The dish on Long Island's restaurant and food scene.
At almost 20 years old, R.S. Jones in Merrick is still high on the popularity charts. At least that's the way it looked the evening I stopped for dinner at the country-Western-themed spot. A live band was playing to a full house — a combination that can make it hard to hear yourself think.
I know, from past experience, what chef Carole Olkoski is capable of. Even so, I found myself wanting more oomph in some dishes. A cup of the gumbo du jour ($4.25), which had chicken, rice and vegetables, was thick and hearty, but it was hard to distinguish much difference in flavor between that and the vegetable chili ($3.95). Both were assertively tomato-y, like V-8 juice. Barbecued chicken ($18.95), while not deeply smoky, was good and savory, accompanied by ultrarich mashed potatoes, collard greens and corn. Biscuits, served with a cream gravy ($3.95), were curiously flat in shape. Even so, they were nearly, if not quite, as light and flaky as remembered.
R.S. Jones is at 153 Merrick Ave., Merrick, 516-378-7177.
Above: Barbecued chicken with mashed potatoes at R.S. Jones in Merrick