Bar Louie detonates where Chuck E. Cheese’s imploded.
You could call it a draw.
This Bar Louie is Long Island’s first from the 100-plus restaurant chain. It’s as targeted as its predecessor, just aimed at another audience.
And the food usually comes in second.
In the entryway of Commack’s Bar Louie is a black-and-white photo of Frank, Dino and Sammy, tuxedoed in the shank of the night at their Rat Pack peak. If you think they suit Bar Louie, expect Peter Lawford and Joey Bishop to be ordering gin martinis at Friendly’s.
Not that Bar Louis is short on drinks. The local and national beer list is very good, as are the wines from Kim Crawford, Ruffino, Rodney Strong and Joel Gott. The cocktails easily could fill the 180-minute happy hour — even if one of the martinis does include toasted marshmallow syrup.
The emphasis here is on “bar.” On a recent Saturday night: jammed even more than the rest of the sprawling joint. A blank-stared maitresse d’ checks her screen and advises by rote that the wait will be 45 minutes to an hour. Expect another hour before appetizers materialize.
Late on a weekday night, however, you could be departing in half the time, assuming you get the attention of a passing waiter since there may be no official greeter.
That upbeat server may say to take a seat at any empty table. The more comfortable ones are south of the bar, as are coveted dining areas with cushier chairs and sofas. The big TVs are visible to all. Likewise, an energized social scene attuned to millennials, boomers, groups and Margaritas.
Sufficiently stimulated, have a beer, maybe Oceanside’s excellent Barrier Money IPA, Greenport’s full-bodied Black Duck Porter or Long Ireland’s easy-drinking Celtic Ale. Go off-island with Ballast Sculpin IPA, Lagunitas Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ Ale, or Southern Tier 2XIPA.
Pick the good, oversize Bavarian pretzel sticks and the satisfactory chicken Parm sliders. Avoid under-seasoned meatballs al forno, dry beef brisket sliders and flavor-free sesame chicken wraps.
Skip the acid-test Buffalo chicken flatbread and the burgers, which, whether ordered rare or medium-rare, still show up grayer than Glasgow. Tater Tots abound, befitting a chain that hosts a TT-eating contest. They reach you as lukewarm, pasty spud duds.
Instead, select the fresh, “chop chop” salad or the BLT wedge; the tasty California chicken club sandwich with avocado and pepper jack cheese, or the BLTT, which adds turkey and Cheddar to smoked bacon, lettuce and tomato. The sesame tuna sandwich also is a respectable choice, along with the pork “street tacos.”
But you could peel the batter from “drunken” and dull fish and chips in a single flip. “Voodoo chicken,” blackened and finished with andouille, peppers, rice and a sauce to mask all, should come with pins instead of knife and fork.
Your check may arrive before you inquire about dessert.
It’s the perfect nightcap.