Tag Archives: Restaurant Review

Sunday Restaurant Review

“The Chowder Bar”

The Chowder Bar

123 Maple Avenue

Bay Shore, NY

        Yesterday, here in New York was a cold and damp rainy day. When I suggested to my wife the idea of clam chowder she jumped at the opportunity as she too felt the chill in the air. She asked if I was planning of going to the Chowder Bar for a delicious bowl of their yummy soup. Indeed I was.

        I started going to this quaint little seafood restaurant located next to the Fire Island Ferry in Bay Shore way back in the 80’s. It was shortly after I asked for the recommendation of one of my bread delivery vendors. He recommended this restaurant even though he knew it would be a bit of a drive for me.

        The drive was well worth it as both my mother, who has since passed many years ago, and I loved everything we ate that day. I do have fond memories of that day spent with her. I have been going there ever since. Luckily, I have even moved a considerable distance closer so I could go more often. They do not have a large menu nor is it a “bougie” fancy pants restaurant. No, not at all, as a matter of fact, it is laid back and relaxing place. Almost like a small dinner. The inside still has its original counter where you can sit and watch the chef preparing your meal though the small service window.   After all this time it continues to have a really good selection of hot soups and after long cold day on the beach or traveling on a boat, their soup sure helps to warm you right up.

        By now, three decades later, I have eaten every fried item on the menu, several times. Even after all this time, I am never disappointed with their food. Their consistency in the making of the food has remained the same throughout all this time, which is more then I can say about most things and most places in life.

        On this most recent visit, I ordered a quart of New England Clam Chowder and the fried shrimp basket. It was, of course cooked to perfection and it is always just how I remember it on that very first trip way back in the 80’s. When I mentioned to my son, who is currently up in Boston, that I had gone to the Chowder Bar and ordered the clam chowder, he said his favorite soup there is the seafood bisque. He even tried to convince me I made a mistake and that should have ordered the soup that he likes. Both are very good. I have also had the Manhattan clam chowed many, many times and it too is delicious too.  

        Any trip there always takes me back to when I first took my mother. Soon after, when I was dating my wife we went there on a date. To this day, I continue to recommend this cozy eating establishment to friends and family.  

        So if you ever in the neighborhood of Bay Shore on Long Island NY stop by for a bowl of soup and maybe the fried flounder boat. I promise you, you won’t regret it.

The Drunken Chef (Russ)

© Russ Ahrens and The Magic of a Perfect Pairing, 2022

Sunday Restaurant Review

        This is not so a much a restaurant review as it is an article about a local Deli I frequent. The Deli is the Captree Gourmet Deli located at 426 Union Blvd, West Islip, NY. 11795. I have been going there for years to buy breakfast and lunch.

        I have been going to New York Deli’s since I was a young whippersnapper. I went with my mother and she was very particular about the cold cuts and the salads she purchased.  The last Deli I remember her shopping at was a huge place that was two towns away from where we lived. This Deli was where she would buy all her salads (macaroni, cold slaw and potato salad) and cold cuts.

        When I was older and owned my owned house, I could never find salads as good as those salads I had as a kid. Therefore, I started my quest to make my own. Yet, even my own homemade salads were never as good as those salads that were made in those old German style deli’s i went to as a child. Until, recently when because of shear laziness I purchased potato salad at the Captree Deli. This salad was delicious as was the roast beef sandwich I had with it!  

        The next time I visited the Captree Deli for lunch it was to purchase all three of my favorite salads, potato, macaroni and cold slaw. All three tasted just like those delis’ of my childhood. I thought perhaps maybe it was wishful thinking so the next time I went to a friend’s house for a barbeque I would bring these salads for a second opinion.

        Sure enough, everyone at the barbeque loved these salads from Captree. Not only that but now every time I ask what I can bring to their barbeques, they request those salads! So much for making my own anymore!! At least for the time being.

        So if you are ever in the neighborhood of West Islip New York like those great men and woman who work at Good Samaritan Hospital stop buy and get lunch or breakfast at the Captree Deli you won’t be disappointed.   

The Drunken Chef Russ

© Russ Ahrens and The Magic of a Perfect Pairing, 2022



Jericho Turnpike, Commack, NY

Sunday night (of last week) I had dinner with my sister in-law, my nephew and my wife. I have been here a few time over the past few years even before there was such a thing as Covid and I always find me way back here. That’s because the chef never seems to disappoint me.

We arrived just a tad before 6pm and we were all promptly seated. Although, the restaurant had quite a few guests, although it was not the packed, with a long line as I remember from a few years ago.  I think at its busiest it was three-quarters full.  They did seem to have enough staff, as we felt well-attended to as the waiter was at our table often enough to keep our water glasses filled at the very least.

When the waiter first arrived, he was carrying a basket of bread and butter for the table, nice. Then as we perused the menu’s he brought over warm focaccia bread (pictured below). It was then that we ordered our first course. We ordered the very large chopped salad for the table.

The salad appeared faster than I could have anticipated. It was served family style along with separate salad plates. My wife dished out the salad rather than passing around the great big bowl.  It came with a delicious creamy balsamic dressing. There were four of us and more than enough salad to justify the $21 price tag.  Just don’t fill up on salad because you will miss out on eating their amazing and huge portioned entrees.

Jennifer ordered the Fettuccini Alfredo. This is a favorite of mine as well. However, I ordered the Homemade Rigatoni Chicken Marsala. This is small bites of Chicken, mushrooms, Sicilian Marsala wine sauce, homemade mozzarella and fresh made pasta. My Nephew, Adam, ordered The Rigatoni St Terese with homemade pasta. Rigatoni St Terese is Chicken, fresh spinach, pink tomato cream sauce, and grated Pecorino Romano cheese. This too I have had many times. Yum! Lastly, Debbie ordered the Eggplant Parmesan. This comes with a side of spaghetti with tomato sauce. 

The entrees arrived shortly after are salad was gone but not too quickly that I felt rushed. My Chicken Marsala was delicious and I paired it with a huge glass of Peroni beer that went perfectly. They even presented it in a Peroni beer glass which added an extra nice touch.  Everyone enjoyed their meal.  Unfortunately, none of us had ANY room left for dessert.  The meal was spectacular and the service was terrific. Even the bill was not astronomical for the amount of food we received. I do like to have a large portion with left overs to take home.

I highly recommend Emilio’s for not only dinner but their pizza is also excellent!  I also recommend reservations on a Friday (date night), Saturday or Sunday.  

So if you go, tell them The Drunken Chef sent you or maybe not, they may think I’m just a pain in the ass.

Here is to your good eating, good wine, and good health,


The Drunken Chef

The Sunday Morning Post

Good Morning. I have my coffee and my sanity so we are moving in the right direction. Today I think I will search out a new farmers markets for some vegetables and fresh apples.

Update: It is day 22 of the friendship bread original starter. I did a live baking demo on Instagram of this batch. I am posting some pictures (above) of the second batch. Jennifer wanted smaller loaves to take to her class. Three more lucky people will get a crack at this amazing breakfast treat, or is it dessert. If you make it let me know when you eat it and how or when you eat it.

I also went out to eat twice this weekend. Well once we went out and once we brought food in. On Friday, Scott, Ally, Jennifer and I went to the Babylon Carriage House. Babylon is the name of a town here on Long Island. It always creeps me out to be in a town named after a place in the bible. I don’t know why. It just does. Anyway, we started with the autumn salad pictured below. It was, what’s the word, yum-a-riffic.  I will be recreating this salad next week at home in my kitchen.

Talking about salad dressing. I have to make several versions of Greek salad dressing.  I will being trying to create a new tasty salad dressing. There are after-all hundreds, maybe thousands, of Greek Salad Dressing recipes out there. Some good and some not so good. I am bored with the salad dressings I currently make so it is time for something new. My ingredient list will be: oil-packed anchovy fillets, garlic, egg yolks, Dijon mustard, freshly squeezed lemon (or lime) juice, extra virgin olive oil, canola oil,  Parmesan cheese or feta cheese, freshly ground black pepper (or white pepper), salt and maybe some fresh herbs…Cilantro or parsley or watercress. Who knows what I will make but that’s cooking isn’t it?  You experiment or make a mistake and *poof* you have something new.

We went to one other restaurant this weekend. It was an Italian restaurant I used to love but the last two times it let me down by over cooking the pasta. That would be bad enough by itself but when said pasta is the main entrée, as in Fettuccine Alfred, it is unforgivable. This was the case BOTH times. Why do I order out anyhow? I’ll tell you. It’s because sometimes I just don’t feel like cooking but if you can’t find a restaurant that can cook as good as you it’s disappointing. At least there is still the Carriage house who has an amazing chef. There is also Emilio’s in Commack. They CAN cook Italian food properly. I will keep going there for now!!

I also had a steak at the Carriage House and Scout brought with him a marvelous wine.

Breakfast today was simple, a cheese omelet, hash browns and toast with butter.

Enjoy the rest of your Sunday. May it be filled with good wine, good food, good friends and good health to you and your family!

The Drunken Chef (Russ)


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)


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)


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.


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.

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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)


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)