Left Coast Kitchen & Cocktails
1810 Merrick Rd. Merrick, NY 516-868-5338
At first glance, one might assume that this was just a neighborhood bar; the first space in is a taproom set with wooden benches under round brass lighting fixtures. However, in reality this is a gastropub - as the kitchen puts great detail into its menu of both classic and new American offerings. For example, there's no challenge in grabbing a salad -- but in this Merrick venue the options include a "Grilled Chicken Waldorf" (apples, walnuts, golden raisins, honey dressing) and the "Asian Two Tuna" (spinach, chickpeas, oranges, soy vinaigrette). Entrées of steak and sea scallops are done with flair, but the opportunities really break from the norm with twists like the "Slurpy Noodles" (in broth with poached egg, prawns, pork, siracha chile sauce) and pappardelle pasta placed in lamb ragu, braised shallots and ricotta cheese...but don't let all this well-crafted food fool you: late at night the jukebox blasts and this space is all about nightlife, serving a good number of unusual and craft beers, in addition to many red and white wines.Hours: Dinner every day, from 4 to 10 p.m. Sunday to Wednesday, and to 11 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Reservations for larger groups, or call for priority. Ambience: Very Good Service: Very Good Reservations: Accepted Credit cards: Accepted
Left Coast Kitchen is all right. Fresh, casual, packed, the new gastro pub delivers rousing food and drink, with a big side order of fun. Chris Randell, formerly of City Cellar in Westbury and points farther west, is the in-motion force behind this friendly, noisy joint. You'll see him in the almost-open kitchen, maybe interrupting his cooking to offer a nearby couple the mini-bucket of popcorn that subs for a bread basket, perhaps doing double-duty as a waiter, always surveying everything. Maitresse d' Heather Randell genially oversees the crowded bar and dining room, a retooled space crowned by a tin ceiling. Their restaurant, openhanded and attitude-free, unpretentious and full-flavored, attracts any diner looking for a good time and food to match.
Chef Randell prepares a first-class lobster roll, deftly seasoned and generous, with fine slaw and even better chips. His juicy, root beer-glazed pork tenderloin arrives with a spin on creamed corn and a mint-spiked riff on sauerkraut. The "more long than short" rib, gently braised, shows up with a "loaded deep fried" baked potato. Yes, you guessed what's in it. And there's a fibrous, fine grilled strip steak, flanked by the balanced duo of arugula and onion rings. In case things turn too healthful, order the knockout mesquite-maple, sweet potato version of Tater Tots; and the mercilessly addictive good cheese fries accented with rounds of jalapeño pepper. Before you get this far, consider the Buffalo-style chicken-and-shrimp satay, finished with buttermilk dressing and crumbled blue cheese. Add hot peppers, anchovies and garlic chips to Caesar salad, and you have The Brutus. End with the orange bread pudding, roasted pineapple on cinnamon French toast with crème fraîche, or a homey tropical-fruit crisp. Well-chosen brews on tap and wines by the glass and bottle.
Mild French onion chowder, "1/2 chowder, 1/2 onion soup." Shrimp-and-lobster stuffed haddock overdoes it. Satisfactory crab cake. Heavy-duty spicy beef taco.
THE BOTTOM LINE