Had it really been over a decade since I'd last eaten at a Houlihan's restaurant? I ended up there for lunch today, when all my preconceptions were sent packing.
Now defining itself as a “from scratch” restaurant, the handsomely appointed place surprised me with a commendable vegetarian burger made from lots of bright vegetables. It was served on a thin brioche roll and topped with a harmonious meld of caramelized onions, barbecue sauce, Cheddar and provolone. Appealing, as well, was a side casserole of rice and beans crowned with pico de gallo and grated cheese.
A friend’s chicken Asian “chop chop” salad featured warm sauteed poultry in a sesame sauce alongside a cool mélange of crisp Napa cabbage, shredded jicama, snow peas and peppers, a bit of crunch provided by peanuts. The Chinese noodles on the plate (thankfully, in a separate pile) were entirely beside the point.
I visited the Houlihan’s in Farmingdale, 923 Broadhollow Rd., 631-249-4828, but there are also branches in Westbury (725 Merrick Ave., 516-222-8010) and Lake Grove (4000 Middle Country Rd., 631-588-0500), houlihans.com