The Phoenix, Seaford: Chef's night off debacle

Crusted tuna with risotto at The Phoenix in Crusted tuna with risotto at The Phoenix in Seaford Photo Credit:

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Feed Me

The dish on Long Island's restaurant and food scene.

Back in April, The Phoenix in Seaford earned a three-star rating in Newsday. A recent chef change, however, motivated a return visit. And a sense of loss. For the food here was certainly not what it once was.

True, I returned on a night when I later learned chef Scott Zachman was not in the house. But that shouldn't have made a difference.

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Spicy peanut soup ($6) remained a favorite, although it was no longer as nuanced, nor as rife with grapes and pumpkin seeds as before. Chicken noodle soup ($6), though, went from a ginger- and lemon-infused inspiration with shredded poultry and fresh lo mein noodles to a bland, thick potage with dry nuggets of white meat. Only the noodles seemed close to what they were.

From the small-plates menu came butter-poached octopus with roasted garlic edamame and charred lemon ($8); it was a harshly garlicky plate of food. Clam cakes ($6) in a soupy veloute were hard as armor on the outside, mushy within. Best were crunchy, compelling chick pea fries ($6) with lemon garlic aioli.

A main course of  crusted tuna ($17) with lime risotto featured a few slices of cold fish lined up on top of a big bowl filled with what was actually very good risotto. Mac-and-cheese-stuffed meat loaf ($18) couldnt be cut with a fork. The meat was dry, the stuffing lukewarm, pasty. Truffled mashed potatoes: cool and mealy.

Co-owner Peter Mangouranes said a new menu is being launched shortly. Whether The Phoenix, like the bird for which it was named, can rise again remains to be seen.

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The Phoenix is at 3915 Merrick Rd., Seaford, 516-809-9693.

Above: Crusted tuna with lime risotto at The Phoenix in Seaford

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