The dish on Long Island's restaurant and food scene.
Chow Down Diner in Bethpage, which launched with great fanfare in February 2014, has closed with barely a whimper. But new owners have already moved in with a new name -- Diner Luxe -- and the bacon and eggs are already sizzling on the grill.
Time to backtrack for a little diner history. The building on Hempstead Turnpike, which for years housed the Bethpage Townhouse Diner, was renovated in 2013 by the Singh Hospitality group, with chef-restaurateur Tom Schaudel consulting on the project. Schaudel dropped out after ownership of the diner was transferred to Gold Coast Hospitality, headed by Ruby Singh, wife of Singh president Harendra Singh.
The gleaming retro-contemporary spot opened in February 2014 with executive chef Steven Del Lima turning out a well-edited repertoire of American classics given modern twists. By April, Del Lima had garnered two and a half stars for his savvy renditions of such dishes as matzo ball soup, mac and cheese and hefty, juicy burgers, which were served with hand-cut fries. But within a couple of months, Del Lima and Chow Down had parted ways and the place was off on a downhill trajectory.
A follow-up visit last July revealed a sloppy execution of Del Lima’s recipes and, by December, a new and encyclopedic menu was put into effect. It was the actual eating, though, that yielded the saddest news: soupy mac and cheese, tough burgers and pre-frozen fries.
Now, the just-opened Diner Luxe is so new, it doesn’t yet have a sign with its name out front. A once-over of the comprehensive menu reveals such choices as Belgian waffles, French toast and 3-egg omelets and bacon in the morning. There's a low-carb section, a “Greek corner” and rosters of wraps, salads, burgers, sandwiches and panini. Entrees include steaks and chops, seafood dishes and Italian specialties. Prices run from $5.25 for two eggs to $5.95 for a classic burger to $24.95 for a broiled rib-eye steak.
Diner Luxe is at 4011 Hempstead Tpke., Bethpage, 516-597-5310.