The dish on Long Island's restaurant and food scene.
Dinner last week at Two Steak & Sushi, the sumptuous, sprawling restaurant-bar-lounge-event space in New Hyde Park. Two opened to great fanfare last March, got 3½ stars from Newsday's Peter Gianotti and ranked second on his 2010 top-ten-restaurants list.
On a Wednesday night, Two was about half full. Managing partner Jay Grossman told me that weeknights are tough. “The reality on Long Island is that everyone wants to eat at eight o’clock on Saturday night,” he said, sounding a familiar restaurateur's lament. Accepting this reality, Grossman decided last week to close the restaurant on Mondays, and to discontinue lunch.
Two launched with a very ambitious culinary program, and a huge menu. “Steak and sushi” was really the tip of the iceberg. The meats were—and continue to be—carefully sourced from small-scale ranches and farms. Starters drew from both classic steakhouse, New American and Japanese influences. A separate Asian-inflected menu offered sushi and sashimi a la carte, omakase chef’s tasting menus, and yakitori, bamboo-skewered tidbits cooked to order on a custom-made yakitori grill.
Ten months into its run, the menu has been streamlined, the yakitori selections greatly reduced. Grossman and chef-partner James McDevitt remain committed to sustainably raised meats, but wonder if all of their customers appreciate the effort.
I’ve praised Two loudly and often. (Unlike Gianotti, I do not dine at Two anonymously; I know the partners.) Last week was the first time I’d been there since June. McDevitt’s kitchen was still firing on all cylinders: Caesar salad, roast chicken, filet mignon, crispy Brussels sprouts and roasted wild mushrooms were all impeccable. So was the freshly made tandoori naan that Two sends out instead of conventional bread.
After my meal, I thought about those empty tables and wondered why Two couldn't be one of the rare local restaurants that bucks the weak-weekday trend. It’s true that Two opened into the teeth of a recession, and in a location, just east of Long Island Jewish Medical Center, that had no fine-dining tradition. But it’s also true that the restaurant is one of Long Island’s best and is situated within 15 minutes of the homes of thousands of millionaires. Sometimes I wonder if Two’s physical splendor sends diners the message that it values style over substance. I wonder if McDevitt were cooking the same food in a smaller, more earnest venue—with exposed brick and handwritten menus—that he’d have more customers.
Two is at 1270 Union Tpke., New Hyde Park, 516-358-2222.