BRYANT & COOPER
2 Middle Neck Rd., Roslyn
SERVICE: Efficient, friendly, accommodating
AMBIENCE: Join the club
ESSENTIALS: Open for lunch and dinner: Monday to Thursday, noon to 10 p.m.; Friday, noon to 11 p.m.; Saturday, 5 p.m. to midnight; Sunday, 3 p.m. to 10 p.m.; wheelchair accessible; parking lot; reservations recommended weekdays, necessary weekends.
"The Oprah Winfrey Show" debuted. "The Phantom of Opera" premiered. "Out of Africa" won seven Oscars. And Bryant & Cooper steaked its claim in Roslyn.
Gillis and George Poll's bastion of beef has barely changed, either on table or in reputation, since 1986. You can be sure that none of the regulars would mind, whether they're present tonight or immortalized on the small brass plaques in the dining area.
Yes, the cornerstone of the Poll restaurant group has been refreshed during a brief closure earlier this year. Most of the work pertained to the building's exterior, but the dark wood is freshly polished; and the inlaid marble accenting it is rivaled by the streaks threading the house's prime meat.
Of course, the restaurant is jammed with customers celebrating birthdays, good fortune, or just Monday night, when the place is packed tighter than most spots on Saturday. The credit card limits around here must have more digits than local ZIP codes.
The Poll brothers' establishments are dependably very good, often excellent: Toku Modern Asian and Cipollini Trattoria + Bar in Manhasset, Hendrick's Tavern in Roslyn, Bar Frites in Greenvale, Majors in East Meadow, The Bryant in Huntington Station.
Here, at the oldest among them, diners spend and get a stellar meal at one of Long Island's best, traditional steakhouses, a clubby one that's welcoming and warm.
Go elsewhere for sushi — maybe Toku. At Bryant & Cooper, what matters is clear, starting with first-class shellfish cocktails, shrimp, crab, or lobster; tasty clams casino or oreganata; a terrific Maryland crabcake; and, in season, those great stone crab claws.
Lesser choices take in a pretty routine tuna tartare and the house's weary chopped salad of shrimp, bacon, green beans, onion, and pale tomatoes.
Instead, share a main dish of the savory, flavor-packed linguine with white clam sauce, which improves on the versions at scores of Italian restaurants in Nassau and Suffolk. Bryant & Cooper's chicken Parmigiana does, too.
Seafood is a major catch, from sesame-crusted tuna to baked Dover sole, served with "meunière sauce" on the side. Four-pound lobsters weigh in at market price, recently $95, and are expertly steamed or broiled.
All this leads to red meat. There's a special of filet mignon capped with Gorgonzola cheese that is as lean and tangy as an Elmore Leonard sentence. The juicy, blackened Colorado rib steak with Cajun spices misses carbonization in the time it takes Emeril Lagasse to "Bam!" The risk-averse can enjoy the rib steak unadorned,
A generously cut sirloin steak stands out for all the right reasons. But the big cut and the best choice is the porterhouse, for two, three, or four. Once you hit New York Lotto, come with a large group of your favorite people. Solo, slice into the full-cut prime rib or the boneless prime rib, with horseradish for a pleasing jolt. But ask about the temperature so your desired medium-rare doesn't heat up to medium and more.
Vegetables are a la carte, as they are at too many steakhouses. The baked potato is ample, and, at $8.50, it should be. The mashed potatoes will make you reach for the block of butter that accompanied the break basket. Hash browns and cottage fries vie with Lyonnaise potatoes for spud honors. The mandatory side, however, is luxurious creamed spinach. Skip the hard Brussels sprouts in favor of crisp fried zucchini.
If you're ready for dessert, the creamy cheesecake suits Bryant & Cooper, as do the homey banana cream pie and crackling creme brulee. Apple strudel is limp; Key lime pie, routine.
Long Island hosts plenty of steakhouses. It's one of the favored restaurant styles, one where many diners will stretch their budgets. And Northern Boulevard is the main artery with a highest LDL level. Its stars extend from Great Neck to East Norwich, or, precisely, Peter Luger to Rothmann's.
In between, steak row belongs to Bryant & Cooper.
It has since opening day.