were so full. I’m looking forward to coming back here in the future, and maybe The Drunken Chef can write about the beer. In the meantime, you can check out the restaurant here. In addition to their Bayshore location, they are in Patchogue and Massapequa Park as well. 

Mac & Cheese bites
Truffle fries
Chicken alla vodka sandwich.
Fried Wonton Duck tacos