It’s been more than a month since chef Steven Del Lima left full-time duties in the kitchen of Chow Down Diner in Bethpage to concentrate on revising CoolFish in Syosset. While Del Lima does stop into the diner early in the day, he usually isn’t around during dinner.
The restaurant received a two-and-a-half-star rating when reviewed in April. So, how are things going without the constant supervision of a full-time chef? A recent visit told a story of inconsistency. The meal began on a high note with the restaurant’s terrific matzo ball soup: a large, airy-light sphere in a rich broth laced with fresh dill and chunks of carrot. But what had happened to the pan-fried Asian teriyaki dumplings? They took forever to come out of the kitchen, and when they did, they were burned and greasy (see above photo; for a photo of the way they looked in April of this year, click here). Flounder meunière, which previously had been decoratively plated with a lovely lemon beurre blanc, now looked — and tasted — like typical diner fish, afloat in melted butter and dusted in what looked like paprika. Meat loaf and mashed potatoes were delicious, although slopped onto the plate.
Reached by phone, Del Lima said that the previous kitchen manager had been let go and that a new hire, who is working part time for now, will be there full time next week. Whether that means the place will get back on track remains to be seen.
Chow Down Diner is at 4011 Hempstead Tpke., Bethpage, 516-597-5310.