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LI Restaurants with Manhattan feel?

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For better or for worse, Manhattan restaurants have a certain feel about them. The buzz, the service, the thought into menus. Are there any restauarants in the Nassau/Suffolk area that have that Manhattan feel to them. I can only think of a few, just wondering if there are any others.

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  1. Just off the top of my head, and in Huntington alone:

    Besito
    Prime
    Red
    Honu (though I haven't yet been to the new version
    Cassis
    Mac's steakhouse
    Four (Melville, actually)

    I'm sure there are others.

    1. Further out,but Northfork Table and Inn beats most, if not all, of Manhattan

      7 Replies
      1. re: Delucacheesemonger

        Agreed. I had a fabulous meal here. Though imo the vibe is not so much "Manhattan" as it is country inn with some classic touches.

        To me the "Manhattan" feel has to do with the clientele of Manhattan restaurnats being mostly comprised of ...you guessed it....Manhattanites. One place that does come to mind is Tellers in Islip and another Annona in Westhampton.

        1. re: jenniebnyc

          There is also Cippolini and possibly Toku (although I haven't been there yet) in the Americana in Manhasset.

          1. re: jenniebnyc

            I agree with you with your definition of "Manhattan" feel. That's why I don't think any of the restaurants in Long Island, or the suburbs in general, feel "Manhattan." Though there are plenty of nice suburban restaurants, when I want Manhattan, I go into the city.

            Cippolini is totally far from "Manhattan" to me. In my opinion, the scene there is about as "Long Island" as one can get.

            1. re: Shawn

              I couldn't agree more about Cippolini, it's face-lift central, very obnoxious people and so loud. I went there once for an event and wouldn't go back.

          2. re: Delucacheesemonger

            Can you honestly speak of NF table in the same breath as Cru and Eleven Madison, Robouchon, Babbo and others who define dining for the country?!!

            1. re: howund09

              Yep.

              1. re: howund09

                North Fork's chef, Gerry Hayden, ran the kitchen at Aureole and then Amuse after stints at River Cafe and Park Avenue Cafe, among other restaurants. His wife, pastry chef Claudia Flemming, is one of the top pastry chefs in the country, having developed and run the pastry kitchen at Gramercy Tavern and published the book "The Last Course." She's one of the most influential pastry chefs of the last two decades.

                Now they are cooking in Southold. I'd rather eat at North Fork Table than Eleven Madison.

            2. In responding to my own post...as I never really gave my opinion:

              I have to agree with phofiend, feel like this most urban-style restaurants have sprung up in the Huntington area, as well as Garden City.

              I have been taken aback by these few:

              Honu Kitchen & Cocktails
              Four Food Studio
              Novita
              and above and beyond the most Manhattan-style restauarant: Prime in Huntington (I guess that has to do with their executive chef coming from Montrachet!).

              6 Replies
              1. re: foodieforthought

                Have dined at Prime two times and I have to say I think the food is overrated and over-priced. What dish or dishes did you enjoy? Maybe I missed something good....

                1. re: Siobhan

                  Agreed.

                  1. re: Siobhan

                    I took my husband there for his birthday this summer. We felt the same way as you - over-priced and overrated. We also felt that for the prices the service lacked. The waiter was constantly "selling" what other tables were ordering, recommending meat even when I said I didn't want to eat meat (plenty of fish on the menu)...lacking the finer service that we'd expect for the prices. While the steak was good, we felt the sushi lobster dish we ordered lacked taste and lacked lobster(!). There's too much competition with steakhouses for us to return. We do enjoy having a drink on their deck, though.

                    1. re: Siobhan

                      I think too many people go in there with the preconception that it is a steakhouse. Which it is not. Every time I've been there, the service has been stellar and the food, drink, and atmosphere to match. I will concede it is not the most value-oriented restaurant on Long Island..but in regards to this thread, most Manhattan restaurants aren't either!

                      I think its a dining experience one can't really get on long island. It's a much more sensual experience with a lot of thought and sophistication in their menu.

                      Besides, I was just there recently (i.e., this week), and they are changing their menu for the fall. It looks REALLY good. I tried their play on the "wellington"...filet mignon, wrapped in spinach, then wrapped in filo dough, roasted, with triple-cream brie cheese in the center of the filet. it was amazing!

                      1. re: foodieforthought

                        But which dish on the regular menu did you enjoy? What was "sensual"? I went there knowing it was not a steak place, and not "value-oriented". I'll pay for something outstanding happily. The level of service was merely o.k. - we waited about 1.5 hours for our entrees on a Sunday - with no apologies - and the dishes were only o.k. - e.g. miso-glazed cod or trinity of lamb.

                        What specific dish could I try? You seem passionate so maybe I missed something....

                        BTW, agree with synergy - have a drink at the bar and go eat somewhere else.

                        1. re: Siobhan

                          I agree with you about Prime. I've eaten there twice and was underwhelmed both times. The service does not at all live up to this place's pretensions, and the food is nothing special. I wouldn't mind paying these prices for really good food, but I think what you're paying for at Prime is the view.

                          I moved to Huntington from Brooklyn a couple of months ago and haven't been thrilled with any restaurants yet. We liked Honu on a Tuesday night but went back on a Saturday and couldn't deal with the noise and the pick-up scene.

                  2. To be honest I can't think of a single one. When I hear a suburban restaurant touting themselves as having a Manhattan vibe I just feel embarrassed for them.

                    Come up with your own menu, atmosphere and style instead of trying to replicate something that just can't be done.

                    Seriously? Prime? Honu (so over the top cheesy)? Ugh! They don't feel the least bit like dining in the city.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: CornflakeGirl

                      Cornflakegirl,

                      Your post is hysterical and spot on!

                      The second sentence is so perfect. I feel the same.

                      LI is just not Manhattan, if you want the city experience, you go into the city. Having lived in Manhattan for 12 years, I know not to expect to replicate city experiences or city people or the level of sophistication in culture, dining, or anything, for the most part, on LI. Having said that, I don't try to. I just enjoy LI for what it is--my home, beautiful landscapes, beaches, etc. But, the dining is less than what it could be, but there are some bright spots, primariliy in the form of "mom and pops", as indicated on this board. Let's patronize them and not the juggernauts like Prime, etc.

                      BTW, Waterzooi is another city "wannabe," which repulses me. The two times I was there, you literally needed a megaphone to hold a conversation, the food is outrageously overpriced and the crowd is primarily 40-something pick-up joint. Really uninspired. But, it's got a "name", so people flock to it. Most people are inherently sheep, sadly.

                      1. re: JGS

                        waterzooi is the epitomy of long island and has no semblence to anything in manhattan. if you ask the clientele, be it bar or dining room, when was the last time you were in the city, they will all tell you six months ago. for better or worse, that's why the place is full and a place like taste is empty. It's ironic that the owners of waterzooi have taken a long island concept and have done rather well with croxleys on the lower east side.

                        1. re: byrd

                          Because the LES has become very bridge and tunnel in the last couple of years. It's also working it's way into the East Village. The Meatpacking District is done!

                        2. re: JGS

                          I used to work in Garden City so I know exactly what you mean. Victory was the same way.

                          When I go out to the island I dine at places like Mediterranean Snack Bar. It's been there forever (I grew up in Huntington), has good food and doesn't try to be something it's not.

                          We were there recently to have dinner with my fiance's mother. We both cracked up when we saw the inside of Honu.

                      2. Diane's Trattoria in Roslyn is my favorite. Delicious, fresh sophisticated food in an upscale, trendy atmosphere. Other than that you have all of those steakhouses (which are steakhouse "feel", not necessarily City-ish). Haven't tried the new place in the Americana yet, but the last restaurant there was Manhattan style. Including the prices....
                        Try Diane's. You cannot go wrong.

                        1. Most of you make very good points. I have lived on Long Island for all of my 54 years. We live in western Nassau County, so a trip to the city is easy for us, but not always what we want. We have our favorites in the city, as well as on the island. There is no problem finding good food. Hopefully without the snob appeal of places like Il Mulino and Cippolinis.
                          Coolfish, Diane's, Maxxel's, West End Cafe, Stressa, Panama Hatties, Fiddleheads, just to name a few, are places that I can always count on to deliver a good meal. Kitchen a bistro, Mill River, also always deliver. Not to mention places that I haven't even tried that people are always raving about. Who has time to go to all these places?

                          1. When I think of Manhattan restaurants I think more of the authentic, even exotic, foods available than the urban flavor. After moving to Port Washington 21 years ago I found I really missed the availability of unusual cuisines. Port has had a few great restaurants over the years, but like everywhere, even Manhattan, most are cut from the same mold, and rather boring. We are in a renaissance here right now. When I set foot into Rock 'n Sake the first time I thought I was really walking into a Manhattan restaurant. Very cool, right down to the Godzilla movie projected onto the floor of the bathroom! And the food is good, too.

                            I am ever so grateful that there are more new places that are unique and delicious. Shanghai Pavillion is offering the best chinese food in the whole area. And it's not one from column A and one from column B. There are dishes I can recognize from all Chinese restaurants, and others I don't see on the Island, such as dry-sauteed eel with leeks and red-cook or szechuan style buffalo carp's tail. Most of what I have eaten there has been very good. They have a problem with service though with more people to serve than staff to do it.

                            We have two French Bistros that have been open about a year. Our favorite one is Bistro du Village. It feels much more like a City restaurant than a Port Washington one. The food is great and, while expensive, they do not have their liquor license and you can bring your own wine, therefore keeping the total cost down.

                            My favorite (somewhat) new place is in a greasy spoon, little changed from what was a Greek coffee shop for decades, called Mama's Delight. Mama cooks from her background of being both Korean and Vietnamese, and having worked in the kitchen of a Greek diner for many years. She makes a lot of vegetarian food and has many varied tofu dishes. Last night my jusband and I shared a seafood pancake and a radish dumpling stew. I haven't ever seen food like this offered before. It is healthy and satisfying in the way good home cooking is.

                            Eating in Port has gotten a lot better. We don't have to miss the City for our everyday eating forays as much as we used to.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: starny

                              I agree. The LI dining scene is getting better and better. There are a bevy of excellent places that, if in NYC, would be raved about on this board. I lived in the city, worked in the city, and used to love going into the city. Now, it makes me laugh. People rant about the B & T...got news, NYC is nothing but midwesterners and poeple with 10 other residences. Going into the city is still fun, and there are many fantastic places, but you can't deny that the burbs gets a bad rap no matter what happens.

                              There are a number of good places now in downtowns like Rockville Centre, Garden City, Huntington, Roslyn, PW, etc. I'm quite pleased with the scene out here since I've moved, and it seems to keep getting better. If this means anything, you hear of more and more chefs from top NYC kitchens working on LI. For those city lovers, that must mean something.

                              And for those that love ethnic cuisine, that is and will continue to improve and more and more immigrants, etc live on LI. You see it already in places like Hicksville.

                              So, LI people, take heart, you don't have it so bad...

                            2. I agree with the consensus regarding Prime. What a rip off meal and such small portions. I'm not part of the "ladies who lunch" crowd but this certainly is just that. If you want great food, fabulous service and a very eclectic menu go to West End Cafe in Carle Place. You certainly need not spend $200 a couple to have a good meal. WEC is half that price and the menu can't be beat. They also serve a great lunch on weekdays and a $25 three course sunset menu daily until 6 PM. This restaurant doesn't advertise and is by word of mouth only. Not to be missed!

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: debster

                                It's such a dinosaur though. Probably why they don't advertise.

                                1. re: CornflakeGirl

                                  I guess food is very subjective. Everyone we have taken to West Ebnd Cafe loves it. They present the food beautifully and the wait staff is very friendly and knowledgeable. I also love Mim's in Roslyn, food is consistently good and they aim to please. For great italian food go to Trattoria L'Incontro in Astoria and any Greek restaurant there. I agree that Besito is excellent even though I'm not a fun of Mexican food. Has anyone tried Brivo on Glen Cove Road (f/k/a L'Endroit)? That's next on my list. The chef formerly worked at Felidia in Manhattan. That's a restaurant not to be misssed!

                                2. re: debster

                                  We love West End Cafe & are regulars. Love their home made potato chips on the bar. Food is consistenly good.

                                  CornflakeGirl, why do you think it's a "dinosaur"? I don't see it that way and am curious why you do.

                                  1. re: synergy

                                    I agree, I think it's generally quite good.