Vitae in Huntington Closed

Jun. 27, 2015

Sad News in Huntington

DebsFood is very sad to announce that Vitae Restaurant in Huntington closed on May 31, 2015. After a long and successful run, the restaurant has been sold. Can't wait to see what turns up next. For those of you following The Wizard, Chef Steve Del Lima can now be found at the brand new White Oak Oyster Bar & Grill in NYC!

Vitae Restaurant, Huntington NY (Continental/New American)

     Not exactly new but certainly noteworthy, Vitae sits hidden away on New Street in Huntington quietly attracting a very loyal following and gaining in popularity.  Open for about a year and a half now, after one visit to this "hidden gem" as many call it, I can see why.  We were out on a stormy evening and welcomed into Vitae, a warm and glowing restaurant, elegant yet comfortable.  We were given our choice of tables and, for any of my faithful readers who know my pet peeve about being stuck at a table barely fit for two in an empty restaurant, this was a real treat.  In fact, the entire staff from servers to the manager(?) were efficient, knowledgeable, friendly and appeared to truly love what they were doing.  How refreshing!  I couldn't wait to taste the food.

     I started with the short-rib meatball "lollipops,"  braised short-ribs rolled into meatballs, lightly breaded and fried, served with a horseradish cre'me fraiche, pickled red onions and an unbelievably flavorful pan sauce.  Beautifully presented, even more beautifully tasting.  We also tasted the Grilled Marinated Portugese Octopus (I'm not sure if the octopus came from Portugal, or that was the style of preparation, but it was excellent), with sweet balsamic onions, topped with a baby arugula salad and lemon sage vinaigrette.  For dinner, my husband chose the Angus Flat Iron Steak over Latin Style fried rice (nice preparation with fresh chopped veggies and chorizo) and topped with a sunnyside up egg and delicate haystack potatoes, served with a classic chimichurri.  As you know, I'm not really a fan of steak at all, but this was tender as a filet mignon, but more flavorful even without the sauce.  The egg and chimichurri only added to the taste.  The potatoes were ok, just not the best choice in the humidity.  My choice for dinner was a Blue Crab Crusted Sole.  This, I must say, was just perfect.  The misture of crab and crumbs on top was like having a crab cake on top of a tender piece of sole.  No filler, no mayo, just crab.  Excellent.  Surrounded by sauces of lemon beurre blanc and red pepper emulsion.  The fish was served with a grilled vegetable orzo and baby spinach chiffonade.  Lovely combination.  Not one flaver overwhelming another. 

      Dessert:  The choices were difficult, but we (ok, I) settled on the Warm Chocolate Lava Cake with a side of Bannas Foster Gelato (you cannot get enough of this) raspberry coulis, vanilla tuile, whipped cream & chocolate chards.  My husband is a fast eater, and I'm usually the last one finished in our house.  Not this time!   So, thank you to our wonderful waiter Doug, and the owner and staff at Vitae.  We have found a number of wonderful places in Huntington, but will be back here soon.   Count us in for the wine tasting dinner in October.    (see more photos below - sorry no room for dessert photo - go and be surprised!)

  • Vitae Meatball "Lollipops"

  • Vitae Portugese Octopus

  • Vitae Crab Crusted Sole

Feb. 15, 2013

Vitae's Valentine's Dinner

I finally figured out the identity of The Wizard of Oz. Its Steve DeLima**, the executive chef at Vitae Restaurant in Huntington -he's behind those kitchen doors granting wishes and making magic. Nothing you order comes out looking like you think it will, and everything you try tastes better than you imagine it should! I've never actually seen what goes on back there, but I can tell you its extraordinary - the kind of ruby slippers and sparkling City of Oz extraordinary that still amazes adults!

  • Maine Lobster-Sweet Potato & Truffle Chowder, with lobster meat, sweet corn hush puppy, bell pepper and White Truffle Drizzle! Then, a dessert of a deconstructed banana cream pie (homemade crust, caramelized bananas atop a banana custard that melts in your mouth, fresh whipped cream at the center, and I'd swear the inside of the crust was caramelized!)
    This was one dinner you needed magic to create. On top of all the other orders (all of which I wish I had tasted) in a packed house full of 2-top tables, and he does it with his hands behind his back.
    So, thanks again to my favorite Wizard of Food. I was honored to dine at Vitae tonight.

  • Steve's Winter Wedge Salad, julienned apple, sweet walnuts, apple wood smoked bacon, gorgonzola & parmesan vinaigrette. According to my husband - who puts salt on everything - it was perfect.

  • Roasted Cauliflower Risotto which defies description (I ordered it because I was full from the soup and wasn't expecting much, but now I wish I had a quart or 2 of that to take home).
    Its made with Pancetta, Butternut Squash, Romano and Parmesan Cheeses and Lemon Herb Butter. But I know there was some of that Wizard Magic in there too because the risotto rice was cooked just right, the cauliflower was the same texture as the rice, & the combination of flavors was tantalizing. Never had it better anywhere!
    Also, we had the Famous Flat Iron Steak topped w a sunny side egg & cuban haystack potatoes, along with cuban style fried rice w/ chorizo.
    (see pic with main review)

Restaurant Lola, Middle Neck Rd., Great Neck, NY

Lola's Torchon of Fois Gras w/ Fig Glaze, Duck Prosciutto & Brioche

     Lola, open for a number of years now, is certainly not new but, is definitely noteworthy. Beautifully decorated and expertly staffed, Chef/owner Michael Ginor has created an oasis of gastronomic excellence in Great Neck. Known for his incredible techniques with duck and fois gras, I was a bit hesitant at first, but at my first bite of the beets in the Beet salad with Mozzarella Burrata (I hate beets) I knew I was in good hands and gave myself up to a roller coaster of visual treats and taste sensations. My recommendation? If you want a real treat, go to Lola and let the serve you the Ultra Elaborate tasting dinner.
     A picture says a thousand words, and mine definitely do, so I am going to ask you to look below to get a true feel of what Chef Ginor can create. However, there were a few unbelievable elements to our dinner that need special mention.
     First, a Torchon of Fois Gras w/ Fig Glaze, & Duck Prosciutto: There are not many words to describe this dish – creamy, sensual, buttery, too good to stop eating but so good you don’t want to finish it and it will be gone. The kind of flavor and mouth feel you go home and dream about. If my entire meal consisted of seven courses of this, it would have been ok.
     Sticking with a theme, a small plate of Grill/Seared Fois Gras over Caramelized Onions w/ newborn potatoes (yes, newborn!). Did I mention I hate liver & onions. This was not liver & onions. This dish looks like a steak, smells like a steak, but tastes like the inside of a chocolate truffle when it melts in your mouth, sweetened by the onions and accompanied by tiny, baby potatoes that are, honestly, almost too cute to eat. Almost.
     Moving along, a Surf & Surf dish of Lobster, Crab & Salmon w/ Sauteed Haricot Verts: Again, a perfectly cooked blend of seafood, the lobster tail so tender you could take it apart with your fork, the claws so sweet, the salmon tender with a glazed skin, all presented over a foaming seafood bisque sauce. Wow...
     There was more as you will see, but I must single out this one amazing Short Rib, Apple Wood Smoked until tender and falling apart but still sweet and juicy, with a crispy top over a sweet/tangy bbq sauce. I’ve run out of words.
     Thank you to Chef Ginor, and the efficient staff at Lola for providing such an indulgent dinner on our anniversary, for taking extra care not only with us, but with all your diners. And to my readers, go to Lola. For a special occasion its perfect, and if you are not in the mood to indulge, go anyway. Their dinner menu is reasonable, there are Tapas menus so you can pick as much or as little as you want to eat or spend, and tasting menus for as little as $35.00.
     Now, take a look at my pics and tell me you are not going there soon!!!
  • Mozzarella Buratta, w/ Assorted Beet & Fruit Salad

  • Lightly Spiced Tuna & Scallop Tartar w/ Crispy Fennel Fronds, Spicy Sauce and Herbed Olive Oil.

  • Lobster, Salmon & Crab w/ Shellfish Bisque Sauce, foaming, and Haricot Verts.

  • Seared Fois Gras & Newborn Potatoes

  • Sliced Duck Breast over Braised Cabbage, Creamy Polenta and Orange Marmalade Sauce.

  • Dessert - French Macaroon, Homemade Ice Cream over Cookie Crumbles, Fudge and Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie Slices

Chi Dining Lounge, Post Ave., Westbury

     I wish I could say that Chi Dining Lounge (the upscale term for restaurant and bar) was new, but it is not and I do not know why I was unaware of its existence considering that it opened six years ago!  I worked in that area, often drove up and down Post Avenue, and never noticed.  So I asked our waiter how long they had been open, expecting him to say 6 months, not six years.  Was it a secret?  Why didn't anyone tell me?  Hmm... Well, now the secret's out, because I'm going to tell you, and you must pass it on!

    From the outside, Chi is an unobtrusive brick building that you could mistake for a big house or small office building.  They have a small parking lot with a brick wall covering most of it.  The sign is easy to miss, as it blends in with the building.  But when you park in the lot you can take a peek behind the restaurant and see smoke coming from the brick oven where they make their brick oven pizza and a lovely patio with comfortable looking cushioned chairs, sofas & small tables.  Nice.  We walked around the front and opened a large wooden door that you cannot see through and makes you think there is something special behind it.  There is.

     We walked in to the bar area (part bar, part lounge) with soft comfortable banquette sofas and chairs, curtained off from the restaurant seating area.  We were early and it was quiet.  We were greated warmly and shown to a beautiful table and when I looked around I realized what they mean when they call it a "Dining Lounge."  All the tables, the entire eating area, was beautiful, with large tables set for four, altough you could fit six at some - they were separated enough so that you did not have to listen to the details of your neighbors life.  Each table was surrounded by either a sofa or a big plush chair.  It was a restaurant full of what my son would call "comfy chairs."  There is also a section by the windows where you can sit at regular wood tables and chairs, and I'm guessing if you are with a large party, that's where you would be. 

     Our waiter arrived immediately to take our drink orders.  The bar is top of the line and the bartender does not skimp on the vodka.  Ice cold, on the rocks with lime, but not all ice.  I know this because, 1. I know my vodkas, and 2. I had to literally look for the stairs when we left!  The menu offers a large selection of just about everything.  Chi claims to be "eclectic assembly of Asian hits, Italian favorites, steaks and chops that are often labeled New American."  I hate that lable, New American.  But the menu does back up that claim.  You can choose from an array of appetizers from a raw bar to sushi to spring rolls or empanadas.  We had the "All Night Tuna," a plate of miniature tuna tacos, seared tuna and a chopped tuna sashimi over a seaweed salad and sushi rice, served with chopsticks and the usual accompaniments of soy sauce, ginger, wasabi, and some other asian treats.  It was fantastic.  They also have a nice selection of handmade brick oven pizzas, personal size, which you can order for one as dinner or to share as an appetizer.  The choice of entrees was also long and varied from a list of specialty pasta dishes, seafood and steaks and some seriously enticing chef's specialties.  We shared the Shrimp Diavolo, and though it wouldn't have been my first choice, I would go back and have it again.  I don't know how he did it, but that crust stayed hot and crispy the whole time it was on the table.  The Diavolo sauce was light and fresh, spicy but not so much that you would stop eating it, and the shrimp was chopped nicely but not minced and was not a bit over-cooked.  It was perfect and I don't even like fra diavolo. 

     So, for my main course I orderd the Shrimp & Scallop Risotto w/ Saffron Cream Sauce, with trepidation because risotto is my favorite and you never know how it will turn out.  Well, it turned out perfect.  The saffron sauce was the most delicious I have ever eaten, even better than the French restaurant I told you about earlier in the summer.  The aroma itself was almost enough and you could actually see the little threads of precious saffron in the sauce.  This was no fake.  The rice was cooked just right, as were the jumbo shrimp and sea scallops, which melted in your mouth.  Oh, and there were pieces of shrimp in the risotto also.  Simply risotto heaven.  My husband ordered the Panko Tuna.  Not just any old seared tuna, but yellow fin tuna encrusted in panko bread crumbs, wrapped in seaweed, with avocado, served with wasabi, mashed potatoes & fresh peas in an Asian bbq sauce.  It was beautiful and delicious. 

      Oh, and the best surprise - Friday is Happy Hour at the bar from 5 - 7pm, drinks and bar food half price.  If you check with them or on line, there are a number of promotions during the week also.  We got there when it was quiet about 5, but the music started around 6ish and the vibe is fun, sophisticated, but not stuffy.  The restaurant is beautiful, the people are friendly, and this is a must try, and a must go back!  One glance at the photos and you will know why. 

      

Dec. 23, 2012

GET TO CHI FOR THE HOLIDAYS

Update at CHI DINING LOUNGE: Get over there this holiday season!!! I have been looking forward to going back since my last visit in the Spring. If you want an evening of fantastic food and lots of fun, this is the place. You can hang at the bar and choose from a fantastic array of bar menu foods; or eat a few steps up in the dining lounge, where you will be so comfortable you won't want to leave. This time I knew to just order off the Apps and Bar Menu: Kung Pao Calamari, Tuna Sushi 3 Ways, Duck Spring Rolls. Then their fantastic shrimp & scallop wraps and, if that wasn't enough, a brick oven pie with prosciutto & arugula. Can't wait to go back. Thanks Chi for a lovely evening, as always.

  • Brick Oven Pizza Fra Diavolo.

  • Panko Tuna w/ Wasabi Potato

  • Shrimp & Scallop Risotto

NO MORE "SUGAR"

Jan. 1, 2015

The Supper Club at LOVE, formerly know as "Sugar" or Love Nightclub

"SUGAR," which was one of my favorite new clubs on LI a couple of years ago seems to have melted away, and with it the wonderful service and multi-generational crowd it attracted. Now called LOVE Nightclub, dining has taken a backseat to the nightclub, segmented into "The Supper Club at Love. Although I have not been there, I can report only mixed reviews. Let me know what you think!

Sugar Dining Den & & Social Club, Carle Place NY

     Its been just about 2 years now since The Sugar Den opened where the old Ciao Baby closed, on Voice Road in Carle Place, and all I can say is, Wow.  I can't believe it took me this long to get there!  The concept is phenomenal, somewere more than Tapas but less than a full Dinner.  But you can make it a full dining experience, that's for sure.  Now, I have to say one thing at the outset.  If you go for one thing, if you have a tiny appetite and can only it a little bit, order a drink and dessert.  Take a look at the photo to the right here.  That's dessert, they only have one and this is it, certainly enough for more than 1 person, and enough to make a meal all by itself.  Every bit was delicious. I'm still dreaming of it, and I have half of it in my fridge.  Not for long. 

     There is more to the Concept of Sugar than meets the eye, and when you walk in you know you're in for something different.  Its huge domed ceiling, partially covered with velvet, banquets against the walls, filled with a mulit-color lighted forrest, surrounding a gigantic dance floor filled with more tables, two full bars, front & back, specially lit in case you can't find them in the dark.  Dinner is served 5 - 11, and at 11, the tables are put away, and Sugar becomes a dance club.  You have to see it to believe it.  We didn't stay that late, but it was lovely to sit and relax, enjoy the upbeat music and ambiance, while course after course of excellent sharable food was being brought to the table.  Oh, and they have a great selection of Vodka, and a decent wine list.

     Now back to the food, as you will see below, the food is a step above tapas in size, the portions are shareable for 3 - 4 people, sometimes more, and they tell you on the menu.  If there is only 2 of you, like with us, 4 different items is sufficient.  But since we were tasting, of course we ended up w/ 6 and a side of fries.  You have to see it in the pictures below.  But first, I want to make mention of the staff.  The waitstaff is efficient, helpful, friendly & knowledgeable.  They're there when you need them, or they'll let you sit and relax.  Dinner was not rushed, the food was brought over one or 2 at a time so we were not overwhelmed and nothing was crammed on the table, the bar tender knew what he was doing, the host & hostess was present and available.  This is a must go again and try the other menu items kind of place.  We were pleasantly surprised.

 

  • Hand Cut Fries & Seasoned Tuna Tartar w/ Avocado Cream and Zesty Lime sauces

    We started with the Tuna Tartar, on of my favorites, not my husbands. But by the time we were done, I couldn't keep his hands out of it. The fresh fried crisy wonton crisps were light as air, the tuna delicately seasoned, and the sauces melded perfect, one soft and creamy, the other with a vinegary tang. The fries - they speak for them selves. They are a side dish, a bargain at $7.00, and they were gone by the end of dinner.

  • Chicken Quesadillas (veggie & shrimp dumplings in the background)

    This had to be the best quesadilla I have ever had, anywhere. Shredded chicken that didn't fall out when you picked up your slice, and you could pick up a slice because it was properly crispy on the outside, and the inside filled with a combination of cheeses I can't name, but I can still taste the melty goodness. 2 dipping sauces, one creamy and one salsa went perfectly, but you didn't need them.
    There were also dumplings, steamed shrimp and fried veggie. Both very good, again with different sauces, one sweet & sour, one garlic sauces. The sauces here are great. The dumplings were good, but to be honest as good as you can get anywhere.

  • Beef Short Ribs Tacos - come on a platter with hot steaming soft taco shells to make your own! How fun is that!! Crabcakes came after that.

    Short Rib Tacos - make your own. I love this idea. It all comes out on a hot sectioned plate, with a whole bunch of steaming quesadillas, melt in your mouth short ribs, salsa and guacamole. You can pick and choose what you want and make them just when you're ready to eat them. Another great idea with good food and good execution.
    We also ordered the crabcakes. Seasoned and tasty, but more filling than crab. I swear, that was my only complaint - especially after I saw that dessert!

UPDATE: RESTAURANT CLOSED

Jun. 11, 2013

Kodiak's Restaurant, Bar and Grill has Closed (review below)

Kodiak's had been closed since March and work crews were performing what we hoped was a face-lift and renovations; however, it was not to be. They have closed their doors for good. The Main Event, a similar type eatery, owned by the same organization that also has a long established restaurant of the same name on Old Country Road in Plainview. If this location is as good as the Plainview one was, we'll be in for a treat. With even more televisions and a sports theme, it should become popular quickly. Thanks for the good times Kodiaks! Reviews of The Main Event to follow shortly.