Nassau County, Long Island. A+L live here, K+M grew up here, all four of us work here. Of course we would all love to drive in to the city every day and night (GOD knows we have tried), but it is just not possible. So we had to put our local towns to the 2 Plus 2 test. There are a couple of places around Long Island that each of us may visit once or twice. Those places may be good but they don’t match up to the places we call our favorites. Our hometown favorites are the places we go to pretty much every other week, sometimes even twice in one week. When we visit these places there is no pre-drink spot and no after dinner drinks somewhere else. Once we arrive, we stay there long enough to call it all of those things and wind up spending the whole night, hardly ever wanting to leave. So who made the cut? How and why did they past the test?
A+L stumbled on Aperitif Bistro while looking for a local place to eat in Rockville Center during a midweek search. They drove by, looked in, and knew they had to try it out based on curb appeal alone! It’s French, it’s tapas and it’s delicious! As soon as they were done with their first bite the texts to K+M were sent. “YOU GUYS HAVE TO COME HERE WITH US!”. So within a couple of days 2+2 had a night out at Aperitif and it was just as A+L had told them. Practically every tapas dish on the menu was ordered, literally! Hummus and Grilled Calamari with Grilled Flat Bread, Duck Rolls and Ginger Plum Sauce and Magret De Canard (Seared Duck Breast) with Sweet Potato Puree, Sauteed Spinach and Dried Fruit Reduction, just to name a few. The food is intricately and creatively prepared and presented and if it just wasn’t for the “I am so full, I could be ill!” factor there might have been even more food on our table and the night might have lasted way past closing time, as it has so many times since! This is now A+L’s absolute favorite local venue and when they come here, it’s hard to get them out.
Another place frequently visited by A+L on the way home from work is Left Coast Kitchen and Cocktails. Found by L while driving around the town of Merrick getting the ‘To Do’ list checked off, he immediately called A and mentioned we visit later that evening. It’s a American Gastropub newly opened by owners from California who moved here and wanted to provide a place for people to call their local spot. For a beer lover and a surfer (it’s so close to the beach!), this spot was perfect for L and then the added innovative food combinations sealed the deal. Some favorites include the Mussels and Eggs Benedict (so good that A even likes them), More Long than Short Ribs [12 Hour Braised with Loaded Deep Fried Baked Potato] and the No Joke Spicy Beef Taco [Shaved Strip Steak, 3 Cheeses, Poblanos Chiles, Crushed Avocado, and Creme]. A+L knew this would be another Long Island gem added to the list of places for them to stop in after work for a quick bite and a cocktail when L doesn’t feel like cooking.
Located five minutes from where K+M grew up, and just as far from M’s office, Waterzooi Belgian Bistro in Garden City as been visited by us more times then we can remember. It’s Long Island’s only Belgian Bistro! They consistently serve amazing dishes such as Moules Fra Diavlo (mussels in a spicy marinara), BBQ Braised Short Ribs, Steak Frites, Zee Bass, and The Wellington Burger. The Belgian beer selection is endless and filled with some very interesting, tasty beers. You will find us here on Friday’s for Happy hour. They offer $1 off drinks, but the real reason for our visit is the unlimited mussels (different styles every time, K loves mussels) and fries. Happy hour usually will turn into grabbing a table and ordering even more mussels and the top half of the menu. Dinner is not the only thing that Waterzooi does well; its the brunch that gets us every time. When any one of our family members calls us to grab brunch, this is always the place that we end up coming. French toast, Lobster Eggs Benedict and some mimosas makes for a great lazy Sunday on Long Island.
The one thing that all of these great places have in common is Consistency. That, we have found, is sometimes hard to come by on Long Island. Fantastic service, lively atmosphere, delicious food and unique drinks… every time. They never disappoint us and that’s why they have become our ‘go-to’ places. Where are you going for brunch this Sunday? We know were we will be.
Drinks and Dinner- 2+2www.AperitifBistro.com French Bistro, Wine & Cocktails, Nassau
Since moving away from Queens it’s been difficult to find good restaurants in the Nassau County area, let alone ones that produce consistently praiseworthy food. Well the search is over Mes Amis. Just a hop, skip and jump into Rockville Centre is Aperitif Bistro and Wine Bar.
Opened about a year ago by the same ownership group as the Sage Bistro, Aperitif became an instant hit in the area. With its solid foundation of French classics and fusion dishes, the restaurant offers what some others in the area don’t… NYC quality food and service outside of the city. Throw in a thoughtful wine/beer list, top shelf liquor from around the world, one of the best bartenders we have met in a while and you have yourself a winner.
The décor of the restaurant is full on French bistro from the floor tile to the globe lights. The rich dark wood of the walls, tables and chairs add to its sultry feel. Bench seating with thick, soft, red fabric lines the half wall that separates the restaurant from the lounge/bar area. Just as you walk in there is a nice sitting area to lounge and sip fancy Bordeaux. On the weekends a DJ sets the mood playing everything from the standards to hip hop.
Aperitif offers two menus as well as daily specials. The traditional menu is a list of apps, salads, soups, raw bar, mains and desserts. There is also a fantastic small plate menu with smaller portions of some appetizers and mains and additional selections which happens to be our favorite menu to order from. Off the main menu try the juicy Hanger Steak and Frites, tender Seared Duck Breast or the Pignoli Crusted Tuna. The Shrimp and Avocado Tower Salad is light, fresh and a can’t miss. Salads are priced around $6-$13 and entrees run $16-$29. Very reasonable for the level of quality.
It’s no secret that we love small plates and Aperitif has one of the best tapas menus around. The variety is amazing and there is a little something for every taste. Dishes are grouped in the $5, $7-$9 and $11-$13 ranges. But don’t be fooled; there is just as much food on the plate in each of the price ranges. The unusual combination of Grilled Calamari and Hummus plays nicely together ($5) and the Chicken Liver Pate ($5) is one of the lightest we have had in a while. The Mussels Du Jour are always inventive and for $8, are well worth it. Moving up in price, the Grilled Octopus was buttery and tender ($9). Both the Tuna Tartar with Guacamole ($12) and Lobster Ceviche made with Strawberries and Champagne Vinegar ($13) are enjoyable and fresh. A must have at every visit is the huge Cheese Plate ($11). There are usually 5+ types of Cheeses with drizzled Truffle Honey and toasted Raisin Walnut Bread. It’s a meal in itself.
The wait service in the main dining room is attentive and energetic but we prefer to sit at the bar and shoot the “you know what” with our favorite bartender, Jonathan. A true mixologist, the man has a complete arsenal of classic mixed drinks with a twist and some of his own creations. His knowledge doesn’t end there. The man is a very astute wine connoisseur and can pair easily pair your meal plate by plate. He has a rare combination of intellect while being totally unpretentious. Ask for the Hipster (a new favorite), he will know what you mean.
We are so glad we found Aperitif. It has quickly become one of our few Go-To restaurants in the area. Make a trip down and it may become one of yours as well.
- Cruising the Loire River Wine Flight [Muscadet, Melon de Bourgogne; Vouvray, Chenin Blanc; Sancerre Rouge, Pinot Noir]
- When in Bordeaux Wine Flight [Chateau Chaubinet, Bordeaux Blanc Sauvignon Blanc; Prieure-Marquet, Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon; Chateau La Tour Prignac Medoc, Blend]
- Touraine- Loire Valley, France
- White Sangria
- Mai Tais
- The Hipster Cocktail
- Lillet Blanc
- Plus lots of fabulous cocktail concoctions (ask Jonathan to mix you up something special) and craft beers!
Tapas and Entrees
- Sweet Meat Balls with Coconut Curry Sauce
- Hummus and Grilled Calamari with Grilled Flat Bread
- Skewered Chicken Tenders with Peanut Sauce
- Zucchini Pancakes with Yogurt Sauce
- Chicken Liver Pate with Pickled Mushrooms and Toast Points
- Mussel Provencal
- Brie on Toast with Apple and Walnut Salad in a Raspberry Sauce
- Prosciutto Flat Bread with Caramelized Onion and Gruyere
- Duck Rolls and Ginger Plum Sauce
- Cheese Plate with Truffled Honey
- Grilled Octopus with Red Onions, Tomatoes and Chick Peas
- Lobster Ceviche with Strawberry and Champagne Vinaigrette
- Asparagus Risotto
- Magret De Canard- Seared Duck Breast with Sweet Potato Puree, Sauteed Spinach, Dried Fruit Reduction
A: This is hands down my favorite local spot! We’ve definitely dined here twice in one week before. The wine selection is stellar, the food is right up my alley and the staff makes it perfect! Friendly, funny and full of energy… they are the icing on the cake. Sit at the bar! You will stay all night!
K: Long Island needs more places like Aperitif. It has a great atmosphere and really great food. If it were closer, I’d definitely be a regular.
L: Our go to spot for an immediate fix, we love this place. Perfect for a quick stop in or an extended siesta. I have been there about 10 times and I’m still not sick of it.
M: This place was great. I really wish I had room to eat more. Everything we ordered hit the spot and then some. I had no idea that the French made beer and now and I love it. Wish I lived as close to here has A+L do.
Our Rating Scales…
- Scene- Lively, lovely and local! An amazing French bistro full of atmosphere.
- Food/Drinks- 4: Stellar- Wouldn’t change a thing!
- Tip Worthy- 5: The New Yorker 25-30%
- Coordinates- 4: Neighborhood- Centrally located.
- Restaurant Return Rate- Green Light!
Drinks and Dinner- A+Lwww.LCKNY.com American Gastropub, Craft Beers/Cocktails, Nassau
Having recently relocated from Queens to the South Shore of Nassau County, A+L are always out looking for some local gems. I mean, we can’t drive 40 minutes to the city EVERY night, nor do we want to… that’s why we live near the beach! While out running some errands in the ‘hood, L spotted a new addition to the block, complete with a vintage inspired, chalkboard throw-back sign. It was sucking him in… Must… try… soon… So we went, that night!
Left Coast Kitchen and Cocktails opened in Merrick, Long Island, after owners and recent California transplants realized there wasn’t a local place to hang out, have a stylish couple of drinks and snack on inventive (yet reasonably priced) chow. Man, do we agree with you! Our prayers have been answered.
Scenario… it’s Tuesday, you’re on your way home from work, you require (!) a martini and would prefer that you didn’t complete your night with a Wendy’s Spicy Chicken Sandwich. Just two minutes off the Meadowbrook (also great on your way home from Jones Beach), grab a bar stool or a booth, and relax with a great selection of specialty craft beers and a bowl of the Mussels Benedict (Amazing! Mussels, Hollandaise, Poached Eggs, English Muffins). The Gastropub atmosphere is casual and lively and the bar is always stocked with talkative couples sipping drinks. The relaxed dining room overlooks the kitchen and accommodates a more family friendly atmosphere.
We’ve visited on several occasions based on the aforementioned scenario and have thus, had a chance to sample some of the key offerings on the menu. The results have always been highly favorable, with Chef Chris’ attention to detail and knack for creating interesting and inventive flavor profiles, shining through. I mean, who would’ve thought that Mussels and Eggs Benedict would work so well together! Or that our favorite bar snack would incorporate both truffle oil and cinnamon on freshly popped popcorn. It is addictive! On a recent visit for breakfast, our previous meals were blown away. It was the best breakfast we’ve ever had! Pumpkin praline pancakes and Sweet potato tots with pulled pork and eggs were absolutely outstanding. Picking was near impossible because everything sounded so delicious. This vintage inspired, yet modern pub, is a new local favorite.
- Brut, Korbel, California, NV (A)
- Reisling, Prinz von Hessen, “H”, Rheingau, Germany, 2008 (A)
- Signature Martinis (A)
- Huge Assortment of Craft Beers (L)
- Mimosa Kit (A+L+M)
- Pumpkin Praline Chocolate Pancakes with Whipped Cream (A+L+M)
- The Truck Stop- Maple Mesquite Sweet Potato Tots with BBQ Pulled Pork and Sunny Side Up Eggs (A)
- Morning in the Mission- Cheese Quesadilla topped with Black Bean and Red Rice Scrambled Eggs, Ranchero Sauce, Cheese, Guacamole and Sour Cream (L)
- Corned Beef with Hollandaise and Eggs (M)
- Mussels Benedict [2 lbs of Mussels with Prosciutto, Hollandaise, Egg Drop and English Muffin for Dippin] (A+L)
- No Joke Spicy Beef Taco [Shaved Strip Steak, 3 Cheeses, Poblanos Chiles, Crushed Avocado, Salsita Diablo and Creme] (A+L)
- LCK Burger [Angus Beefy, Oniony, Cheesy, Bacony and Such with Chris' Burger Slaw and Shoe String Fries] (A+L)
- More Long than Short Ribs [12 Hour Braised with Loaded Deep Fried Baked Potato] (A+L)
A: A great local find! Just because its casual and its a neighborhood spot doesn’t mean it can’t be awesome! The food hasn’t disappointed and has really been quite delicious. My one critique… the service could be a bit more attentive.
L: Nice Gastropub with superb food. One of the better burgers I have had in a while. The owners are great people and coming from California. Chris, the chef, knows his way around a variety of food. Can’t wait until they open a Mexican restaurant.
Our Rating Scales…
- Scene- Reinventions of America classics in a casual neighbor atmosphere
- Food/Drinks- 4: Stellar! Wouldn’t change a thing.
- Tip Worthy- 4: Double the tax and then some
- Coordinates- 3: City- 10 minute ride to fun
- Restaurant Return Rate- Green light
Drinks and Dinner- 2+2
Waterzooi Belgian Bistro850 Franklin Avenue, Garden City 516-877-2177 www.waterzooi.com Belgian, Beer/Cocktails, Nassau
Located on the main drag in the lovely Garden City, Waterzooi is a Belgian Gastropub that has it all. This is usually how the story goes- K+M arrive for the happy hour on Friday after work, sit by the bar and order one of 130 beers, or just some signature cocktails. K heads over to the complimentary moules (mussels) and frites, and then repeat, its Ms turn. Depending on our arrival time, M might go up once more for a second plate of the fries! Once happy hour is over, we always end up grabbing a table (hopefully outside if the weather is nice) and ordering some more delights from the menu. Depending upon if they have changed the menu for the season, we start with either the Pulled pork sliders, or the BBQ Braised Beef Short Rib Sliders and of course, more of the Moules Fra Diavlo (sometimes happy hour is just not enough!). After the warm up, its on to the simple but very tasty burger. Finally the night ends with the Chocolate Chip Brownie Sundae, which M can’t live without.
Wait! It’s not over. It’s now Sunday and we want brunch. Back to Waterzooi again! Their Brunch is just as good, if not better then the dinner menu. It sounds something like this: Eggs Benedict three different ways; Lobster, Smoked Salmon, and Belgian, the Croque Madame, French Toast, Brussels Waffles and even Steak Frites. A couple of cups of coffee to top it all off and we are done… until next week that is.What we ate… (Over many visits)
- Innovate Cocktails including their housemade infused vodkas
- Stella Artois
- Blue Moon
- Chimay Wit
- Pauwel Kwak
- Local 1
- Pulled Pork Sliders
- Belgian BBQ Brasied Beef Short Ribs
- Moules Fra Diavlo
- Steak Frites
- Bistro Burger
- Zee Bass
- Eggs Benedict (Smoked Salmon, Lobster, Belgian)
- Country Omelet
- Warm Chocolate Chip Brownie
A: A fun happy hour destination with tasty snacks! Garden City is such a lovely locale after work… we often stay way too late!
K:By far, the best moules frites I’ve ever had! They have over a dozen different broths to choose from… I love the marinere and montrachet. From 5-7 you can get free moules frites and a dollar off drinks– what a steal! I’ve had about 95% of the menu and have only found a few things that I didn’t care for…generally this place is always consistently fabulous! I never get sick of it!
L: Just stopped in here for a beer or two but I loved the atmosphere.
M: I could have the brunch here everyday. Don’t think it will every get old. It’s always the place we go to when we are getting together with our friends and family. Just talking about it makes me want to go right now. Can’t wait for the Eggs Benny and the Chocolate chip brownie.
Our Rating Scales…
- Scene- Euro chic seller restaurant
- Food/Drinks- 4: Stellar! Wouldn’t change a thing.
- Tip Worthy- 3: Gratuity included
- Coordinates- 4: Neighborhood- Centrally located.
- Restaurant Return Rate- GREEN LIGHT!