One of our favorite non-fast food fast food joints has to be Chiptole. Known for their fresh cuisine that is cooked in front of you (there’s no bag opening here), they’ve been growing steadily over the past few years. If you’ve wanted some in western Nassau County, you’ve had to travel to either Carle Place or Uniondale, which for some can prove to be quite inconvenient. Starting December 15th that all changes. The newest location to open its’ doors is located in Great Neck at 44 Great Neck Rd.
Inventive New American Cuisine is not something that we’re seeing a lot of these days on Long Island. To sit down to a meal and be so content by what you’ve just eaten is almost falling off the map. That’s why when we were done with our meal at 388 New American Cuisine for a recent television shoot we were not only stuffed, but entranced by this new spot’s take on classic dishes.
By Dina Shingleton, Suffolk County Correspondent
Looking for a great place to throw your toddler’s birthday party? Look no further than My Gym in West Babylon. This past Saturday my daughter celebrated her 2nd birthday with 15 of her closest friends ranging in age from 1 to 6. The hour and a half party includes having the entire facility available exclusively to your party with staff. Tablecloths, napkins, balloons, forks, plates, invites, and thank you cards are also included with the price. The only thing we had to bring the day of the party was cupcakes, juice boxes, and pizza (and to make the party SUPER easy, there is a pizza place right next door.)
The facility was super clean (they should open a cleaning service) and the staff was super friendly. The party was tightly run with just the right amount of activities, songs, circle time, and free play. I was amazed that the staff got 15 kids to sit around a table and eat pizza and cupcakes without incident! But the best part of the party? Going home with a happy two-year old and not having to clean up after 15 kids!
My Gym also offers classes based on age. After my experience with the birthday party, I am definitely looking into enrolling my daughter because I know she’d love it! 631-669-4043
By Dina Shingleton, Suffolk County Correspondent
A beautiful day with nothing planned! What could be more intimidating for the parents of a toddler? Determined to savor the last few weekends of autumn before the weather turns too cold, my husband, daughter, and I made the 50+ mile drive out to Mattituck to check out Harbes Family Farm. We decided upon Harbes as it met a few of our last-minute requirements: u-pick pumpkins, hay ride, and petting zoo.
The Harbes Family actually have three locations to choose from, but the Mattituck location on Sound Avenue fulfilled all three of our day-trip requirements and then some. A concession offered roasted sweet corn, fresh squeezed lemonade, candy apples, and other autumnal treats. The sprawling farm stand had a variety of fresh produce, seasonal flowers, cheeses, jams, and pumpkins for sale (just in case you didn’t want to brave the pumpkin patch).
The hay ride was adorable and featured Farmer Stan, a bona fide, 81-year-old retired farmer, schooling us “city-folk” on the ins-and-outs of Long Island farm culture. A banjo player entertained the kids with folk renditions of children’s songs; he even had the adults clapping and stomping along. Sheep, goats, and chickens waited patiently in the petting zoo; the nearby concession stand had bags of feed available for $2.00. My daughter got a real kick passing bits of feed through the fence to the sheep and goats.
After the hay ride and petting zoo, our daughter played in the play area with the other children. Although not large, it has an adorable wooden tractor with slide off the back. All the kids got a real kick out of it, and were very patient waiting their turn to go down the slide, even my almost 2 year old!
Too tired out from the play area, we decided to purchase a pumpkin from the farm stand rather than force march our daughter through the fields in search of the perfect pumpkin. The stand had plenty of pumpkins to choose from and we settled on a 22 pounder for our front porch!
The leaves are just starting to turn out East, which made the scenery extra pretty! If you haven’t gotten your pumpkin yet, I highly recommend a trip to Harbes’ farm. If you’re sans children, you can check out the Wine Barn (we, sadly, didn’t get to) and also check out Martha Clara Vineyard which is nearby.
By Dina Shingleton, Suffolk County Correspondent
What’s better than a sushi restaurant opening within walking distance of your house? A sushi restaurant that actually serves decent sushi, with attentive staff, and trendy atmosphere within walking distance to your house!
OK, so maybe Liki Sushi in Amityville isn’t within walking distance for everyone, but ample parking and it’s location on Merrick Rd make it the perfect go-to spot for a bite after work when you’re too tired to cook.
Last night my husband, two year old daughter (yes, they’re kid friendly too), and I sat down in a private booth with beaded curtains and chowed down. We started out with the Jalapeno Yellowtail appetizer. Certainly a nod to the famed dish at Nobu, it was just spicy enough without going overboard. The yellowtail was just slightly too thick, but maybe I’m used to the paper thin shavings at Nobu that seem to melt away. Of course, Liki doesn’t charge Nobu prices, so to hold them up to that standard is probably unfair.
We ordered Edamame as well, mainly for Maddie (our two year old). If you haven’t yet given some to your little one, give it a try! Maddie pops ’em like candy! A miso soup and a bowl of white rice rounded up Maddie’s meal. We dump about half the rice into the soup and let her have at it. She thinks it is delicious, and we’re happy to oblige!
The husband and I tried some sushi rolls. I had the Fire Dragon Roll (spicy tuna, cucumber on top with tuna, avocado, and spicy wasabi sauce) and a Negi Hamachi roll (yellowtail and scallion). The Fire Dragon Roll was done well. Not too much rice, excellent texture, and not too cold (I don’t like eating ice cold sushi). My only complaint was that for a roll called Fire Dragon it didn’t seem that spicy. Fire Dragon is a pretty dramatic name, and I was expecting dramatic spice. It fell a bit flat, but nothing extra wasabi couldn’t solve.
My husband had the standard spicy tuna roll and a Boston roll. He said both were rather tasty. I tried his spicy tuna and thought it lacked spice, but he didn’t agree, so maybe I was just having a bad taste bud day.
All in all I think Liki Sushi is a great go-to sushi spot. I know we’ll certainly be back either to dine-in or to take-out.
I recently met a friend for breakfast in Port Jefferson at Toast. I had been wanting to visit here since I learned the owner was someone that I had once worked with at a restaurant way back when where I was the chef and he was a young busboy. Needless to say he’s all grown up now. Terry and his wife Jennifer run this a great little spot that serves as a coffee house offering creative breakfast and lunch items and then transforms into a Wine and Tapas bar on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings. Opened now for 6 years it has a young vibe with and energetic staff, their daughter Sienna was enjoying breakfast at the counter herself, so you know the kids are happy here too.
I chose a feather light whole wheat waffle with fresh blueberries, bananas and a sprinkling of powdered sugar and yes real maple syrup!! Yum. While my friend did her best to make a dent in her special of the day, an overstuffed omelet with turkey, asparagus and a jalapeno cheese, crispy browned potatoes and thick toast topped off the plate along with what appeared to be a homemade salsa. Steamy hot mugs of bottomless coffee and we were all set. Breakfast is a mix of interesting french toast, pancakes and waffle and omelets. While lunch is an offering of salads, burgers, wraps and not your ordinary sandwiches. Three evenings a week tapas and wine are a popular addition. Take advantage of the fact that now that the summer is over; the streets are a little less crowded, you can find a parking spot and then walk off your indulgences while enjoying this waterfront village.
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By Stacey McDevitt, Suffolk County Correspondent
As much as I love my career as a private chef, there are times after cooking numerous meals for 7 different palates that I just crave something quick and simple for lunch. So on one of my travels to and fro Suffolk to Nassau I discovered this great little spot. Hummus World, located near the train station in Roslyn Heights is such a find. It’s a postage stamp size of a place with a husband and wife team that keeps things interesting. She’s the cook and he’s the personality behind the register, that if you ask nicely he’ll let you try the sour pickles. On any given day there is a mixed clientele of students from the high school up the street, to businessmen and locals. And the occasional adventurist like me.
Let me first start off by saying I love falafel, but these are no ordinary ones. These crispy chickpea critters are flecked with coriander seeds and green tinted from parsley. But it is also what is stuffed into the pita that makes them special. Weighing in at a pound and a half, yes I actually weighed it, I had to sit was so heavy. Is a mix of the smoothest hummus, crunchy carrot and red cabbage lightly pickled, an "Israeli Salad" of tomatoes and cucumber, topped off with homemade hot sauce if you like and believe me, me like!! There’s also a sampling of vegetarian appetizers like eggplant baba ghanoush or platters with chicken shwarma, a highly spiced kosher chicken cooked on a spit much like a gyro. Then shaved off in tender slices. There’s also homemade soups "depending on Esters mood" as the menu reads, but its an experience just to dine here, if there’s a table inside grab it or a spot outside under the umbrellas or if you have time take it to go and head for a nearby park in Roslyn and enjoy the view. Anyway you choose it’s a tasty spot for a delicious bite to eat.
When I first moved out west to attend culinary school some 15 years ago, I knew there would be things I would miss about New York. Family and friends were a given. A real bagel, the pizza, and an authentic New York deli. These experiences would be few and far between in my new home. A requirement of anyone coming to visit me from back east was to smuggle me in the goods on the plane, I would greet them like a junkie with a did you bring the bagels? But I would also miss my list of restaurants that I had developed over the years of living on Long Island the places I loved and were unique to the area, a foodie bucket list if you will. From Manhattan to Montauk, and everywhere in between these little hole in the wall, Mom and Pop type places are not necessarily fancy. I’ve have a separate list for that, I like to call it the when I hit the Lotto list. But they were darn good at what they did and they did it well.
One such place was Maureen’s Kitchen in Smithtown. When I first visited this little place a long long time ago. It was across the street from its present location and quite a bit smaller then it is now. It maybe had a few stools and couple of booths/tables. And who do you think was behind the counter running the show, you guessed it Maureen. Imagine my surprise when I recently moved back to New York and went to see if they were still in business. Well they were all grown up and had moved out too, even if it was just across the street. Neither of us got too far from where we originally started, did we?!
Maureen Dernbach, her family and the friendly and efficient hard-working crew made this place a winner. This location has an open and airy feel to it, like an old farmhouse, complete with a screened in porch. You feel like you’re upstate somewhere, oh did I mention the cow motif? Kind of kitschy but very fitting, considering the town of Smithtown is named after a guy named Mr. Smith who rode through town on a bull, and there’s even a statue of the bull in town to prove it. Well there’s cows out in front of Maureen’s Kitchen too so you can’t miss it.
But it’s what inside this jewel that makes them line up out the door on most days, and let me tell you it’s worth every minute. Meanwhile you can admire the glass enclosed cow print Harley Davidson motorcycle while you wait. But don’t wait to order the specialty pancakes and were not talking just any old pancakes were talking WOW. Pumpkin, mini chocolate chip and walnut, a crushed Oreo version, very popular with the little people and everything in between with orange, fresh blueberry, raspberry and strawberry, the list goes on and on. There are also the delicious over stuffed omelets, freshly griddled home fries, real bacon, thick sausage links, and eggs every which way. And a thick cut delicious looking raspberry stuffed French toast with a dusting of powdered sugar. I know they do a wonderful lunch too, with homemade soups, sandwiches and gigantic decadent looking desserts too, but to be honest I can never get past the pancakes they are my weakness. I must admit I’m a real big breakfast lover. I look forward to it from the minute I wake up. Along with a steaming hot cup of coffee and a copy of the New York Times I ask you does it get any better then this?! So I recommend that you get there early, read the paper while you wait, make sure you’re hungry and I can guarantee you’ll leave feeling happy and as stuffed as the cows out front. 631-360-9227