Smoking good in Melville
Over the past few months, Four Food Studio chef Ben Durham has been playing with a little home smoker he bought at Lowe's. He's smoking his own bacon and has experimented with almonds, tomatoes, bone-in loins of pork -- any of which might turn up on his menu as a special. His excellent smoked brisket tacos, however, have become a standard: Topped with cilantro and jalapeños, and served with coleslaw and a little syringe of hot sauce, they are $15 as a lunch main (four tacos) and $13 as a dinner appetizer (three tacos).
At a recent lunch, we enjoyed the tacos along with Durham's seasonal twist on another Four stalwart, salmon with orzo salad ($21 at lunch, $25 at dinner). For spring, the orzo is tossed with fava beans and English peas, and the salmon is sauced with a rhubarb beurre blanc.
Durham has been in charge at Four for about two years now (since chef James McDevitt decamped to Two Steak & Sushi in New Hyde Park, now K. Pacho), and he's made it one of the most consistent, dependable kitchens around.
Four Food Studio is at 515 Broadhollow Rd., Melville; 631-577-4444. -- ERICA MARCUS
Fire and ice in Smithtown
On the other side of the etched glass, you see flames shooting and hear the clanging of metal as if a sword fight is under way. But that's just the hibachi chef in action.
In the main dining area, there's the contrast of the silent sushi chefs diligently slicing and rolling. But they have some colorful stuff to showcase, too.
This is Hotoke, two restaurants in one.
The tuna pizza is one of the sushi chefs' entertainments. On a scallion pancake, they put together a topping of bluefin tuna, white tuna and onion, drizzled with tofu-wasabi aioli. And the chef's choice sushi-and-sashimi presentation includes pearly, delicate sliced scallop and buttery sea urchin, plus rolls combining tuna and asparagus; and spicy crab and mango.
Hotoke earned a two-star rating in Newsday in 2008. Next week, the restaurant is expected to unveil an updated menu with more fusion fare. Hotoke is at 41 Rte. 111, Smithtown; 631-979-9222. -- PETER M. GIANOTTI
LI wines poured at Post in Syosset
Wines from many of Long Island's top producers will be poured at a free tasting on Saturday, hosted by Post Wines & Spirits in Syosset. Winemakers Kareem Massoud of Paumanok Vineyards in Aquebogue, Eric Fry of The Lenz Winery in Peconic, and Kelly Urbanik of Macari Vineyards in Mattituck are expected to attend. There also will be wines from Wölffer Estate in Sagaponack, Channing Daughters in Bridgehampton, Bedell Cellars in Cutchogue, Castello di Borghese in Cutchogue, and Jamesport Vineyards, among others, said Post co-owner Michael Douglass.
The wine tasting is from 1 to 6 p.m. Post Wines & Spirits is at 510 Jericho Tpke., Syosset; 516-921-1820. -- PETER M. GIANOTTI