It’s becoming increasingly difficult to get a clear fix on Snaps American Bistro in Wantagh. When the place opened, back in 2004, it was in a price range that straddled the line between moderate and expensive. Newsday's Peter Gianotti gave it two stars, calling Scott Bradley's repertoire "food with flair, without pretense."
After a makeover designed to reposition Snaps as even more casual and less costly, Bradley continued to change things. Just two weeks ago, he was offering a two- course prix-fixe for $25.95. Then, in a move that looked like a godsend for thrifty diners, he added a dessert course to the mix.
But the new deal wasn't quite the bonanza it appeared to be. It offered a much more limited selection of starters (soup or salad instead of something like a lobster BLT) and only three possible entrees. Dessert? A take-it-or-leave-it chef's choice. Order that meal and you can end up feeling like a second-class diner in comparison to tables getting one of Bradley's tasting menus, priced $35 to $80 a person.
A recent $25.95 prix-fixe dinner began with Caesar salad — not bad, but hardly a showcase for this chef's skills. An entree of Southern fried chicken amounted to about a quarter of a small bird. Dessert was a chocolate ice cream cone — half a scoop, at that.
From the a la carte roster, a short rib and blue cheese quesadilla was big on flavor but served lukewarm. Grilled salmon (requested rare) over coconut-curry-pineapple broth with soba noodles sounded great, but the fish that came had been cut through the middle and was seriously overcooked. Still, the Thai broth was uber-aromatic. And Bradley's dulce de leche sundae was nothing short of splendid.
Here's a news flash: if you check out the Snaps Web site (at least within the next few hours), it reads: “Prix fixe menu will usually be between $23.95-$28.95 for three courses depending on choices.” Bottom line: you won't know what your menu (or tab) will be until you show up.
I have a strong suspicion that Bradley will soon return to a wider range of prix-fixe options in a somewhat higher price range. That’s the arena this chef is comfortable in and, really, where he belongs.
Snaps is at 2010 Wantagh Ave., Wantagh, 516-221-0029, snapsrestaurant.com
Scott Bradley at Snaps, pre-makeover/Howard Schnapp