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Chef at the helm

Gastronomos | | Mar 27, 2013 09:53 AM

I don't know if this has been discussed before here on Long Island, so I apologize if it has.
I have been a little flummoxed by the number of restaurants here on Long Island that claim to have a culinary schooled chef at the helm when the majority of menu offerings don’t take much ‘chef’ skill to prepare. Please, don’t get me wrong, I’m sure it is a very difficult and demanding job to be a kitchen manager, and a line cook and any job in the back and front of the house, but the majority of places I’ve been recently on Long Island, both high and low end seem to serve apologies and lack those dishes that make a chef a chef. By apologies I mean, like many chefs claim, “you have to have the requisite steak, fried calamari, sliders, etc. on the menu and at the bottom of the menu, maybe one or two dishes you are able to squeeze in as a true chef.”
Sourcing high end ingredients is a good start, and usually an unnecessary one, and it usually ends there.
In my travels I occasionally encounter a place or two in an unassuming place that will wow me by the chef at the helm. It may not be a chowhound destination, but the chef is actually cooking back there. It may just well be that one dish at the bottom of the menu. And, well, for Long Island, I’ll gladly take it.
The braised short rib, steaks, burgers, anything off the grill or under the broiler, anything deep fried, tuna tartare, flatbreads, mussels, risottos, pan seared and roasted whatever, and salads etc. are for the other (skilled) cooks in the kitchen to prepare. And for me to glance over and avoid.
Perhaps anything other than a plain piece of protein with a side of whatever is what I’m looking for.
I’m looking for that dish that has to be made by the chef or it’s not on the menu.

What restaurants on Long Island do you find the chef at the helm actually doing his or her thing?

P.S. This isn’t about ethnic restaurants. So sushi and Asian in general don’t fit the above. :-)