George Martin 1989
33 Berry Hill Rd., Syosset
SERVICE: Attentive, excellent
AMBIENCE: Relaxed and refined
ESSENTIALS: Lunch, Monday to Friday noon to 3 p.m.; dinner, Sunday to Thursday 5 to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday 5 to 11 p.m. . Weekend dinner reservations recommended; major credit cards accepted; wheelchair-accessible.
George Martin 1989 lights up 2017.
This is the new member of the George Martin Group, which at first starred with what’s now called George Martin “The Original” in Rockville Centre 28 years ago.
From that restaurant, a small empire grew, taking in styles as different from each other as the handsome, higher-end George Martin’s Strip Steak in Great River to the informal, very focused GM Burger Bar in Rockville Centre and Massapequa Park.
George Korten’s latest, on Berry Hill Road, is a steak-centric establishment defined by jazzy, inviting cooking and dependably first-rate service.
George Martin 1989 arrives at the address previously occupied by the neighborly George Martin’s Grillfire and, earlier, the more casual Mim’s.
The overhaul in design and approach makes the place seem a bit more spacious and a lot more ambitious. The upfront bar stays lively, with TVs tuned to sports, and good beer on tap. Images of exhibition horses and Black Dog advertisements abound. The soundtrack veers toward Alabama Shakes and John Legend, Ray LaMontagne’s “Let It Be Me” and Louis Armstrong’s version of “La Vie en Rose.” They all fit in, whether you’re here on a high-decibel Saturday night or a quieter weekday.
Chef Christopher Holt’s fare plays its own appealing theme.
Holt sends out a playful opener of scallops Rockefeller, richly flavored and finished in Pernod butter sauce. He moves east with diverting, Korean barbecue duck tacos, accented with kimchee slaw.
Dishes popular at The Original are imported, including the crunchy, sweet-spicy chili pop shrimp, colorful chopped salad and spirited Caesar. A hefty, caramelized-onion fondue, made with Gouda and Gruyère, will have you looking for extra toasts and a partner or two to share the affair. It will test your devotion to cheese.
On a lighter note, Holt prepares excellent pastas: lush cauliflower ravioli with a hint of Marsala; and strozzapreti Bolognese boosted by pulled short rib and burrata — each one better than what you’d get at many Italian mainstays in Nassau and Suffolk.
But it’s all not grand. The pork schnitzel arrives perilously thin, less than crisp, and tastes more of lemon-panko than the pork itself. Savory red cabbage and spaetzle try to rescue it. And the “trio” of seafood, with shrimp scampi-style, seared sea scallops, and a jumbo lump crabcake is on the very bland side. The whole, grilled branzino swims ahead, accented with capers, lemon and parsley.
Main courses that mean business are the steaks, plated on wood carving boards. Best are a 16-ounce, dry-aged, juicy, boneless rib eye; and the namesake club steak, a 20-ounce bone-in strip that’s also dry-aged 21 days. The sauces aren’t necessary, but if you’re inclined, peppercorn and horseradish cream are the top two. Best of the sides: creamed spinach and baked potato.
The house burger is a flavor-packed blend, on a brioche bun. Add the cheese for $2. And the organic chicken makes a successful, very appetizing one-way trip from Amish country to your table.
Wines by the glass include a tangy Protea Dry Rosé from South Africa and the uncomplicated Seven Daughters, seven-grape red blend from California. Greenport Tidal Lager and Radiant Pig IPA head the craft brews.
Allow for dessert, especially the pineapple upside-down cake with coconut sorbet; the brownie sundae, either in a shareable full cut or the petite one; and a warm, Belgian dark chocolate fondue that’s just excessive enough for 2017.